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The restitution of properties in Romania

What is the Romanian law governing the restitution of properties and what does this procedure imply?

The law on this matter is the Law No. 165/2013 regarding the measures to complete the process of restitution, in kind or through compensation, of properties abusively taken during the communist regime in Romania.

Law no. 165/2015 is based on four important principles, namely:

▪ principle of predominance of restitution in kind;

▪ principle of equity;

▪ principle of transparency in determining the remedies;

▪ principle of maintaining the right balance between the private interest of former owners and the general interest of society.

Under this law, the properties abusively taken during the communist regime are returned in kind. In terms of land restitution, the restitution in kind refers to restoration of property rights on the old site or another one.

What is the restitution of properties and how does this process unfold under the Romanian law?

The Local Commission for the Assessment of lands draws up the situation of the agricultural lands, with or without investment, as well as forestry, found in the public domain or in the private state or, where appropriate, the administrative-territorial unit, which may be subject to reconstitution of ownership, on each administrative unit.

The County Commission of land or, where appropriate, the Commission of Land for Bucharest, centralizes the situations consolidated at the administrative-territorial units level. The result is sent to the State Domains Agency and the National Authority for Property Restitution. State Domains Agency and the National Authority for Property Restitution initiate the legal proceedings in order to change the legal status of lands owned by the state, and their transfer to private property of the state in order to be affected to the restitution or, where appropriate, the recovery points.

Is there a time limit in which the obligation of restituion of properties must be accomplished?

Yes. Local and county land commissions or, where appropriate, the Commission of Land for Bucharest are obliged to settle all claims for restitution and to issue the ownership titles until January 1st, 2016.

In the event that these obligations are not respected in the deadline set by law, the person who is deemed entitled may submit a complaint to the court within whose jurisdiction the land is situated, within 30 days. The judgment of the court is subject only to appeal. The complaint is exempt from judicial stamp fee.

What happens if the restitution is not possible?

If the restitution in kind of properties abusively taken during the communist regime is no longer possible, the equivalent remedies to be granted are offset with equivalent goods provided.

Specifically, the law provides that in case the restitution of agricultural land in the old locations is not possible after validating the extent of ownership, the former owner or his heirs are assigned land on another site in the following order:

▪ lands of the reserve of fund of the local land commission;

▪ publicly owned land, transfered, under the law, in the private property of the state or on lands which are private property of the state, which were administered across administrative-territorial units by research institutes, resorts or other public institutions;

▪ public property land transfered to private property of the state or on lands which are private property of the state that were managed on administrative-territorial units by research institutes or resorts or public institutions across neighboring municipalities, located in the same county;

▪ lands occupied by pastures.

In terms of forest land, in a situation where their restitutuion is not possible in their old locations, the restitution of property rights is accomplished at other locations across the administrative-territorial unit.

In which situations do the compensatory measures occur and what may these be under the Romanian law?

Restitution applications which can not be resolved through restitution in kind to the entities entrusted by law shall be resolved by granting compensatory measures in the form of points.

In order to exploit the points awarded, the National Fund of agricultural land and other property is formed, also known as the National Fund, which is originally composed of agricultural lands not subject to restitution, under the private ownership of state in the administration of the State Domains Agency, affected for the granting of compensatory measures.

Land allotted to local committees in order to complete the restitution process that are not returned to the former owners until January 1st, 2016 become a part of the National Fund and are affected to the capitalization of the awarded recovery points.

In order to grant compensation for properties that can not be returned in kind, entities entrusted by law send the decisions containing the proposal to grant compensatory measures to the secretariat of the National Commission.

The evaluation of property that is subject of the decision is made through the application of the notary scale by the Secretariat of the National Commission and expressed in points. A point has a value of one Romanian LEU and the number of points is determined after deducting the updated value of compensation received for the assessed property.

The points awarded by the decision of compensation can be used to purchase properties from the National Fund at the national public auction, starting from January 1st, 2016. Weekly estate auctions are also organized at the headquarters of the National Agency for Cadastre and Land and participation in the auction is free for the owners of the points.

Within three years after the decision of compensation through points, but no earlier than January 1st 2017, the holder can opt for capitalization of the points in cash.

For more information regarding the restitution of properties and the means through which you can obtain property which was abusively taken during the comunist regime, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers within the Darie, Manea & associates law firm!

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