Analysis & Features
Land in any area being zoned is usually redistributed to the rights holders in that area in accordance with the principle of compulsory land readjustment. Sometimes this redistribution is done by allocating the rights holders shares in the zoned area.
With Cabinet Resolution No. 1596 of 2021, the Higher Investment Council (HIC) approved the executive instructions for Investment Law No. 18, which was issued in May 2021. The most notable part of the law, with regards to housing, land and property rights, was a provision allowing the use of private investment to establish business projects in some areas of Syria that have been damaged by the war.
The Agrarian Reform Law No. 161 of 1958 allowed the Syrian state to expropriate more than the previously determined ceiling for agricultural land ownership and to redistribute the expropriated land to small farmers. On the other hand, the Agricultural Land Reclamation Law No. 29 of 2012 legalised state expropriation of agricultural land with the goal of increasing its productivity and then redistributing it to rights holders after deducting any land that is considered to be in excess of the ceiling for agricultural land ownership.
The Law on Building Occupants’ Organisations and Administrative Committees No. 55 of 2002 was aimed at regulating the administration, maintenance, and preservation of common areas in shared buildings and at enabling occupants to resolve any related disputes. The organisations mentioned in the law are not obligatory and many buildings do not have such bodies.
Recent years have seen the coercive expropriation of private real estate in areas under the control of the government through pressuring owners to either relinquish the properties or sell them at low prices. At the helm of these expropriations are usually influential figures supported by the security or military apparatuses.
During the period of Egyptian-Syrian unification in 1958-1961, the unity government issued Agrarian Reform Law No. 161 with the aim of setting a maximum limit on agricultural land ownership.
The Minister of Local Administration and Environment issued on February 3 the executive instructions for the Financial Law of Administrative Units No. 37 of 2021. The instructions include clarifications on some real estate-related fees and taxes.
Some women activists from Syria’s Alawite community who opposed the regime during the 2011 revolution have since been shunned by their families and social circles, at times even deprived of their housing, land, and property rights.
The forgery of real estate title deeds by specialised criminal networks is widespread in most areas under Syrian regime control.
Established in 1966 as a public institution, Syria’s Real Estate Bank finances various kinds of loans related to the purchase, renovation, or restoration of real estate.
Violations of housing, land, and property are rampant in northern Aleppo governorate, according to a wide-ranging report published in January 2022 by iMMAP, an international NGO that provides information management services to humanitarian organisations. The report focused on areas in Aleppo’s northern countryside alongside the Turkish border, which are under the control of Turkish-backed opposition forces and, thus, under de facto Turkish control.
The Agrarian Land Reclamation Law has not received sufficient attention, despite its potentially serious implications for housing, land, and property rights. The law issued in 2012, which is concerned with agricultural lands, can be considered equivalent in terms of risks to the urban planning laws issued during the same period as Decree 66 of 2012 or Law 10 of 2018.
A law on Amiri Properties issued in 1928 treats women and men on an equal footing if they are of the same degree of kinship with the deceased.
The Antiterrorism Court in Syria is an exceptional entity that contradicts the principles of fair trial, as reflected in the legality of its rulings, including confiscating the properties of those it convicts. Violations are also evident in how outside parties interact with the court’s rulings, for example: people purchasing the properties of convicted “terrorists” in public auctions.
Syria’s Real Estate and Building Plots Income Tax Law, issued as part of Decree No. 53 of 2006, imposed an annual tax on real estate and buildings of all kinds, whether partially or fully constructed, for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes.
The Real Estate Finance Oversight Commission (REFOC) held an exam in late 2021 to select real estate experts. Of the 155 trainees eligible for the exam, which was held at the Damascus University Faculty of Law, 127 actually took the test.
The Financial Law of Administrative Units No. 37 was issued on December 27, 2021, and is meant to regulate the fees and taxes collected by administrative units, as well as the methods for collection. The law also updated some real estate fees, basing them on the “current values” of real estate properties.
The Minister of Justice issued Circular No. 38 on December 13, 2021, to resolve disputes in the courts about how to calculate judicial fees for real estate cases. The circular affirmed that such fees are based on the appraised real estate value of a given property under the provisions of Judicial Fees Law No. 1 of 2012, rather than based on the “current value” as stipulated in Real Estate Sales Law No. 15 of 2021.
The Real Estate Judiciary in Syria dates back to Delimitation and Census Law No. 186 of 1926. Since the law was passed, there has been no clear definition of the Real Estate Judiciary or real estate judges. However, the body violates the principle of judicial independence by remaining subservient to the executive authority.
Personal Status Law No. 59 of 1953 and its amendments regulate inheritance based on Islamic law. The law includes the Alawites, though it excludes Druze and Christians.