In December 2021, the Damascus governorate called on rights holders in the Basilia City area south of Damascus to submit applications for title deeds for their so-called “organisational shares” to the Directorate of Implementation of Decree No. 66. Basilia City is located south of the southern ring highway and covers 954 hectares of land, containing more than 100,000 title deeds according to official statements.
During the first and second meetings of the Damascus governorate council’s first session in January 2022, a dispute broke out shedding light on the duties of the previous Directorate for Implementation of Decree No. 66, particularly the issues regarding the distribution of organisational shares and residents’ lack of access to alternative housing in Marota City.
The pace of implementation of Decree No. 237, issued on September 14, 2021, to establish a zoning area at the northern entrance to Damascus has quickened in recent weeks. The Damascus governorate appears determined to adhere to the timetable set for establishing the development zone in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 10 of 2018. The 2018 law authorises the creation of one or more such zones within the general zoning plan of an administrative unit. The northern entrance project is the first instance of the controversial law going into effect in Damascus governorate.
In late 2021, the governor of Idlib announced that the administrations of the Idlib and Hama governorates were splitting, making Khan Sheikhoun the temporary administrative centre of the regime-held part of Idlib. Most of the Idlib governorate remains under the control of the hardline Islamist opposition group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham. The announcement came alongside an official media campaign encouraging displaced Khan Sheikhoun residents to return to the city, which has an official administrative headquarters but still lacks some basic public services.
Despite surviving various hardships over the decade-long war, Syrian Alawite women are still deprived of basic property and housing rights. Among these women are those who have borne a great deal of the war’s challenges, such as the widowed wives of regime soldiers.
Threats of use of force between militants in a village in the eastern part of the Suweida Governorate have shed light on the precariousness of housing, land, and property rights. The incident also demonstrated that the most vulnerable local social groups are at the highest risk of losing those rights.
The Hama City Council has decided to demolish around 400 properties built on expropriated land in order to construct a wall for Hama University. The council informed the homeowners in December 2021 that they must vacate their properties without providing any housing alternatives.
The Quneitra Governorate and notables from the city of Khan Arnabeh reached an agreement in late 2021 to address the lack of state property within real estate zone number 1/58, according to a quote attributed by the Al-Watan newspaper to the director of Cadastral Affairs in the Quneitra Governorate.
In late 2021, the local council in Azaz, a city under opposition control in the northern part of the Aleppo Governorate, carried out its first demolition of a “building violation” constructed without a licence. Despite the apparent symbolic nature of the demolition, the council attempted to demonstrate that it is serious about addressing so-called “building violations” and reining in the informal expansion of the city. The council also employed military force in the form of opposition National Army fighters to implement the demolition.
Syria’s Prime Minister laid the foundation stone in December 2021 for the Al-Amal residential suburb project in the city of Hama, located in Al-Naqarneh along the Hama-Aleppo highway.
The General Housing Establishment invited occupants of so-called “housing at risk of collapse” within Damascus’ Mazzeh 86 informal housing neighbourhood to choose alternative housing, which was considered to be preferential treatment and contradicted the laws in place that handle informal housing and urban planning.
The Rural Damascus Governorate agreed this past March to allow the return of displaced residents to various sites in Yalda, a town south of Damascus bordering the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. Though months have gone by, only a few families have returned.
The General Secretariat of the Hama Governorate announced a new decision to allow individuals to invest in farmlands belonging to their forcibly displaced relatives.
The Homs Governorate has finished amending zoning plans for four areas: Al-Qusayr, Al-Rastan, Al-Quryatayn, and Palmyra, and has sent the amended plans to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing for study and approval, according to official governorate statements.
After the settlement deals in southern Syria earlier this year, the regime launched a security campaign against displaced Bedouin tribes from the Suweida Governorate residing in the eastern part of the neighbouring Daraa Governorate. These displaced tribes have faced violations impacting their rights to housing and have few options for relocating, as many are unable to return to their hometowns.
The General Establishment of Housing has recently issued a series of statements stating that it would speed up the process of allocating homes to applicants for social housing projects; however, this move comes with amendments to the contract conditions without the prior consent of applicants.
Smuggling operations, which are causing security tensions in populated areas along the Syrian-Jordanian border, are directly impacting housing, land, and property rights.
For displaced residents, returning to the city of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad does not appear feasible in the foreseeable future despite repeated official announcements suggesting otherwise. Rubble still obstructs movement in main and subsidiary streets, while the rehabilitation of infrastructure is still in its initial stages.
The real estate market in the Daraa Governorate has witnessed increased supply and lower prices, coinciding with the conclusion of the recent security settlement deal. The likely reason for this increase in supply is due to people selling their properties in order to afford migration outside of Syria.
The Directorate of Cadastral Affairs in Rural Damascus is re-registering real estate records that were lost and damaged during the conflict and re-determining the delimitation and census of some properties, even while the Syrian opposition possesses a copy of the pre-2012 documents.