Legislation of Unpermitted Buildings Successfully Overcomes Challenges

Friday, June 19, 2020
Legalization Coordination Group online discussion
Kreshnik Kurtishi, Chemonics International Inc. for USAIDKosovo

The public sector in Kosovo continues to show its commitment to serving citizens by continuing their operations during the global pandemic.  Since the introduction of measures in mid-March to contain the spread of COVID-19, central and municipal governments have been rotating between working in the office and working remotely.  Despite these challenges in operations, two USAID partner municipalities, Pristina and Gračanica/Graçanicë, began the first legalizations for unpermitted constructions during this period.  To date, they have completed the legalization of 108 buildings, 95 in Pristina and 13 in Gračanica/Graçanicë, laying the groundwork for a rapid expansion of the process after the resumption of citizen movements and lifting of government operational restrictions.

The legalization of unpermitted construction benefits Kosovo citizens, as it ensures full access to benefits and protection of property rights.  Its implementation allows citizens and businesses to use the legalized buildings as collateral for accessing much needed finance to fuel economic growth. 

Zijadin Ibrahimi from Pristina explains the importance of legalizing his house, “For me, legalization is quite important because it means me and my spouse, as joint owners, now have the documents to prove our ownership.  Since we are both in our later years, we want to make sure that our children do not have problems in the future with inheritance.”

To ensure that the legalization program is managed efficiently even during the pandemic, USAID helped the Ministry of Environment and Infrastructure (MEI) finalize a national electronic tracking tool that allows municipalities to track implementation of the legalization process.  They also developed joint action plans for implementation in Pristina and Gračanica/Graçanicë and finalized the plans for a campaign in the two partner municipalities once the public health emergency is resolved.  Additionally, despite limited operations, Kosovo municipalities are continuing to submit questions on the legalization process.  The support from USAID helps MEI coordinate with municipalities to define answers consistent with the legal framework and legalization guidelines.

While processing of previously received applications continues during the pandemic, it is encouraging that both Pristina and Gračanica/Graçanicë, both partners in USAID’s Economic Governance activity, continue to receive new applications from citizens, albeit at a reduced rate.  The legalization of buildings without a permit is just one example of the resilience and continued success of Kosovo institutions despite the challenging health and political environment.

Last updated: July 07, 2020

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