RESTORATION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS IN RURAL AREAS IS ALMOST COMPLETE
One of the most important tasks of the National Land Service of the Republic of Lithuania defined in the program of the Government is to complete the restoration of property rights to land in rural and urban areas in 2019.
According to the data of January 1, the restoration of the ownership of the land, forest and water bodies in rural areas is essentially completed – the ownership rights were restored to 99.95 percent of citizens' requests (including passive applicants).
“The process of restoring citizens' property rights to land is fundamentally complete, except in isolated cases where property rights cannot be restored because of the inaction of citizens themselves. There were only 6 districts where ownership rights were restored to less than 99.95 percent of citizens' requests. In Šilalė district municipality 38 people retained their property rights, in Trakai district municipality – 53, Klaipeda district municipality – 54, Ignalina district municipality 65, Kaunas municipality – 117, Vilnius district municipality – 976”, – says Laimonas Čiakas, Director of the NLS.
According to the Director of the NLS, from the beginning of land reform (1991) until 2019 January 1 787.85 thousand citizens' requests were registered for the restoration of ownership in rural areas of the country to 4.024 million hectares of owned land. According to available data, until 2019 January 1 property rights in rural areas have not been restored to a total of 4,766 applicants to 6554 hectares of land, of which 3110 are not eligible for restoration of property rights due to the inaction of citizens themselves.
Currently, work is underway to finalize the restitution process for the remaining 1656 citizens by preparing land plots, designing already designed, land plot cadastral data files and deciding to restore property rights, totaling 1889 hectares of land.
The said citizens have been invited at least once to participate in the preparation of the land management plan for land reform, that is they were invited to attend the meetings of the contenders for the selection of plots of land from the existing land area ofthe free land fund. It should be mentioned, however, that these citizens are usually invited to attend meetings of designers, where land plots are designed, and if they arrive, they do not choose or avoid choosing the location of the land plot for no reason.
The design of plots in the free land areas chosen by citizens is the most significant stage in the whole process of restoration of property rights, as only then will the applicant find out the area, location and other details of the plot of land that will be transferred to him free of charge. Only technical works (land plot measurements) and legal documentation (decision making or other administrative acts) remain.
In order to restore property rights to the largest number of applicants possible, the NLS has assigned a considerable amount of time to clarify the addresses and heirs of the applicants, as well as to inform these applicants. All possible institutions (elderships, notaries) as well as the applicants' neighbors were approached for this purpose. Thanks to the efforts of the staff of the NLS, in 2018, 286 inactive (passive) citizens were involved in the process of restitution of property rights.
It is important to mention that, in order to solve the situation that prevents passive applicants from completing the process of returning property, the Lithuanian Seimas has adopted an amendment to Article 21 of the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to the Existing Real Property (came into force on 01-01-2019). The article stipulates that if a citizen who has the right to restore the ownership rights to land, forest or water body by returning in kind or transferring ownership of land, forest plot or water body in rural area or (and) urban area designated after June 1,1995 by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, does not specify (do not specify) the location where he would like to receive the land, forest plot or water body, is invited to arrive at the time specified in the invitation (except for non-attendance due to circumstances beyond his / her control) or to choose the planned land upon arrival, the location of a forest plot or water body, or the area chosen, no longer has free state land in which NLS could design a plot of land, property rights for this citizen are restored in cash.
Thus, from 1 January 2019 onwards, the National Land Service has been given the opportunity to take decisions to restore property rights in cash to the 3110 passive citizens (applicants), for which the restitution procedure for own property is currently not enforceable. Therefore, from this year the opportunity appeared for these citizens to be involved in the process of restoration of property rights.