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PROPERTY INVESTOR

Beginning construction

Foreign investment in Slovakia is increasing, and recently there has been significant activity related to the construction of business complexes and supermarkets. Thus, the issue of how to commence the construction process has moved to the forefront.
Under current laws, two permits are required for a construction project: a zoning permit (which must be obtained first) and a building permit. Applications for both permits are made to the relevant district office of state administration, part of the Ministry of Environment. A regional office and a central ministerial office, respectively, will serve as appellate bodies in the case of application denials.
A zoning permit application may be submitted by the landowner or by a person acting with the landowner's written consent. Certain required documentation, such as zoning plans and descriptions, must accompany the application.


Julian Juhasz

Foreign investment in Slovakia is increasing, and recently there has been significant activity related to the construction of business complexes and supermarkets. Thus, the issue of how to commence the construction process has moved to the forefront.

Under current laws, two permits are required for a construction project: a zoning permit (which must be obtained first) and a building permit. Applications for both permits are made to the relevant district office of state administration, part of the Ministry of Environment. A regional office and a central ministerial office, respectively, will serve as appellate bodies in the case of application denials.

A zoning permit application may be submitted by the landowner or by a person acting with the landowner's written consent. Certain required documentation, such as zoning plans and descriptions, must accompany the application.

The district office will then conduct formal investigation proceedings or oral hearings to obtain objections or comments from state authorities or others whose rights may be affected by the requested zoning permit.

Objections may be made only within the time period established by the district office, which may not be less than seven days. Zoning permits are usually issued for a two-year period, unless a longer period is requested and approved. Extensions may be granted upon submission of a written request.

A building permit application must include evidence of the applicant's title to or other right to use the land. A district office may issue a building permit only after considering all reasonable objections, and potentially affected parties must be given at least seven days (if personally informed) or fifteen days (if a public announcement is made) to submit their objections. Building permits are normally issued for a two-year term, unless a longer period is requested and approved, and they may be extended. Upon an applicant's specific written request, a district office has discretion to permit certain small construction to proceed without a building permit.


Kevin Connor

In general, Slovak construction law often lacks clarity and grants the administrative authorities broad discretion to reject applications for zoning and building permits. For example, the district office may refuse to issue a building permit due to a "reasonable objection" from a potentially affected party or due to a "threat to public interests," but the law does not define "reasonable objection" or a "threat to public interests." In addition, the law does not establish the minimum duration of the land-use right (such as the minimum lease term) that is necessary to obtain a building permit. As a practical matter, it appears, however, that the term may not be less than the requested construction period. Of course, the lease itself must permit construction on the property.

As a general rule, the process of securing zoning and building permits can be time consuming as well as frustrating.

Julian Juhasz and Kevin Connor are attorneys with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Their column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to propertyinvestor@ssd.com.

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