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13/06/2019   Why, even with a permit, construction can be declared illegal?

The procedures for issuing construction permits and approving its completion as well as the state supervision of construction do not always ensure that the construction is lawful and supervision of the use of structures does not ensure that structures will be used for the purpose specified in the construction permit. This is showed in the audit “Granting Construction Permits and Compliance of Construction Process with the Set Requirements” carried out by the supreme audit institution.

Between 2015 and 2018, approximately 17 thousand permits were issued each year, part of which were assessed by the State Territorial Planning and Construction Inspectorate. Some 7 % of the inspected construction permits issued by municipalities were found to be illegal. The results of the audit carried out by the National Audit office show that this is due to several reasons.

The legislation sets out the requirements to be fulfilled, the documents to be provided in order to obtain a construction permit, as well as which authorities should be involved in issuing construction permit, however, municipalities do not always ensure this when granting construction permits.

According to the auditors, for more than a third of illegally issued permits, builders provided incomplete documentation, and the municipalities did not request it, in 16 % of the cases the municipalities did not designate all entities involved in the authorisation process, and in 6 % of the cases permits were granted to builders without having the right to build.

The auditors also note that one third of builders met the set requirements, provided all the necessary documents, the municipalities designated all the entities involved in the authorisation process and they presented inspection conclusions, nevertheless the Inspectorate acknowledged that the permit was illegal, as the design solutions of the construction project did not comply with the set requirements, such as compliance with territorial planning documents.

The audit detected the cases when the construction permit has been issued illegally in breach of the requirements of legal acts, however administrative proceedings were not applied with regard to the expiry of limitation period set in the legislation. In order to enhance the prevention of illegal construction and to ensure that there were no possibilities created to avoid responsibility for violations in the field of construction under the statute of limitations, it is necessary to organise the state supervision checks on construction in such a way that they are carried out before the expiry of the limitation period.

“If we want to avoid such situations where, after the issuing of construction permit, it is subsequently recognised as unlawful, it is necessary to ensure the efficient functioning of the construction permit granting system. This could be achieved through the joint and effective functioning of the following elements: construction permit granting system, competence and responsibility. If at least one of the elements is faltering, there is a growing likelihood of obtaining a permit, which will later be acknowledged to be illegal”, said Julius Lukošius, Director of Economy Audit Department.

The audit reveals also other problems: the authorities involved in the construction completion procedure are not involved in the granting of construction permits and the issuing authority is not involved in the completion of the construction process. For these reasons, situations might arise where important technical solutions necessary for the operation of the structure, such as a compliant fire alarm, will not be designed and implemented in construction.

Following the implementation of the recommendations of this audit, the expected impact is the effective functioning of the construction permit granting system which will prevent situations in which the builder has the permission to build, but it is deemed to have been issued in an illegal manner.

This audit is the first in a series of audits carried out by the National Audit Office in the area of construction and infrastructure. The results of the audit “Territorial Planning” are planned to be presented in the near future.


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Last updated on 10 October 2019

National Audit Office of Lithuania

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