Far East region brings down Russian free land handover rejection rate three-fold

The share of rejected applications for a free one-hectare land plot in the Far East region of Primorye has plummeted, the regional administration’s press service reported. The rejection rate fell from 10 percent in August to just 3 percent in October.

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In August this year the share of rejected applications was 10 percent from the total quantity; in September it fell to 5.7 percent and in October it was just 3 percent,” reads the press release, as quoted by TASS. The regional officials also reported that there were no overdue applications waiting to be processed – all of them were either satisfied or rejected for valid reasons.

The administration put the changes down to recently-passed amendments to the law on the free handover of land plots. The amendments in question provide for changes to applications and potential owners being offered alternative land plots in cases where those they apply for cannot be granted for private ownership.

The new amendments brought into the program some 250,000 hectares of land plots with natural mineral deposits, 200,000 hectares of hunting grounds and over 1 million hectares of forest. However, the head of property department of the Primorye administration, Aleksandr Podolsky, emphasized that the regional officials had fulfilled their task of limiting the part of hunting grounds. Such land included in the “free hectare” program was restricted by 5 percent.

The press service also added that the regional administration planned to refrain from granting single free land plots in the vicinity of already-developed settlements. The idea is to form larger clusters of free land plots complete with infrastructure in less populated areas of Primorye.

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An evening fog and fire smoke over Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky. ©  Alexandr Piragis

The Russian law allowing for the free handover of land in the Far East to those who want to build homes or start businesses came into force on June 1, 2016 with the program actually starting on February 1, 2017.

The law provides for the free handover of 1 hectare (about 2.5 acres) of land to anyone who applies for the program. This includes foreign citizens, although they will only be allowed to utilize the land without owning it outright. Registration of full property rights is only possible after the naturalization of potential owners. The land can be used for any lawful purpose, with the caveat that the new owners cannot rent, sell, or give it away for five years. Thereafter, they can obtain full property rights on the condition that they develop the land plot in some way.

About 28 percent of Russians interested in the program say they want to use the land to build a home. Some 17 percent want to use the land for agriculture or raising cattle, while another seven percent say they will use the land to build hotels and develop local tourism.

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