Romania: A new construction law on the horizon?

Romania: A new construction law on the horizon?

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After the regulation on the commissioning of construction works received a (to a certain extent welcome) facelift in 2017, the Romanian legislator has turned its attention once again to the fundamental regulations regarding the authorization and execution of construction works.

January 2018 (ten years after the Romanian State Supervisory Body for Constructions initiated for the first time a „Constructions Code“ project, a draft which was supposed to unitary regulate i.a. the town planning/urbanism field, the permitting procedure and the execution of construction works, the quality of constructions and construction materials, the post-utilization of constructions etc. and was never adopted) saw the publication of a draft legislation prepared by the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Administration intended to completely replace the current Law no. 50/1991 on the permitting procedure of construction works (the Construction Law).

The new draft law provides for the following advantageous amendments, to name just a few: (i) the option (for the time being) of the local authorities responsible for issuing building permits to establish a unitary desk/committee to take over the administrative burden of gathering all required preliminary endorsements and approvals for issuing the building permit (which is currently the task of the applicant for the building permit); (ii) the validity term of approvals and endorsements is clarified as being until construction works are complete; (iii) a general revision of all applicable technical standards is to take place so as to cleanse the legislation of outdated standards; (iv) the possibility to obtain the building permit for interior partitioning works based on a simplified technical documentation and (v) the establishment of a consolidated database of all utility networks is envisaged, together with the establishment of a central registry to record all authorized construction works (i.e. the National Registry of Constructions).

However, the draft law also has multiple downsides, such as: (i) the proposed extension of issuing terms for city planning certificates and building permits (turning the initial term of 30 calendar days into 30 working days); (ii) no mention regarding the concession of real estate included in the private domain of the state and of local administrative units (thus leaving a legislative void in this area and adding to the debate whether the concession of such real estate is still possible); (iii) the option to issue building permits in an emergency procedure is to be eliminated and (iv) the content of the documentation based on which building permits are issued is to become inaccessible to the public, to name just a few.

Although it is a revival of past talks and initiatives concerning reforming the Construction Law, the current form of the draft law fails to address significant shortcomings in construction legislation in general, which – in its current state – fails to harmonise construction provisions with those in the areas of town planning/urbanism and the cadastre/land register system.

Nonetheless, the draft law may be considered a step in the right direction of updating Romanian construction legislation to current realities, whereas the draft law is likely to be further amended before the vote in Parliament. Our local office in Romania is actively involved in proposing enhancements to the draft law by supporting the German-Romanian and American-Romanian Chambers of Commerce in stating their position on the draft law.

By Roxana Duda, Associate Partner, and Alexandru Dan, Associate, Noerr Poland