May 28 , 2022

Proprietors in Addis Abeba are no longer required to hold occupancy permits to rent out part of their buildings to daycare centres, medical clinics, pharmacies, or schools. Officials at the city's Construction Permit & Control Authority instructed all district and wereda offices last week to forego the rules enforced on four-storey buildings constructed with residential building permits.

The Authority issues and renews occupancy permits. It delegated wereda offices to grant construction permits for smaller buildings, while districts are responsible for properties up to seven storeys. Developers erecting more than 10 floors need to deal with the Authority under Setotaw Akale.

A civil engineer by training, Setotaw headed the Addis Abeba Transport Bureau before taking the helm at the Authority in October 2021. He had also served as a deputy manager of the administration of Dessie town, 400Km north of Addis Abeba in the Amhara Regional State.

His officials say they responded to growing complaints from proprietors over occupancy permit procedures.

“We identified loopholes that lead to corruption and inefficiency,” said Henok Regassa, director of occupancy permits at the Authority.

It takes three days on average to acquire an occupancy permit, renewable annually. It could take longer if officials deem the construction design to have defects. Applicants are required to present deeds, building designs, and construction permits. The working procedure compelled proprietors to alter their construction permits before applying for a commercial occupancy permit.

The new rules reduce the hustle applicants had to go through, according to Addis Aregawi, team leader of occupancy permits at Bole District.

His office issued eight occupancy permits over the last two months. Before authorities suspended land related services for eight months in mid-2021, alleging widespread illicit activities in the construction industry, the District would have hundreds of permits over a similar period. The services were resumed last February. Close to 5,100 permits were issued in the capital over 11 months in the year before the proscription, averaging over a dozen a day.

The latest rules circumvent the need to revise building designs to secure occupancy permits after the transfer or sale of properties.

Building designs are approved by specialists who ensure the drawing fulfils all criteria set by the Authority. A building design depicts the purpose and size of a building and the materials and method of construction used. It also includes architectural, structural, sanitary and electrical drawings of the building. Securing permits could take anywhere between a week to three weeks, depending on whether officials deem it necessary to ask developers to make design changes. It was also expensive, costing as much as 10,000 Br a square metre.

“The requirement was unnecessary and time-consuming,” said Henok.

However, people close to the matter say the new rules could expose the system to fraudulent practices.

Kifle Yohannes is a real estate broker with 20 years of experience. He observed that the building design revision process was necessary to identify whether the property had been constructed in compliance with standards set by the city administration.

Arba Beyene, a legal expert who worked at the Yeka District Land Management Bureau, concurred.

"The requirements were vital to ensure constructions meet the city's plan," he said.

PUBLISHED ON May 28,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1152]

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