Last year, Dmitry Medvedev, being the President of Russia, came up with an initiative to provide free land plots to families raising three or more children in order to try to solve the “housing problem” so acute in our country and, at the same time, improve the demographic situation in the country. They say – here’s the land for you, build, live, everything for the population, and completely free of charge.
Corresponding changes were made to the Land Code of the Russian Federation and the law “On Assistance to the Development of Housing Construction” on July 17, 2011, and large families were invited to contact local authorities to sign up for a queue for receiving land plots.
Almost a year after the start of the program, its first results can be summed up – so far very dubious and disappointing.
Even after the signing of the amendments to the legislation, many experts predicted that the new law had many gaps and would cause violations and abuses, giving a lot of room for the arbitrariness of officials. The biggest criticism was caused by the following point: “the land plot is provided without bidding and preliminary approval of the location of objects that are in state or municipal ownership”.
That is, the prior consent of the family to receive a specific plot is not required by law. In fact, this means that a large family has no choice – take what they give and be glad that you got it at all.
In addition, the law did not spell out the basic requirements for the sites, such as proximity to utilities, urban infrastructure, soil conditions, and so on. The size of the land plot was not indicated either – all these “minor details” were left to the conscience of the regional authorities, which were ordered to independently resolve issues with large families that stood in line.
Martin Shakkum, Chairman of the Committee for Construction and Land Relations
Martin Shakkum, who is the first deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Construction and Land Relations, explains: “The federal law sets only general rules of the game for the regions. And already directly and specifically provision, that is, order, all the rules, queuing, size of sites and other issues – are decided by the laws of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation themselves “.
It is not surprising that in light of such a number of gaps and inaccuracies, many large families are afraid of fraud with their intended land, realizing that local authorities will try to solve the problem at minimal cost..
Today in Russia there are more than 1 million families who are raising three or more babies. So far, only about 100 thousand families have entered the queue to receive land plots – people are in no hurry, preferring to wait and figure out how the law will actually work, and if there is a catch. In fact, regional amendments are able to change the law adopted at the federal level beyond recognition, what large families who have come to register in the list of applicants for a land allotment could see for themselves personally.
To begin with, federal law does not imply any restrictions for families who come to enroll in the queue – having three children is already enough to receive free land. However, in many regions such restrictions still appeared. For example, large families may require a certificate of income, and if they exceed a certain amount, refuse – they say, you yourself are able to buy land and build a house. Also, in some regions, a certificate is also required stating that the parents do not yet own other land plots – the presence of a summer cottage or a garden plot, albeit only one hundred square meters in size, can also become a reason for refusal. An age qualification is also introduced – all three children must be minors, if the eldest has managed to grow up – that’s it, the family has no longer been large.
In addition, the so-called residency requirement has been introduced, says lawyer Dmitry Zelensky, that is, a family must live in one region for at least 5, 7, and for the Moscow region and the capital – at least 10 years. Such a restriction, in principle, is understandable: families from poor regions will “come in large numbers” in the Moscow region and become contenders for expensive suburban hundred square meters, but in some regions such a qualification is inappropriate, and it is worth considering individually what exactly caused the move.
Another interesting feature – in some regions, for example, in the Samara region, the list of large families on the waiting list has become a big secret..
Newly registered people are only informed of their number in the queue, however, it is impossible to find out who exactly registered in front of them. The waiting list is afraid that in such a situation it is easy to manipulate the lists, adding “their own people” to the usual waiting lists – no one will know anyway. Lists of free land plots, as well as their purpose, for example, for home farming or construction, are also classified in some places, and families with many children cannot choose.
However, in Kostroma, for example, such lists – waiting lists and available land plots – hang on the stand in the local administration and are updated monthly, which allows you to control the process of allocating plots.
So, the registration procedure for a large family has been completed and after a while it receives a land plot. It would seem an excellent reason for joy. However, it turned out that not all regions are so smooth.
The loudest scandal to date has thundered in the Tver region, where, according to unofficial data, large families were supposed to allocate plots where in the 50s and 60s wastes were buried from chemical giant plants located on the outskirts of Tver. In Soviet times, they did not build here, rightly believing that nothing good will come of it, but now these wastelands are just useful.
Information about the intentions of the authorities, voiced by one of the architects and picked up by bloggers, caused a public outcry and outrage among the population. The authorities quickly disowned such plans, saying that these land plots were rejected after deliberation, and not at all because of the presence of chemical waste, but due to the unfortunate location and poor quality of the soil itself. Tver officials promised to strictly control the process of allocating land plots and monitor their quality. And the architect, who announced the plans of the local authorities, quietly resigned.
No less “successful” it was decided to allocate plots to large families in the Kazan region – next to the Radon plant, which is engaged in the disposal of radioactive waste. The authorities claim that the radiation background at the site is normal, but such a neighborhood of optimism does not add to the waiting list, and many, including the Russian branch of Greenpeace, strongly doubt the reliability of the examination..
Another high-profile case involving land plots for large families happened in the Saratov region. Not so long ago, families who received allotments in the region turned directly to Moscow with complaints that they were provided with swamps, dense forest, landfills and deep ravines as a land plot for construction or farming..
Since the case received widespread publicity and was repeatedly covered in the press, the Saratov authorities had to urgently take action and come to an agreement with large families, promising to provide them with more attractive land plots.
Moreover, the governor of the Saratov region, Oleg Grishchenko, said that not only officials are guilty in this situation, but also the people on the waiting list, who agreed to the land plots offered to them without looking, without preliminary inspection. But it was not specified whether anyone offered such an inspection to large families, or guided by the letter of the law – “without preliminary agreement on the location of objects” – he simply said – sign, here is your land, congratulations. In addition, as the governor noted, all sites have a sanitary and epidemiological conclusion about their suitability for construction. It is not clear how such conclusions could have been obtained on plots that are almost entirely a swamp with rare bushes..
Many Saratov families note that they could not see the plots allocated to them in advance – the documents were signed in March, when there was still snow in the region, so large families had to wait for warmth to travel to their new allotment. Only then were they able to reach the areas marked with pegs and in reality see a forest with windbreaks and a swamp. According to them, the only thing that came to mind at the sight of such a picture was that “the authorities are simply mocking us.”!
Large families in Saratov are now encouraged to abandon the wetlands they have already received and wait until the local authorities have more acceptable options at their disposal. How long will have to wait is unknown, because Aleksey Prokopenko, the head of the Saratov administration, once again stressed that the city has no free land.
Saratov families – only about 700 registered in the queue for land – are asking for plots nearby so that in the future a whole village with many children could appear on this place. So communication problems are easier to solve, and life is more fun. However, so far no specific proposals have been received from the authorities..
And in Vladivostok, a large family, which received a plot, after each rain is completely flooded by a local river, was told by the local administration that they had no right to refuse – by law it is not allowed. Allocated to you – now do what you want, build a water outlet yourself, put the site in order. The family has already calculated that preparing such a site for construction will cost them much more than the future construction of a house..
By the way, Kazan families who received land plots near the Radon combine were also told that they can refuse land plots no more than three times – then the fastidious waiting lists will simply be removed from the list of applicants for allotments.
The scandal ended with the provision of land plots to large families in the Krasnoyarsk region. Allocated, according to those on the waiting list, 58 hectares of land “for a fight”, began to distribute not at all in turn, but according to the principle “for their own.” Moreover, they demanded entrance fees and rent from some large families, for fair remarks – the land is free – they said, “but you will get it faster.” In addition, the land located in horticultural associations will still cost the applicants a certain amount – until they are transferred to private ownership.
The solution to the issue is in your own hands
In Saratov, as a result of discussing the current situation, it was decided to create a working group, which, in addition to local officials, will also include representatives of large families who will be able to personally control the process of allocating plots and their quality.
Dmitry Medvedev: Families with many children should be provided with prepared land plots, and not some inconvenience
The initiative group intends to fight for its rights and, if necessary, apply directly to the federal level. In their defense, they cite the words of Dmitry Medvedev, which officials just ignored – “large families should be provided with prepared land plots, and not some inconvenience.”.
The same path was followed in the Tver region. For example, in the city of Likhoslavl, the initiative group itself studied the cadastral lists and chose the best option – attractive land plots not too far from the city. Large families are satisfied with the plots themselves and now they intend to achieve engineering communications – power supply, construction of a water supply system, and so on. Whether the local authorities will be able to allocate funds from the budget for this is still unknown, the authorities did not even promise to solve this problem this year, but the first step was successful and large families do not intend to retreat.
And in Tatarstan, large families have united with the Anti-Nuclear Society Society, seeking to close and eliminate nuclear waste burials.
Once again, I would like to emphasize that the land plot, even if a large family is lucky and is suitable for construction, is commercial and is located not far from the settlement – it is not a house, not a cottage or even a summer cottage. It still needs to build something, improve it, that is, it is still very far from housewarming. At the same time, according to statistics, 80% of Russian families with many children are below the poverty line, that is, they do not have free funds for construction..
How, in this case, the happy owners of land plots intend to use their free allotments? Many hope for maternity capital, which will be a good help at the initial stage of construction, intend to sell city apartments in order to receive funds for the construction of a spacious country house, plan to take out a mortgage.
Almost half of those who received the land intend to use it in the near future simply as a garden plot or vegetable garden – food will also not be superfluous. And the rest can simply sell this land – the law also allows this option. But whether someone will give the market price for a free plot of land or a dysfunctional family will sell it for a meager amount, or even for a box of vodka – a big question. Families with many children are certainly not immune from black realtors..
Experts, officials and large families themselves unanimously assert that a law on the allocation of free land plots is, of course, needed. However, today it needs numerous improvements, refinements and changes. It is necessary to control its implementation at the federal level, not trusting the local authorities, who, with their far from always rich budgets, follow the simplest path – they give away for free what they themselves do not need. In addition, there is a need for a program of further support for those families who decide to build a house on their own on the received plots – preferential mortgage loans, for example. Without all these improvements, the federal program for the allocation of free land plots to large families will remain another modern myth, sounding beautiful, but having nothing to do with reality..