Ombudsman says 20,000 defrauded in real estate deals

NEWS 21.07.2022 16:26

Serbian Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic told N1 on Thursday that some 20,000 people have been defrauded in real estate deals since 2016.

He said that the only guarantee of ownership of real estate is an entry in the real estate registry, adding that most of people who were defrauded were tricked while their apartments were still being built.

The real estate registry is managed by the Serbian Republic Geodetic Authority which had serious problems with its servers recently due to hacker attacks. The Ombudsman’s comments came after two cases of housing sold twice appeared in the media recently, one involving a Belgrade artist and the other involving several families who are being forced out of the apartments. In both cases, the housing was sold twice.

Pasalic said that the only way for both sets of buyers to seek protection is in court. According to him, the office of the Ombudsman can help but only if the courts haven’t ruled yet.

He recalled that a central court registry was introduced in 2010 allowing buyers to check who the owner of the real estate is or if there was a mortgage. He said the courts only verified the signatures on the contracts. He added that notaries public started checking the status of real estate in 2014.