Change in law - Foreigners now allowed to own land?

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Change in law - Foreigners now allowed to own land?

Postby MGPA » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:04 pm

Hidden under the uninformative heading "Good News", in the "Media" forum, the following link has been posted by Vlado:

http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n98851

This leads to a news item announcing that Bulgarian law has been changed (or is to be changed WEF 1/1/07, the wording is ambiguous) to allow direct ownership of land by foreign individuals. If this is correct, it is important news for anyone who has already bought in BG using a limited company, and even more so for anyone contemplating a purchase. As I understand the law as it was, this will not affect purchase or ownership of apartments.

I have tried various other news sites for confirmation, so far without success. I am awaiting a reply from my project manager in BG, who is also an estate agent, and will email another contact in BG. Does anyone out there have any more information on this?

Colin.

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Postby margarita » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:39 pm

Hi Colin,

I also was looking for more information, because it is not very clear for me how the government can guarantee this when only the parlament can change the constitution. Anyway I probably miss something and there is explanation just I can not see it.

I hope this finaly happens.

Another publication on the topic I found in Standart. Here it is:

http://standartnews.com/en/article.php? ... ticle=1599

Margarita

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Postby leedarkwood » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:42 pm

As far as I can make out, and it is not very clear, this says that from Jan 1st there are changes in the law about buying agricultural land and forests. What these changes are is also not clear but they do talk about some kind of restoration of some forestry land to the original owners I think. Houses I think still fall into the area where they reserved the right to keep the current situation for the next 7 years. If I come across anything to suggest that the situation will change for house property I will post it.

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Postby oddball » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:51 pm

Hay Lee

I asked a question or two on the same posting form Vlado - 'good news' but I cannot find the posting now on the forum. Tried media but only brought this posting up.

Oddy :x


It's here:
http://www.mybulgaria.info/modules.php? ... ic&t=16755
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Postby MGPA » Fri Nov 03, 2006 6:46 pm

Thanks Margarita, I followed your link, and it is as ambiguous as the original one. The problem is the typical one of sloppy news reporting, which is always a problem in the UK.

What we need is an accurate and detailed report of the actual change in the law (if any). I may email my lawyer in Burgas to see if she knows anything more.

Colin.

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Postby leedarkwood » Fri Nov 03, 2006 7:06 pm

Here you are!

"Property Law to be brought in accordance with the amendments to the Constitution
02 November 2006

The government adopted proposals for changes to the Law on Property Ownership related to the amendments to Art. 22 of the Constitution of Bulgaria. The new amendments stipulate that foreigners and foreign legal entities can buy land if they satisfy the conditions arising from the country’s accession to the EU, or pursuant to an international treaty that has been ratified, promulgated and come into force, or through inheritance. This ordinance aligned the Constitution with the Community’s rules in the field of free movement of capital.

The right of citizens and legal entities of EU member states and the parties to the Agreement on European Economic Area to acquire land ownership springs from the conditions laid down in the Treaty of Accession where different transitional periods have been stipulated: 7 years for acquiring agricultural and forest land, and 5 years for acquiring land for a second dwelling for citizens who do not reside in Bulgaria. In line with the Treaty of Accession, self-employed farmers who are citizens of EU member states will be able to acquire agricultural and forest land for usage as of the accession date.

The amendments to the Constitution force amendments to another four laws related to forestry, protected areas, ownership and usage of agricultural land and the restitution of forest lands."

http://www.government.bg/cgi-bin/e-cms/ ... =000378&g=

This is from the Government website.

Still doesn't answer the question most of us will have. It is seven years to wait for land or forests bought as an investment, five years more for second homes, but and it is a BIG but, what about those of us moving there to live???

Edited to say, for us, as it will take five years for us to get permanant residency, I suspect that we will be buying via a company for some time to come.

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Postby easyezero » Fri Nov 03, 2006 7:48 pm

Hi Lee,
Nice bit of european blurb, don't take it the wrong way :?
All info is useful.

I thought that bg had ammended some of it's laws by way of the constitution.
I mean ownership of land by a foriegner allowed after 2011. and thereafter, inheritance rights.

Love the country, but there seems to be a lot of misinformation.

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Postby Cookoid_0 » Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:13 pm

Reading that posted by Lee seems to say this is implementation of a decision made some time ago.

I think it looks like we will be able to own holiday homes from 1st Jan 2012. Odd it singles out holiday homes and agri/forest land. What about owning land for ...non-agri business? ...Permanant homes?

Doesnt say. Flippin Eurowaffle. :roll: :lol:

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EU nationals buying land

Postby Adolf » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:46 am

Thank you for all your contributions. I was getting fed up with the vague press reports (many badly translated as well). So I ploughed through the protocols to the Act of Accession and the position seems remarkably clear.

Here is what I consider to be the relevant part as published by the Official Journal of the European Union:-

L 157/278 EN Official Journal of the European Union 21.6.2005
ANNEX VI
List referred to in Article 23 of the Act of Accession: Transitional measures, Bulgaria

[edited]

3. FREE MOVEMENT OF CAPITAL
Treaty on European Union,
Treaty establishing the European Community.

1. Notwithstanding the obligations under the Treaties on which the European Union is founded, Bulgaria may maintain in force for five years from the date of accession the restrictions laid down in its legislation, existing at the time of signature of the Treaty of Accession, on the acquisition of ownership over land for secondary residences by nationals of the Member States or the States which are a party to the European Economic Area Agreement (EEAA) non-resident in Bulgaria and by legal persons formed in accordance with the laws of another Member State or of an EEAA State.
Nationals of the Member States and nationals of the States which are a party to the European Economic Area Agreement who are legally resident in Bulgaria shall not be subject to the provisions of the preceding subparagraph or to any rules and procedures other than those to which nationals of Bulgaria are subject.

[edited]


So there you are. The restrictions continue for second homes being bought by non-residents BUT if there is an EU right involved the restrictions fall away at 1am BG local time on 1 January (I know there is debate about the precise time!). Non-Bulgarian EU nationals who are legally resident in BG can then buy land in exactly the same way as Bulgarians.

So what, I hear you ask, is the definition of legal residence? Well a holidaymaker or tourist is clearly not a resident. But anyone who decides to live in BG will be a resident from day 1 - any other approach would be a detraction from the right. Nor can the exercise of the right be delayed pending the issue of official approval, because that is to substitute the state of the official's in-tray and length of lunch break for the provisions of the Treaty.

This is all fairly basic EU legal stuff.

How can you lose the right of residence? Well for that you will have to look at the relevant Directive (EC Directive 2004/38 ) but as I recall the previous ones they provided that continuous absence of up to 6 months did not interrupt residence and that longer absences are allowed with explanation - such as sickness or pregnancy. Longer absence on military service is also allowed. Any decision to revoke a residence permit would also have to attract a right of appeal - again basic EU stuff.

I guess the notaries and district courts will get up to speed on this straight away because if not they will be liable to be sued for breach of community law under the Francovitch principle (the same one that cost the UK taxpayer billions when Parliament tried to stop Spaniards running British registered trawlers). Now it's payback time, unfortunately for the Bulgarians.

Why didn't any of the agents tell us this with all their vaunted in-house lawyers? Is it because they are brain dead or maybe they just prefer to deal with non-residents? Sorry if I offend anyone but I think being forthright often saves time.

A final note - I am pretty sure that the latest Bulgarian law accurately reflects the Treaty, but if it doesn't it's irrelevant as the British tax-payer learned to his cost over the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 (re trawlers).

Final note 2 (!) - Anyone who already owns a property via a company might like to consider disincorporating and taking the property into personal names because the CGT tax breaks are likely to be better and it would be cheaper to do this before any further price rise and before the property revaluation takes place earlier rather than later.

As always, satisfy yourself by taking your own advice.

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Postby Victor » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:04 am

Re residency, its usually accepted that you are a permanent resident (for tax purposes) if you are in a country for 180 days or more in any one calendar year.


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