1. Acquisition of immovable property by foreign persons/companies.
– Are there any legal restrictions that affect a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an immoveable property? Does nationality play a role at all?
No, a foreign citizen enjoys the same civil rights as the Belgians, nationality is indifferent as to the acquisition and enjoyment of civil rights (only ‘public’ rights or political rights, e.g. the right to vote, are dependent on the status of the person).
Art. 7 of the Belgian Civil Code: The exercise of the civil rights is independent of the status of Belgian citizen.
Art. 11 of the Belgian Civil Code: A foreign citizen enjoys all the civil rights that the Belgian citizens enjoy.
– Are any permits required by a foreign citizen wishing to purchase a real estate property?
2. Acquisition of agricultural land: restrictions and limitations.
– Are there any legal restrictions that affect a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an agricultural property? Is there any kind of limitation?
– Are any permits required by a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an agricultural property? Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?. If so, please describe the procedure and name the relevant authority that must grant approval.
3. Acquisition of flat property: legal restrictions.
– With regard to the purchase of flat property, are there any legal restrictions, such as approval by other apartment owners or by the management company responsible for the relevant property (stipulated in the statutes for example)?
The statutes of an apartment building can indeed provide that the future new owner of an apartment should be approved by (the majority of) the actual, present owners.
Such a clause in the statutes of the apartment building normally aims at preserving the present ‘status’ of the apartment building: e.g. no businesses or offices are allowed in a residential apartment building. (Sometimes, albeit non-officialy, the income of the future new owner is verified in order to make sure that he or she will be able to pay the common costs of the apartment building.)
– Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?
No. If such limitations exist, they are dealt with before the purchase of the apartment. The authentic act of sale of the apartment is entered in the land register as such: the registrar does not – and does not need to – verify the contents of the authentic acts, i.e. whether the limitations in the statutes of the apartment building have been observed or not.
4. Acquisition of immovable property in special areas (such as on the coast or near military-related sites or in national parks, in the mountains, etc.)
– Is a permit required for the acquisition of real estate property in special areas (such as on the coast or near military-related sites or in national parks, mountains, etc.)? Is this part of the Land Registry Procedure?
5. Acquisition of immovable property and listed monuments and memorials.
– Is a special permit required for the acquisition of monuments or listed buildings?
6. Planning Code and legal restrictions (pre-emption right; approval by the municipality or other authorities; splitting a land parcel).
– Do your municipalities or the government have a special pre-emption right to property (i.e. a right of first option for the sale of a real estate property)?
Different public authorities – central, regional and local – have various pre-emption rights.
These pre-emption rights serve an environmental purpose (e.g. purchase of forests) or a ‘social’ purpose in that they protect certain persons considered to be ‘weak’ and thus needing some support of the government (e.g. housing of people with small incomes).
– Does land division require a special permit?
Yes, the planning rules provide that a division of land cannot be executed without the approval of the local or regional authority-
– If yes, please name the relevant authority that must grant approval. Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?
No. The purchaser, the real estate agent and/or the notary are responsible for complying with these kind of rules. Once the contract of sale is concluded and the authentic act is signed, the authentic act is entered in the land register. The registrar does not – and does not need to – verify the contents of the authentic act. Cf. question III.
7. Land given by the municipality to domestic inhabitants: legal restrictions?.
– Does your national law have a so-called «local residents model», i.e. the allocation of land by the municipality under the condition that the buyer is obliged to keep the land and not to move away for a specific number of years?
8. Acquisition of immovable property and tax affairs.
– Must the transfer tax be paid before or after the registration in the land register? Can the Land Registry carry out the real estate property registration without a certification from the tax office?
As a general rule, the transfer tax is to be paid before the registration of the authentic act in the Land Registry (the tax is to be paid to the other branch of Patrimonial Documentation).
– Can the Land Registry carry out the real estate property registration without a certification from the tax office?
As a general rule, no: the transfer tax is to be paid before the registration of the authentic act in the Land Registry. A stamp stating that the transfer tax is paid is placed on the authentic act and if that proof of payment of the tax is not on the authentic act, the registrar will refuse to enter the act in the land register.
However, exceptions to this general rule exist: inter alia, authentic acts of Belgian judicial authorities and authentic acts of Belgian notaries can be entered in the land register without the transfer tax having been paid.
This means, in fact, that the general rule of prior payment does not apply to the Belgian authentic acts, which are by far quantitative the most important entries in the land register. In practice, however, the Belgian notary still pays the transfer tax before presenting the authentic acts to the Land Registry.
9. Destination of the land parcel and legal restrictions.
Does your national law have special legal restrictions that are already apparent from the description of the land parcel?
Normally one can find out what the legal restrictions are by consulting the maps: the different restrictions on the use of land are spatially located (to use the INSPIRE terminology) and can be represented on a map.
The most important restrictions deriving from the planning rules are also apparent in the name of the plot of land: ‘land for building’, ‘land for agriculture’ (where as a general rule it is forbidden to build), … Moreover in announcements of the sale of land, the exact name must be used (so that the purchaser is not defrauded).
10. Any other legal, very specific restrictions.
Does your national law have other, very specific legal restrictions that the Land Registry must observe?
No, and moreover, as a general rule the eventual restrictions are to be observed before concluding the contract: the registrar does not verify the contents of the authentic act (cf. questions III and VI).