Buying an apartment in a new residential complex / Buying an old house / Buying land for building purposes / How we can help you
Buying an apartment in a new residential complex
Thanks to the generous surface areas, the high level of comfort, the location and the related facilities (e.g. shops, fitness rooms, etc.) the purchase of an apartment in a new residential complex seems an inspired choice for a number of people.
In principle, the vast majority of apartments in new residential developments are contracted before their construction by means of (i) a reservation contract, followed by (ii) a preliminary sale and purchase contract, followed by (iii) a sales contract.
In the vast majority of cases, the construction and sale of residential apartments are carried out by reputable companies so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
However, in practice, a number of problems can arise in relation to new residential developments:
- after payment of a deposit the developer goes bankrupt;
- the construction completion deadline is extended beyond the time originally agreed;
- the finishes of the common parts are poorly executed;
- the building acceptance report cannot be concluded on completion of the works because the building permit has not been respected (e.g. more floors have been built than originally authorised);
- the new block cannot be connected to the utility networks;
- utilities are provided on a captive basis at prices artificially increased by the developer;
- it is discovered that certain parts of the building that should have been common to all co-owners are in the sole ownership of the developer;
- various exorbitant fees are set for so-called condominium management services;
- the construction documents (e.g. technical book, etc.) are not presented;
- the establishment of owners’ associations is being discussed.
The vast majority of these unpleasant situations can be avoided by checking a number of technical, legal and economic aspects:
- request and check the urban planning certificate issued for the construction of the future development in order to see what type of construction can be built (e.g. maximum number of floors);
- request and check the building permit to observe its compliance with the provisions of the urban planning certificate and the reality on the ground (e.g. how many floors the block has, if the number of parking spaces is respected, if the maximum height of the building is respected, etc.);
- verification of the absence of any dispute concerning the land title deeds;
- verification of the absence of any process concerning the cancellation of the building permit;
- Checking the position of the future building in relation to the property boundaries of the land (e.g. to avoid buying an apartment whose windows may be blocked by building a new construction on the neighbouring land);
- checking that the building is directly connected to the utility networks (water, gas, electricity, etc.);
- Checking and negotiating all the terms of the reservation contract so that the buyer is adequately protected in the event that the developer goes bankrupt;
- verification and negotiation of all the clauses of the preliminary sale-purchase contract (e.g. setting firm deadlines for the execution of the construction, setting penalties in case of delay of the works, the right to terminate the contract if the developer does not fulfil his obligations, the right to the refund of the deposit paid and any damages, etc.);
- Checking and negotiating all clauses of the sales contract (e.g. avoiding the obligation to pay unspecified fees for management services, avoiding paying utilities to the developer instead of the authorised suppliers, establishing penalty clauses in case the developer does not hand over all construction documents to the owners’ association, etc.);
- the follow-up of the cancellation of all mortgages in all land registers (the whole land register, the whole building register, the apartment register, the parking space register, etc.) after full payment of the price.
All these aspects can be checked with a number of specialists in the relevant fields (e.g. architects, construction engineers, surveyors, notaries public, lawyers, etc.).
In other words, unpleasant situations can be avoided by knowing the legal situation of the apartment before buying it.
For more details on what it means to know the legal status of a property please visit the section Legal status of a property.
For more information on the processes concerning building permits, please visit the section Cancellation of building permit.
Buying an old house
Due to the lower costs compared to new housing and/or the impressive architecture of inter-war buildings and/or their location in central areas, old buildings (pre-1990s) can be of real interest.
In general, the purchase of an old building requires a summary check of the property documents, their registration in the land register and payment of all taxes to the tax authorities up to date.
However, a number of unpleasant situations can arise in practice:
- the purchase of a building from a seller whose title deeds are not valid;
- purchase of a property in the process of being claimed by the true owner;
- the purchase of a property which is subject to special laws of retrocession;
- the purchase of a building constructed without planning permission;
- the purchase of a property without respecting the right of pre-emption established by law in favour of certain public authorities/institutions;
- the purchase of a building that cannot be demolished, but must be maintained in its original state of construction (e.g. a listed house).
Avoiding such situations can be achieved by carrying out a check on the legal situation of the property:
- verification of the legality of the seller’s ownership documents;
- checking whether or not the property is subject to restitution laws;
- check whether the property is the subject of a lawsuit or an execution;
- verification of relations and agreements with neighbours;
- verification of the classification of the building in the list of historical monuments and/or protected buildings;
- verification of the legal status of the land related to the construction (in ownership and/or use);
- identification of the urban parameters of the building (e.g. building in a protected area, building to be demolished or not, etc.).
These aspects can be verified both on the basis of documents and information held by the seller and following a dialogue with the competent authorities.
Purchase of land for building purposes
The purchase of land for the purpose of building a construction may involve checking a number of aspects:
- verification of whether or not the land is subject to retrocession laws;
- the legality of land ownership documents;
- in the case where the property deeds are title deeds issued on the basis of Law no. 18/1991, verification of the documents on the basis of which they were issued;
- verification of the exact position of the land in relation to the property boundaries and the accuracy of the documents establishing the boundaries;
- verification of the cadastral documentation on which the property right was based and the incidence of overlaps with neighbouring land;
- Checking the urban planning parameters of the land (e.g. whether the land is buildable or not, POT, CUT, technical land regime, etc.);
- checking legal limitations on building networks, if any;
- checking whether or not the land is the subject of a dispute.
For more details on land subject to restitution laws, please see the section Restitution of nationalised properties.
For more information on overlapping land please see the Overlapping land section.
How we can help you
In collaboration with specialists in all relevant fields (notaries public, architects, building engineers, surveyors, etc.) our lawyers can advise you and provide you with all the necessary information when purchasing a property, so that your purchase is made in full knowledge of the facts and protected against undesirable situations.
Additional information regarding the area of a building