The operation of energy plants usually means securing the required land long term by way of a use agreement. Prematurely ending a use agreement can substantially reduce the profitability of investments in energy plants. Defects in the written form of use agreements therefore constitute a risk for such investments. However, the Federal Court of Justice has decided that written form remedy clauses are invalid and do not prevent a contracting party from terminating a use agreement by invoking a written form defect.
The proposed second part of the Spatial Planning Act revision will give the cantons more flexibility with regard to construction activities outside building zones so that they can consider their individual needs more appropriately. An initiative to stop uncontrolled urban sprawl will oblige the federation, cantons and communities to freeze the present size of building zones and ensure that the zones grow no further.
In the run up to the recent snap elections, Parliament passed a bill exempting rent agreements for residential leases from stamp duty. The stamp duty on non-residential leases – in particular, commercial and retail leases – remains unchanged. However, these leases are being re-evaluated due to recent case law from the tax authorities.
Where a farming operation is structured as a partnership, it is important to establish whether the underlying land is partnership property for a number of reasons. These can include whether the land is potentially subject to a legal rights claim on the death of a partner, ascertaining the sums due to the partners on the dissolution of a partnership and also tax reasons, such as whether the land will qualify for 100% business property relief for inheritance tax purposes.
The Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss a plaintiff's complaint that an amendment to Rockville's 'light industrial' municipal zoning ordinance was unconstitutional as it violated the due process and equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The ordinance made it impossible for Siena Corporation to build on its property a large self-storage facility within 250 feet of a public school.
The tenant farming commissioner recently issued guidance on how parties should negotiate the future of limited partnership tenancies. The guidance sets out certain key principles, including that discussions about the future of a limited partnership should take place well in advance of the termination date. Further, all options should be considered in an attempt to meet the wishes of the landlord and the limited and general partners and to support the future sustainable management of the holding.
In an unusual case, the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reversed the district court's decision that recently enacted Wyoming laws impose civil and criminal liability on any persons who "cross private land to access adjacent or proximate land where he [or she] collects resource data". The court concluded that the statutes regulate protected speech under the First Amendment and are not shielded from constitutional scrutiny merely because they touch on access to private property.
Balancing the interests of the federal government as owner of thousands of acres surrounding Crooked Lake and the rights of private owners, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently ruled that the US Forest Service exceeded its authority when issuing rules restricting recreational use of the lake. According to the court, relevant Michigan law grants owners of property surrounding the lake the right to reasonable use of the lake.
In 2015 Austria introduced an act which allows individuals, under certain conditions, to challenge laws before the Constitutional Court as unconstitutional. This gave hope to many landlords, which saw this as a tool to challenge the existing rent control regulations. The Constitutional Court recently handed down two new decisions on the same matter with surprising results.
Foreign investments in Swiss real estate are governed by a federal law known as the 'Lex Koller' and additional cantonal rules. The law restricts the acquisition of residential real property by non-Swiss residents. In a recent decision, the Federal Supreme Court decided for the first time that the sale of a vacation home between two non-Swiss residents is allowed only in designated communities. The decision stops a long-standing practice of the cantonal authorities.
A landlord can terminate a rental agreement for residential premises if he or she has a justified interest in ending the lease. Two recent Federal Court of Justice decisions provide clarification regarding a landlord's needs as grounds for termination. While the change in case law regarding the legal consequences of a breach of the duty to offer is welcome, the judgments also show that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether termination due to a landlord's needs can be declared valid.
An initiative adopted in 2012 led to a constitutional amendment limiting the total number of second homes in any municipality to 20% of the total number of residential units existing in the concerned municipality. Each municipality is obliged to keep an inventory of all homes and to update it by the end of each calendar year. The Federal Office for Spatial Development recently published the inventories of second homes for the first time.
Even though the federal Parliament recently rejected two motions to tighten the legal regime governing foreign investments in Swiss real estate, the federal government has now submitted a number of proposals that head in the same direction. Under the guise of closing loopholes and improving law enforcement, a substantial tightening of the legal regime governing foreign investments is under discussion.
A residential landlord's right to compensation for use against a tenant who has been given notice of termination but not vacated the property in time is often of concern if the landlord demands compensation to the value of the rent customarily paid in the area. Until now, how to calculate this compensation precisely has been unclear. A recent Federal Court of Justice case has created legal certainty for those applying the law and has strengthened the interests of landlords.
The Federal Fiscal Court recently clarified previously disputed issues on whether the lease of a shopping centre qualified as trade income or income from property administration. Surprisingly, the court also decided that marketing measures conducted by a centre manager are not detrimental for trade tax purposes, giving real estate investors much more flexibility for existing and future real estate investments in terms of ring-fencing trade tax exposures.
The Act on Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities recently entered into full force. The act prohibits, among other things, constructional barriers which prevent or impede disabled individuals from entering a building without help. While the act primarily addresses persons offering goods or services in such buildings, it also has implications for persons publicly offering real estate. In addition, the act has a significant impact on existing and new lease agreements.
Swiss environmental laws provide for certain requirements to allow new building zones and new buildings in areas that are affected by noise. To assess compliance with these requirements, noise measurements are required. In a recent decision, the Federal Supreme Court decided that a widely used method of measurement – so-called 'ventilation-window practice' – is not compatible with legal requirements.
The sale of German real estate by companies or natural persons based outside Germany was recently made more difficult by the fact that the German tax authorities have obliged buyers to withhold and pay a lump sum of up to 25% of the purchase price for the account of the seller to secure the income tax incurred on the purchase price. This tax deduction can lead to the transaction failing if the purchase price is insufficient to cover both the seller's financing and the lump-sum tax deduction.
The cadastre of public law restrictions on land ownership (PLR cadastre) is being developed by the federal government and the cantons. It is one of the three cornerstones of the Swiss cadastral system, besides the land register and cadastral surveying. Whereas information on private law restrictions can be obtained from the land register, the PLR cadastre provides information about the most important public law restrictions on land ownership.
Immovable property tax is payable annually and calculated by reference to the market value as at January 1 1980 of immovable property owned by the taxpayer at the beginning of the calendar year. For 2016 liability will continue to be calculated by reference to 1980 values, but immovable property tax will be abolished with effect from the beginning of 2017.