In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government has ordered all shops and service providers, except those providing certain vital services, to close to customers from 17 March 2020 until 13 April 2020. The closure of shops may entitle tenants to reduced rent and ancillary costs. However, it does not entitle tenants to terminate their lease for cause. This article sets out guidance for affected tenants and landlords.
In early 2019 the Supreme Court passed three decisions confirming and clarifying its 2017 decision which had limited landlords' right to request a location surcharge for rent-controlled apartments in desirable neighbourhoods. Based on the court's judgment, approximately 100,000 apartments no longer qualify for the location surcharge. However, the court's vague criteria for determining whether a neighbourhood is considered above or below average leave scope to include additional indicators.
A new provision in the Vienna Building Code recently entered into force, rendering short-term letting – including through rental services such as Airbnb – illegal in large areas of Vienna. Further, under the new provision, all parts of residential zone buildings that were being used for residential purposes when the provision entered into force – or were built thereafter – may be used only for residential purposes. That said, the new provision may be unconstitutional.
The City of Vienna recently announced its intention to reform the building code. Some building owners consider it unfair that strict maintenance obligations and rent limits apply only to old buildings, whereas buildings constructed after 8 May 1945 can be let at market rent. As a result, many building owners have chosen to tear down historic buildings and erect new concrete and steel structures in their place. Therefore, one of the aims of the reform is to protect the city's historic buildings.
Service charge provisions in shopping centre lease agreements frequently give rise to disputes between landlords and shop operators. In a recent decision on such costs, the Supreme Court offered some insights into shopping centre lease agreements which go beyond service charge provisions.
Restrictions on both domestic and international travel, lockdowns and curfews have been imposed in The Bahamas to restrict movement in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While law firms have had to close their physical doors to the general public, real estate and resort development attorneys have embraced new and efficient procedures for closing transactions.
The government recently announced an ambitious rental assistance programme to assist tenants who have been economically affected by COVID-19 and are unable to satisfy their contractual obligation to pay rent. However, many pundits have questioned the legality of rental assistance during a state of emergency.
To encourage the rebuilding effort in Abaco, Grand Bahama and the surrounding Cays after Hurricane Dorian, tax relief is now available under the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (Special Economic Recovery Zone) (Relief) Order 2019. This article examines the tax relief available with regard to real property.
In the 2019/2020 Budget Communication the government announced various tax reforms which came into effect on 1 July 2019. Among other things, the cap on owner-occupied property has increased from B$50,000 to B$60,000 per year and stamp duty on real property has been replaced by value added tax (VAT) at the same rates. Further, any party that is required to become a VAT registrant must have a business licence.
The Bahamas has an unregistered land system that is based on the conveyancing laws of England and Wales issued before 1925. Therefore, deeds and documents should be recorded in the Registry of Records in The Bahamas as soon as possible. Priority becomes particularly important in high-net-worth commercial and condominium development transactions.
In late 2018 the Stamp Duty Law (Revised) was amended in order to eliminate the growing practice of reducing stamp duty due to the government by means of linked property transactions (LPTs). Essentially, the reason for introducing the LPT provisions was to ensure that stamp duty is calculated on the total value of the raw land and the dwelling constructed on that land in the case of an LPT where a development scheme links the purchase of the raw land with the subsequent construction of a dwelling.
The Supreme Court recently rejected a first-instance rejection of a property owner's request for the return of land that had been compulsorily acquired by the state in 1977. The applicant claimed that the land was not being used for one of the acquisition's original purposes. However, the court found that as the applicant had taken no measures against the initial acquisition, he could not call it into question after 35 years by relying on the broadness of the stated purposes.
The Supreme Court recently issued its decision on the appeal of a district court interim decision concerning an application to present oral evidence as part of an application against a decision by the director of the Land Registry. The applicants had filed their application against the director's decision to grant a right of way to the respondent to the detriment of their immovable property.
The Limassol Rent Control Court recently dismissed an application regarding the eviction of a tenant from a leasehold. Since it was ruled that the first and second applicants had never owned the property, they were not entitled to file the eviction application. However, the court awarded damages in relation to unpaid rent to the third applicant (who became the actual owner of the property after the application).
The Nicosia Rent Control Court recently ruled on the outstanding rent of a statutory tenant. The court held that a provision for the increase of rent provided for in a tenancy agreement does not apply once the tenancy is converted into a statutory tenancy. However, by interpreting the terms of the tenancy agreement (which had been terminated in this case), the court concluded that it had not provided for an increase in rent during the first tenancy period.
Law 8(I)/2018 came into force in July 2018, amending the Transfer and Mortgage of Immovable Property Law. The new legislation was applied for the first time in a recent Nicosia District Court case, which is considered to be of great importance in assessing how the courts will interpret the new law in future. The case concerned an auction procedure which had been initiated by the sending of the relevant documents and notices to the mortgagor, which filed a lawsuit against Hellenic Bank to suspend a foreclosure procedure.
Tenants in Germany are generally well protected against rent increases in existing tenancies and high rent increases are uncommon; however, a major exception is when flats or houses are modernised. New legislation aims to offer tenants improved protection against abusive practices when modernisation work is announced and carried out and prevent them from being disproportionately burdened by rent hikes due to modernisation.
Federal Court of Justice case law suggests that the parties to a real estate purchase contract can in principle immediately change its content without having to comply with notarial form requirements after the notarial certification of the real estate purchase contract containing the conveyance has been concluded. The court's recent decision in this regard is to be welcomed in the interests of the continuity of its case law and in view of the lower courts' increasingly inconsistent case law in the past.
The Ministers of Finance of the Federal States recently agreed on new real estate transfer tax (RETT) rules for share deals. According to official press releases, a fundamental RETT reform that had been previously discussed was not agreed. Rather, the agreement consists of new RETT rules regarding share deals with a lower threshold, longer holding periods and aligning the rules that are applicable to corporations with those that already apply to partnerships.