Real Estate updates

Austria

Contributed by Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtsanwalte GmbH
COVID-19 and commercial leases – new court decisions
  • Austria
  • 26 March 2021

To date, there have been three COVID-19-related lockdowns in Austria. During each of these periods, the customer area of shops had to be closed to the public, except for certain essential retail stores. Restaurants could offer takeaway and delivery services only and hotels were shut subject to certain exceptions. This situation has created significant uncertainty regarding tenants' right to claim a COVID-19-related rent reduction. The Austrian courts recently issued two new decisions on this matter.

COVID-19 and commercial leases – one year on
  • Austria
  • 12 March 2021

Two lower court decisions have confirmed tenants' right to claim a COVID-19-related rent reduction in general. However, both decisions must be read carefully and leave many questions unanswered, particularly in cases where shops made or could have made limited use of their premises during the national lockdowns by offering online delivery or click and collect services. In addition, state aid may affect rent reductions. This uncertainty has led to many mutual agreements in the market.

COVID-19 measures may entitle tenants to rent reductions
  • Austria
  • 03 April 2020

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.

Supreme Court redefines location surcharge in rent control leases
  • Austria
  • 18 October 2019

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.

Vienna Building Code: new provision renders short-term letting illegal
  • Austria
  • 31 May 2019

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.


Bahamas

Homeowners Protection Act – time to revisit
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 02 April 2021

The Homeowners Protection Act was designed to provide meaningful protection to homeowners by ensuring a true and proper discourse between borrowers and financial institutions and will likely become the epicentre of the mortgage market. However, the act has failed to achieve the balance that it sought to accomplish and is in dire need of reform.

Real Property Tax Forgiveness Programme 2021: overview
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 19 March 2021

The prime minister recently announced a Real Property Tax Forgiveness Programme which will provide waivers to Bahamian and non-Bahamian property owners in The Bahamas who are in arrears. The programme is aimed at collecting outstanding property taxes in order to bring persons into compliance and increase government revenue. It will also assist in easing the financial burden on property owners which has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential economic downturn.

New legislation aims to promote proper use of environment
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 04 December 2020

In December 2019 Parliament passed a package of environmental bills geared towards developing, reinforcing and strengthening the laws which promote and support the management, protection, enhancement and proper use of the Bahamian environment. This article provides an overview of the new legislation, including the Environmental Planning and Protection Act, which is one of the most notable new laws with respect to Bahamian real estate and development.

Guide to purchasing property in The Bahamas
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 28 August 2020

A second home in The Bahamas has been a highly sought-after commodity for international buyers from time immemorial. The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation of 700 islands and cays, with each island providing its own charm and unique Bahamian culture. As the value of real property in the jurisdiction tends to hold or gradually appreciate over time, the purchase of real property remains a viable and attainable wealth-creating mechanism.

Tax consequences of transferring Bahamian real property held by a company for estate planning
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 24 July 2020

Bahamian real property is commonly held by a company which is incorporated in The Bahamas or another jurisdiction whose shares may be held by an individual or their nominee. A 'beneficial owner' is any person who is beneficially interested in the real property, including a beneficiary under a trust. This article considers the tax consequences of transferring Bahamian real property held by a company for estate planning purposes.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Ogier
Observations about linked property transactions under Stamp Duty Law
  • Cayman Islands
  • 27 March 2020

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.


Cyprus

Supreme Court rejects administrative recourse challenging compulsory acquisition notice
  • Cyprus
  • 02 August 2019

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.


Germany

Do tenants have to pay rent during a government-ordered shutdown?
Noerr PartGmbB
  • Germany
  • 19 March 2021

The courts have yet to resolve some legal issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether tenants can reduce or even suspend their rent payments due to widespread government-ordered shutdowns. More than 20 court decisions have been handed down on this subject, and the opinions expressed vary widely. Even the German law that entered into effect on 31 December 2020 via an expedited legislative procedure does not provide final, generally applicable clarity on this issue.