Apartment purchase in Belarus
Nowadays it’s becoming quite popular for foreign citizens to purchase real estate in the Republic of Belarus.
This observation stems from the favourable taxation system for natural persons and legal entities, territorial location of the Republic of Belarus, the country’s magnificent nature and the standard of living in general.
The requirements a foreigner must comply with in order to purchase an apartment are quite simple:
- They must have passport with a notarized translation into Russian;
- They must have a temporary registration;
- And, in case a foreigner doesn’t speak Russian, there must be an interpreter present at the conclusion of a transaction.
(Note: translation of the passport is not required for the citizens of Russian Federation).
In this article we will consider the main points to which one should pay attention before concluding a sale and purchase contract for the property, as well as the actions of the new owner after the transaction.
Checking of the apartment’s background
The first thing that needs to be done is checking the apartment’s title documentation.
You should ask the Seller for a document, which confirms that they are indeed the owner of the apartment. It can be a gift contract, a contract of purchase, a certificate of inheritance rights, etc.
This documentation should be verified via an extract from the Unified State Register of Immovable Property, Rights thereto and Transactions therewith (hereinafter – USRIP). You can order the extract from USRIP from the Agency on State Registration and Land Cadastre. It takes up to three working days to receive the extract.
After making sure that you are dealing with the owner of a residential property, you should check their passport data against information contained in the state registration certificate. Change of name or place of registration of the seller should also be added into the register.
When you are done with the previous stages, you should proceed with checking if the apartment specifications sheet is consistent with the actual condition of the apartment: this includes the floor space, the presence of alterations, and other data that should be reflected in the specifications sheet.
In case of any discrepancies detected the Seller must register changes of the residential premises and get a new specifications sheet.
Then it’s necessary to make sure that the apartment has no bans, restrictions or encumbrances. Such restrictions or encumbrances may include:
- A prohibition on the disposal on the basis of privatization until full settlement;
- Presence of a court dispute;
- An indication of the planned demolition, etc.
An important point is whether or not there is a valid residential lease agreement.
This agreement grants the tenant the right to own and use the residential premises for the purpose of accomodation. The agreement may be either fixed-term or open-term.
Both fixed-term and open term residential lease agreements have to be terminated before the title to the apartment is transferred to the Buyer. In accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus, the tenant of the residential premises will be entitled to reside in the apartment, even if the owner of the premises changes, as long as the agreement is in force.
Background check involving customer reference
This procedure is necessary for determining individuals who are currently registered and are living in the apartment. You can do this by obtaining a copy of the customer reference issued to the apartment owner.
There is also a detailed copy of the customer reference, which contains information on minors recently discharged from the apartment, convicts, servicemen deregistered for the time of their service, and people receiving medical treatment.
If the rights of these categories of citizens are infringed, the transaction can be held invalid.
Other information that can affect the conclusion of the sale and purchase agreement
In addition to the previously discussed issues, the Buyer should also check the Seller’s dispositive legal capacity, the availability of spousal consent, if the apartment was purchased during the marriage, the consent of the other owners, if any, and the presence of household indebtedness or lack thereof.
You can ask the Seller for a letter of delegation in order to check all of the information. The letter of delegation will give you or your representative the authority to obtain certificates and extracts.
Consequences of not conducting a background check of the apartment
Failure to a background check of the apartment may lead to the following negative consequences:
- The recession the sale and purchase agreement;
- The presence of unwanted tenants under a valid lease;
- Declaration of hidden heirs and claimants of the share in the apartment.
In order to avoid these kinds of situations, you should thoroughly check the apartment and its owners before consummating a deal. You can conduct a check of the apartment by yourself or ask a realtor.
Conclusion of a preliminary sale and purchase agreement
If you are satisfied with both the apartment and the Seller, but can’t close the transaction, the parties can conclude a preliminary agreement for the purchase of the apartment. Its conclusion is not obligatory, but is nevertheless recommended in the following cases:
- You don’t have an opportunity to conclude an agreement at once (you don’t have enough money, documents etc.);
- The Seller doesn’t have a full set of documents necessary for the transaction and it’s going to take time to collect them;
- If there are other conditions preventing closing of the transaction.
The preliminary contract must include:
- The exact information with regard to the apartment and its location;
- The price at which the apartment will be sold or purchased;
- The list of persons that reserve the right to use the apartment (for example, if the tenants continue to live in the apartment after it has already been sold).
Note: the price fixed in the agreement can not be changed unilaterally, i.e. the Buyer is obliged to buy and the Seller is obliged to sell the apartment at the price set out in the preliminary agreement.
It should be noted that the terms of the preliminary agreement can be changed only by the parties’ mutual consent. The refusal to conclude the main contract in the future will also be possible only by the parties’ mutual consent.
In order to prove the conclusion of the agreement and to ensure its execution, the parties have the right to include a provision regarding the deposit to be issued on account of payments due.
If the main agreement is not concluded due to the fault of the Seller, the Seller shall pay to the Buyer the double amount of the deposit, and if the main contract is not executed due to the fault of the Buyer, the deposit shall not be refunded.
Note: the Buyer has the right to pursue litigation demanding to compel the Seller to conclude the main agreement of sale and purchase instead of demanding payment of double the amount of the deposit.
Conclusion of the main sale and purchase agreement
The next stage is the conclusion of the main sale and purchase agreement.
The agreement must contain all of the previously agreed on conditions, namely: the subject and the price. The transfer of the real estate by the Seller and its acceptance by the Buyer is performed under a transfer act or other document of transfer signed by the parties.
As for the payments, they can be made in any form and at any time: before, at the onset of or after the conclusion of the agreement.
Important: the settlement between the Buyer and the Seller is not allowed to be made in a foreign currency. However, it is possible to determine the equivalent of this monetary amount in foreign currency or in conventional monetary units.
In case of violation of this requirement the agreement of sale and purchase may be held invalid, and the money and the apartment may be seized to the state revenue.
Filing of the transaction and transfer of the title
Real estate deals may take place either at a notary’s office or at a real estate registration office.
After the transaction is concluded and filed, the Buyer still needs to perform certain actions.
Please note: both the Buyer and the Seller shall apply for the state registration of the sale and purchase agreement together.
The registration takes 5 business days (2 days on a fast-track basis, 1 day on an urgent basis).
It must be remembered that failure to comply with the requirement to register a real estate deal results in such a deal being held invalid.
The most important aspect is to register the transfer of the title to the apartment. From that moment the Buyer becomes the sole and absolute owner of the purchased real estate.
The transfer of the title is registered at the Agency on State Registration and Land Cadastre with consideration of the territorial location of the real estate.
Within a reasonable time after the purchase of the apartment the new owner needs to re-register the supply agreement, the agreement on water use, the internet contract, the telecommunications service contract, as well as to conclude an agreement on maintenance and communal services (HMS).
It usually takes no more than 2 hours to re-register a contract.
Why you should choose us
– representative office formation is one of the main specializations of our law office;
– English-speaking attorneys;
– Within last 5 years we helped to register more than 25 representative offices in Belarus;
– We have only experienced lawyers and advocates: some of our lawyers have more than 20 years of experience in the field;
– High level of confidentiality;
– Fair pricing policy: we always make even more than we agreed!
How we can help you in the process of apartment purchase in Belarus
Our attorneys and advocates have a lot of experience in real estate transactions in Belarus. We can help you to buy an apartment in Belarus from A to Z. Our lawyers will check the background of the apartment (house, plot), will advise you on the whole process of the real estate transaction as well as will help you to complete the deal.
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