Monday, 5 September 2016

Legal Advice in Bulgaria

Please read a guest post by a lawyer Mr Milen Yonkov he can be contacted on: 

Access to the country is getting easier and cheaper as more tourist operators fly to regional airports. As Bulgaria joined the EU, more and more low-cost airlines operate in the country giving access to most tourist destinations in Europe.Bulgaria enjoys a mild climate for most of the year. Summers are hot reaching up to 35 degrees and winters are soft on the seacoast and excellent for winter sports in the mountains.
In recent year Bulgarian economy is growing, road infrastructure is developing and the political situation is stabilizing. When we add the fact that Bulgaria is one of the countries with lowest risk of terrorism attacks, the country offers a good environment for investments or buying a home.
There are many advantages when it comes to buying a real estate in Bulgaria. The country itself has a lot to offer with its amazing seacoast and beautiful mountains, countless historical monuments and modern lifestyle.
On the other hand, property prices in Bulgaria are rising rapidly, still keeping their good value compared to Western European standards, which makes them a preferred destination for people planning to retire to Bulgaria and live with their foreign pensions.
There are certain things you need to know before buying a property in Bulgaria.
Although there are some developments and changes now that the country is part of the EU, there are many legal procedures which are crucial before spending your money.
Bulgarian law allows foreign persons to buy property in the country. but yet there are some limitations. All foreign natural or legal persons can buy apartments in Bulgaria on their own names, provided that the apartments don't come with ideal parts of the land on which the apartments were built. Good thing is most of the apartments listed for sale in Bulgaria are sold without parts of the land, so in most cases you will be able to buy an apartment without any limitations. 
The process of purchasing an apartment in Bulgaria is similar (for other EU citizens) to that in most other European Union countries. You require only your passport and the money to make the transaction. Until 2014, foreigners had to first form a Bulgarian registered company in order to buy property. But now, as per the agreement made at the time that Bulgaria became a member of the EU in 2007, foreigners can buy and inherit landed property in the country.
There are mostly finished properties on the market. What you need to make sure before buying is that you have a reliable, English-speaking agent who knows the market well and will help you choose a good area and a well maintained building.
Although most properties look great on the website, many of them have issues which are hidden on the advert. When your agent is good he will not only always inform you about such problems but also advise you on costs for fixing them or options for negotiating the price.
Another important thing is to make sure you will not have to pay any hidden taxes to the real estate agency. Most of the real estate agencies have hidden taxes and terms which will make your property investment a nightmare.
On the other hand, ALWAYS make sure that the agency you are using will provide legal assistance or if this is not the case, make sure you have an English-speaking lawyer, familiar with the market to assist you in your purchase in order to avoid any problems.
You will need this in order to make sure the property you are buying has all required documents, especially if your target is a plot of land (with or without any buildings on it).
First you need to make sure the land is approved as building land by the local authorities. You cannot build residential properties on land that has been designated as industrial or some other regulated zone. There are also unregulated lands that are meant for agricultural purposes. In some cases, agricultural land may be regulated in such a way that a property can be built on it.
Once the piece of land has been regulated, you need to obtain a permit that allows you to start building. This permit is called a PUP, and to acquire it, you need to submit the architectural drawings of your property along with a schedule of the complete construction process. It usually takes a couple of months to get the PUP, which marks out the specific area of the land on which building can begin, and also sets out the maximum height of the property. Following this, you can get approvals from water, electricity and gas suppliers in the area, and building can finally begin.
If the plot already has some kind of building on it you still need to make sure the land has all the documents so you can enjoy the property, renovate it etc.
As Bulgarian legal system is different with the common law legal system, make sure your lawyer has knowledge of both systems so he can keep you informed. Keep in mind that in Bulgaria few lawyers and legal advisers speak English. Make sure your lawyer knows your needs and he is not only going to charge by the hour without doing any actual work for you.
The best way to avoid any issues is to trust a consultancy business mainly working with foreign clients and investors where all the services you need will be offered to you from one place. In this way you have one company responsible for your needs.

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