Herbst Kinsky Rechtsanwälte GmbH
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Yes. Anyone (including foreigners) can own and occupy real estate (including shares in property owning companies) in Austria.
In general, the acquisition of real estate by non EU-citizens required a permit issued by local authorities. In addition, in certain regions of Austria the acquisition of secondary residences is restricted by quotas.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
In general, there are no restrictions on lending to foreign companies for the purchase of real estate in Austria. However, restrictions may result from the borrower, the borrower's controlling shareholder or the borrower's jurisdiction of incorporation being listed on a sanction list (Austria or EU).
Moreover, as the lenders are obliged to do a "Know Your Customer" check in advance of a lending, an indirect restriction may result if this "KYC-check" cannot be completed successfully, i.g. as to the borrower's lack of cooperation.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
The acquisition of Austrian real estate by the way of an asset deal triggers, first of all, real estate transfer tax at a rate of 3.5% of the assessment basis (which usually corresponds to the purchase price). In addition, for the registration of the legal title in the land register a registration fee (of generally 1.1% of the purchase price) is being charged. As the signatures in the purchase agreement need to be certified by a notary or by court (in order to be registered in the land register), notary or court fees are to be paid as well.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
Real estate is subject to property tax in Austria which is levied annually. The tax assessment basis is being determined by the responsible local tax office according to several factors like location, size, use and the local municipal coefficient.
The property tax can be fully passed on to the tenant (or every other contractual occupier) as part of the operating costs.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
There are no special incentives favouring foreign buyers of real estate in Austria. However, there are indirect ways to mitigate the tax burden within the acquisition of real estate especially by favourable corporate structures.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
In Austria, the ownership of real estate is evidenced via registration in the public land register which is administered by the local courts. Access to the public land register is possible (for a fee) via a notary, a lawyer or the court.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
It is not possible to keep ownership confidential in general in Austria. The ownership title of real estate is listed in the land register. In general, the land register is open to the public. However, insight into the public land register requires a certain legal interest. Apart from this, there are no other barriers to the access of the land register.
A higher degree of confidentiality could, however, be achieved through a corporate ownership structure, as only the legal owner, but not the factual owner, is registered in the public land register.