Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
There are no restrictions on foreigners owning or occupying real estate (save minors) in the Republic of Ireland however anti-money laundering legislation requires that a number of checks be carried out on potential purchasers, and the identity of the buyer and ability to fund the transaction will need to be verified.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
As part of the due diligence planning searches and title searches will need to be conducted. The costs can vary depending on the location of the property.
A government tax (stamp duty) is payable on the acquisition of real estate save few exceptions. It can range from 1%, 2% and 7.5% depending on the type of property you are purchasing and the purchase price. A value added tax (VAT) levy of 13.5% may be chargeable on the transaction in addition to the purchase price. Finally, after completion there will be registration fees associated with registering the property/ owner in the Property Registration Authority. These registration fees vary depending on what type of property you purchased.
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)?
In a residential property the owner is obliged to pay local property tax. This cannot be passed onto a tenant or occupier. If a commercial property is purchased, rates are payable to the local authority in that area. This obligation can be passed on to an occupier.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
There are tax saving structures that can be adopted to alleviate a foreign investor’s tax burden. The appropriate structure for you would most likely be determined by what your intentions are for the property. For example, an investor could opt to become a Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) (if the necessary conditions are met) if rental property was one of its objectives because a REIT is not charged Irish corporation tax on income and gains arising from its property rental business.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
In the Republic of Ireland there are two systems of registration for property ownership. The first is the Land Registry and the second is the Registry of Deeds.
The Land Registry: registers the title. This is evidenced by a document called a folio which has a unique number. All titles registered in the Land Registry are state guaranteed title.
The Registry of Deeds: This system does not register the title, it registers documents. Your title is evidenced by a bundle of title documents.
Since 1 June 2011 all registry of deeds properties that are sold are subject to compulsory registration in the Land Registry.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
It is possible if you set up the ownership in a specific way. Generally however in a Land Registry context this information is very easily obtainable but in a registry of deeds context the searcher would require much more information to find out the legal owner. It is also possible for a party to purchase a property in trust for another person/party.