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A Global Guide To Property Ownership Rules And Restrictions

Thinking about acquiring a second home abroad? Worried about the stories you’ve heard? The ones where, having written the last check to the real estate agent, local officials knock on your new door to inform you that you don’t actually own your bijou residence on the beachyou were misinformed and you need to move out right now. Don’t panichelp is at hand.

Buying a second home in a foreign country can be difficult, but here at International Living we’ve done the groundwork for you already, and have sifted out the pitfalls and pluses of a variety of places where you might like to have a holiday or retirement home.

Read on for our country-by-country guide to property ownership restrictions, and find out what holds for whom, and where And, before you seriously consider buying property anywhere overseas, be sure to seek advice from a reputable in-country attorney, who can advise you on your purchasing or leasing options.

Argentina

This market is open to all; there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Argentina. Foreigners have the same rights in this respect as nationals, except for Argentine land near a foreign border. In this scenario, some additional paperwork is required, which may take a little longer.

Australia

Australian citizens and permanent residents can acquire any type of property. Foreigners not living in Australia, and corporations, can acquire up to 50% of residential developments, and are permitted to buy new property or land for building as long as construction starts within 12 months of purchase. Older properties can be purchased on condition that at least an extra 50% of the purchase price is spent on renovation, further construction or other improvements on the property. In all cases, however, foreign nationals need to obtain approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. This application should take roughly 40 days.

Bahamas

Buying property in the Bahamas is relatively easy, but you should be aware of certain requirements. Non-Bahamians must register any purchase with the Foreign Investments Board, and special permits are required, if the property is land of over 5 acres in size, if the property is to be used for rentalseven partiallyor if it is to be developed commercially. Foreigners should also register any property investment with the Exchange Control at the Central Bank of the Bahamas if they wish to sell and take the proceeds out of the country in the original currency of the transaction.

Belize

Government approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources is needed for any property purchase by non-locals, but there are few restrictions. Some coastal areas and cayes are restricted and require municipal approval for freehold sale. As this real estate market is totally unregulated, make sure you get as much help and advice as possible from specialists with experience of property deals in this country.

Brazil

Non-Brazilians can buy almost any property in Brazil, enjoying similar rights to nationals of this country. There are only restrictions for foreign ownership of property situated in or near areas of national security, near the coast, and near borders with other countries.

Bulgaria

There are no restrictions for foreigners wishing to buy buildings in Bulgaria, but land is restricted to Bulgarian nationals only. This can be legally circumvented by setting up a Bulgarian company and buying the land through the company. When Bulgaria joins the E.U. (it’s hoping to join in 2007), this restriction is expected to be lifted.

Canada

There are few restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Canada, apart from land belonging to the British crown. Some of this land may come up for sale, but will not be freehold. The restrictions tend to be at provincial or territorial level; on Prince Edward Island, for instance, non-residents need permission to buy more than 5 acres of property, and, in Saskatchewan, the acquisition of property of over 10 acres is not permitted. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, the other east coast provinces, as well as the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia do not have restrictions on foreign ownership.

Croatia

Non-Croatians can purchase real estate in this country if they have approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The approval is issued if Croatian nationals can purchase real estate in the country of the purchaser. This approval can take up to 12 months, but can be reduced if the property is bought via a domestic company, which can be entirely owned and controlled by a foreigner.

Czech Republic

Real estate may only be acquired by E.U. citizens with a Czech spouse or those who are permanent residents in the Czech Republic. An officially registered legal entity can also buy real estate. These restrictions are expected to be lifted in 2009, when the Republic’s first five years’ membership of the E.U. is up.

Ecuador

Foreigners wishing to purchase real estate in Ecuador need permission (usually granted) to acquire land within 30 miles of the coast or a border. Certain land considered an area of national security by the government cannot be bought.

France

Surprisingly for one of the most bureaucratic countries in Europe, there are no restrictions on who can acquire real estate in France, and you will be treated the same as French citizens when buying property.

Honduras

There are some restrictions on owning real estate in Honduras. As an individual foreigner, you are allowed to buy property not exceeding three quarters of an acre. Coastal land, and land within 25 miles of international borders, is restricted, but a purchase may be permitted if you obtain approval from the Tourism Institute and start construction within 36 months.

Italy

As in France, there are no restrictions on who can buy property in Italy.

Mexico

Technically, as a foreigner, you are not allowed to buy real estate within 62 miles of an international border or 31 miles of the coast, but these restrictions can be sidestepped legally, either by buying via a Mexican land trust (fideicomiso) or via a Mexican corporation. Another issue to be aware of is that ejido land (land granted by the government to Mexico’s indigenous people) cannot be owned by foreigners, and therefore any transaction involving this is fraught with risk and best avoided.

New Zealand

There are a few restrictions for foreigners wishing to buy property in New Zealand, but they are not too limiting. These restrictions cover non-New Zealanders wanting to acquire more than 12 acres, land of more than 1 acre adjoining or containing “sensitive” land (including reserves, specified islands and historic or heritage land and lakes), and land of over half an acre on or adjoining the oceanfront. In these situations, the buyer must obtain approval from the Overseas Investment Commission, and, for applications concerning “sensitive land,” from a Minister. The paperwork process is swift and can usually be completed within one month.

Nicaragua

You have the same rights as Nicaraguans regarding property ownership, the only areas to be wary of being in the autonomous regions, Regiones Autonomistas, where the government needs to consult the indigenous people.

Panama

There are few limitations on what non-Panamanians can buy in terms of real estate. Property within six miles of international borders is out of bounds, and there are restrictions on some island and waterfront property unless it is situated in one of the Tourism Zones. Beachfront properties must provide a right of way. Building over the water also requires a permit with a special concession from the maritime authorities and the Ministry of Finance, with the exception of Isla Contadora in the Pearl Islands.

Poland

Foreigners, and companies where foreigners have controlling interest, are free to buy urban plots of up to 1 acre, or rural land of 2.5 acres, but agreement must be obtained from the Polish Ministry of the Interior. This can be waived, however, if you have a permanent resident’s permit and have been living in Poland for five years, or if you have a Polish spouse and have been living in Poland for two years. Permission is generally easily granted.

Romania

The acquisition of apartments and buildings is unrestricted for foreigners, but land is not allowed to pass to non-Romanians unless it is via a Romanian company (even 100% foreign-controlled). Some land, such as forest land, reserves and coastline, cannot be bought by anyone, regardless of nationality.

Spain

As in France and Italy, there are no restrictions on property ownership for foreigners, with the exception of military land and land near international borders.

Sri Lanka

Foreigners are permitted to own land, but there is now a 100% transfer tax for foreigners in Sri Lanka, thus effectively doubling the price of the property. This may be circumvented by arranging very long term leases, or, in condominiums, by buying above a certain story. A recent law has also banned construction within 330 feet of the shore.

Thailand

Property ownership for foreigners in Thailand is carefully controlled. Without special permission from the Minister of the Interior, foreigners are not allowed to own the land on which any piece of property is found, or to own a condo in a building if 49% of the other condos are foreign-owned. This problem can be resolved in several ways, some more realistic than others.
For those with 40 million baht ($1,100,000) to spare, no problem, as this sum will allow you to acquire just over a third of an acre.

For the less well-heeled, one of the most common solutions is setting up a Thai-registered limited liability company and buying real estate through this company, but there must be at least seven shareholders in the company, and the foreign shareholder cannot hold a stake of more than 49%. The Ministry of the Interior, while ostensibly not wishing to stymie foreign investment, is cracking down on the use of Thai-owned companies which appear to hold land for foreigners, so more foreigners are looking at alternatives to this method. Purchase of land through a Thai spouse is one of these alternativesif the spouse is prepared to sign a declaration to say that the property was purchased with funds that they had before the marriage.

Otherwise, an increasing number of foreigners are considering long-term leasing: A Thai nominee purchases the property with your funds and you enter into a long-term lease of up to 30 years, which can be renewed. The initial period of lease and subsequent extensions should be clearly stated in the contract, along with the declaration that these have been paid for in advance. An option can be included in the contract to allow you to purchase the land outright if the law changes to allow foreign ownership.

A right of usufruct provides temporary ownership rights for a period of up to 30 years, which may be renewed, but although these rights can be sold or transferred, they cannot be inherited as they expire upon the death of the holder.

Becoming a permanent resident is one other possibility, especially if you are thinking about retiring in this very affordable country. Check the website www.thaivisa.com for details.

Further Resources

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Container Gardening Ideas For Pots And Planting Herbs

For container gardening ideas, scan the internet, the library or a bookstore. The challenge is to come up with a lovely container garden plan. There are a widespread collection of containers available for your container garden. These range in size from small-scale house-plant pots to sizeable boxes and planters. Equally varied are the materials from which they are made. These include wood, glass, clay, aluminum, bamboo, straw, plastic, fiberglass, terra cotta, tin, cast iron, zinc, copper, and brass, each with select advantages and disadvantages. What you choose will depend on availability, price, background, and attraction not to mention the characteristics of the gardening pots.

Here are some container gardening ideas. In addition to run-of-the-mill circular pots and tubs, there are modern and ultra-modern forms such as square, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, and octagonal. Also eligible are old iron kitchen pots, kettles, pails, jugs, casks, vases, crocks, jam tubs, barrels and nail kegs, Japanese fish tubs, aged sinks, bathtubs, bamboo soy tubs. There are novelty containers such as driftwood, wheelbarrows, donkey carts, spinning wheels and boxes attached to a roadside mail container. There are also bird cages, decorative well heads, animal figures, and Strawberry jars. Woven baskets may be used to conceal unattractive containers. Even tar paper pots, handled by garden centers and florists are worthy if painted or veiled to upgrade their exterior. Any of these can be used in your container gardening ideas.

Where to find your container supplies? Begin with what you possess. If you explore cellars or basements, attics, garages, and sheds, you will doubtless encounter objects of interest. Old-fashioned pots and kettles, usually sold in antique shops at rural auctions or observed at old New England inns, have much attraction.

Different container garden ideas to ponder are old cookie and bean jars, pickle and other types of crocks, wash tubs, coal pails, jardinires, and ceramic bowls. For drainage, scatter a thick layer of substantial pebbles or shattered pieces of pots or bricks at the bottom and then moisten plants with care. In substantial containers, drainage material should be many inches thick. Where rainfall is hefty, be certain to keep garden containers without drainage outlets on porches, below awnings or the under sizable eaves of house. With pails and old galvanized wash tubs, holes can be easily punctured at the bottom.

Plants in containers without drainage openings stay wet longer. Some of thesecrocks, jardinires and cookie jarsare massive enough to be secure against the elements in exterior container gardening.

What constitutes the perfect container for your container garden ideas? A container needs to be attractive, even if it is not an object of art. It should be sturdy and lasting and able to resist all kinds of weather. This is especially true of the substantial sizes which ofttimes continue outdoors all year around. In the North, alternate icy and thawing is a predicament in winter (and could generate cracking); in blazing climates, intensive heat, humidity, and moisture are to be considered (and could cause fading). And in semiarid areas, there is the impact of searing sun to keep your attention, another source of fading. All these things need be kept in mind when coming up with your container gardening design.

The perfect container must be vast enough to hold a sizeable quantity of soil. It should have super drainage facilities through holes or various openings at the bottom or sides. It must not rust, at least in a single season, and it should have a wide enough base to perch firmly wherever placed. Further, it needs to be heavy enough to withstand average winds. In severe storms, like hurricanes and tornadoes, movable containers can be shifted to interim safety. All of these things should be factored in when you are coming up with your container gardening ideas.

Resistance to rot is another requisite. Wooden containersexcept those made of rot-resistant Redwood, Western Cedar, and Southern Red Cypresswill require treatment with a wood preservative. Except for lifelong containers, the capability to move your container garden is another quality, and sometimes a safety precaution, of portable container gardening. Sizable boxes and planters can be equipped with wheels, and garden centers have redwood tubs that perch on platforms with wheels. An opening in the platform corresponds to the hole in the tub. Sizeable containers without wheels can be pushed on iron or wooden rollers by two or more people; however, if you live in an area inclined to severe storms it is best to keep your containers small-scaled.

Smaller containers are ideal for cultivating herb container gardens. If you plan to plant an herb container garden be imaginative. Here are some container garden ideas for herbs that go great together.
* For an Italian selection try Sweet Basil, Italian Parsley, Oregano, Marjoram and Thyme.
* For a pleasing scented container use Lavender, Rose Scented Geranium, Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, and Pineapple Sage.
* For utterly extravagant salads try Garlic Chives, Rocket, Salad Burnet, Parsley, Celery.
* And to say We love French Cooking! use Tarragon, Chervil, Parsley, Chives and Sage.
Any of these will liven up your meal and please your family.

So these are just a few container gardening ideas. Get out a pad of paper and make up a container garden plot that will add to the view and conceivably even the palate.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at http://www.GardeningHerb.com and http://www.ContainerGardeningSecrets.com To read more of her articles go to http://www.ArticleBazaar.net

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