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Real estate transactions in Austria

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As is the case in the Netherlands there is a requirement under civil law that for the transfer of property ownership rights a valid title must be available and that this transfer is registered in the land registry (‘Grundbuch’).

The Grundbuch is administered by the district courts, called ‘Bezirksgerichte’, within whose jurisdiction the property is situated. Certain limited rights and limitations (attached to the property) are also recorded in the Grundbuch, such as:

  • ‘Hypotheken’ (Mortgages).
  • ‘Dienstbarkeiten’ including easements and, for example, right of usufruct.
  • ‘Reallasten’, these are limited rights on the land ‘ to do’ or to carry out certain recurrent performances for the benefit of the dominant land.
  • ‘Baurechte’, comparable to rights of superficies,  the right to own and/or realise a building on another party’s land.
  • ‘Pfändungspfand’, executory attachments preventing disposal.
  •  ‘Mietrechte’, certain rights of renting and renting out (not in accordance with ‘Mietrechtgesetz’).
  • ‘Wiederkaufsrechte’, so called buy-back rights.
  •  ‘Vorkaufsrechte’, so called right of first buy.

Depending upon what object is involved and for what purpose it is used, they could, for example, concern the acquisition of an apartment right, right of superficies or house, the acquisition of a rented object (so called ‘Zinshaus’) or, for example, if the purchase is aimed at a certain business purpose, such as operating a hotel or restaurant business, specific legislation applies. This information is not (always) fully available from the Grundbuch.

Such legislation includes ‘Wohnungseigentumgesetz’ (for apartment rights), Allgemeines Grundbuchgesetz, which includes rules for publicising and entering information in the land registry, the Mietrechtsgesetz (which includes rules about the renting out of houses and incorporates mandatory rules of rent protection) and civil law regulations “Allgemeines Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch” (the so-called general Civil Code, abbreviated as ABGB).

For each case specific attention must be paid to the local regulations and any limits on possibilities for use, building regulations and further classification requirements. For example, limits on designated use (‘Widmung’), certain ‘Grundverkehrsgesetze’ for recreational uses that are in force in specific component states whereby the local authority’s permission is required to achieve a valid transfer of ownership, licences to practise certain professions such as catering and hotel activities, (‘Gewerberecht und Gastgewerbe’) and for which you have to comply with specific qualifications. 

If you are considering purchasing property in Austria, we could carry out a so called general check for you with regard to land registry and possibilities for use. This can usually be done for a set amount.

Depending on what your intentions are, further tailor-made services may be needed. For example, if you wish to buy a property from an investment point of view, for example with the aim to use it as a renting opportunity, due diligence regarding the purchase object and the (existing) obligations and any running (rental) contracts may be necessary.

We will be able to help you in this respect with all aspects of the property transaction, including providing the necessary relevant (buyer) information at the start of the transaction, the setting up of a purchase agreement and facilitating the conclusion of the transaction and delivery (the so called ‘treuhändische Abwicklung’ and the further registration in the Grundbuch of the ownership right.

The conclusion of the complete transaction will usually be effected on the basis of a percentage of the purchase amount of the property to be agreed in advance.