As the British people look towards a future where they are no longer EU citizens, some are wondering whether this will put them in an awkward place regarding their European housing or property investments.
Are there substantial limits on the right to own or rent out property in Europe by non-EU citizens?
There is no EU-wide ban or limitation on non-EU citizens owning or renting out property within the EU.
No such law exists, and there is no indication that such a law is likely to be forthcoming in the near future. However, that means that the EU has left it up to individual countries to set these laws for themselves.
Are there any European countries that limit property ownership by non-EU citizens?
Yes, there actually are a few.
For example, Malta, Poland, Denmark and Hungary all require foreign investors to seek local government permission before buying property. Of course, this is not a limit on existing ownership, so Britain’s exit from the EU should not affect existing ownership of property, but it could have a chilling effect on UK buyers in those countries going forward.
Austria, Finland and Switzerland all restrict the purchase of property by non-EU citizens in certain parts of their country, but not others.
Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, and Estonia all prevent non EU citizens from buying agricultural land, but not residential or commercial properties. Several Balkan countries that are working towards EU membership (Albania, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia) have similar restrictions.
There are 2 countries, Liechtenstein and Iceland, which do not allow non-residents to buy property at all. Of course, that makes it unlikely that any UK residents own property there at all, so it should not have a great deal of negative effect.
However, the majority of EU countries, and all of the major ones, allow foreign property investors the same rights as local investors.
Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Norway, the Netherlands, Monaco, Italy, Ireland Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Belgium (and even the UK, for as long as that status lasts) have no restrictions on foreign property investment.
That means that UK buyers and investors should expect no significant trouble buying properties in the majority of EU countries, nor should they expect to suddenly lose their rights to EU property they already own. However, investors interested in certain countries may wish to hurry their plans along, or rethink them entirely.