Farmland: the new trap set by the government

New amendments were introduced to the Ownership and Use of Agricultural Land Act on 27 March 2012. All agricultural land owners or lessees are now obliged by 31 July each year to submit declarations to the local offices of the Agriculture Municipal Service. The declarations need to point out how the farmland they own or use will be used.

Art 37b. (1) Each owner shall submit a declaration form in the local Agricultural Municipality Service, where the land is located. The Form shall state the possession type and the type of long term usage of the land...
Normally that is not a problem, but it's yet another administrative burden. The real problem may occur to owners who don't use their farmland or foreigners who have bought farmland though a limited company and haven't leased it to a local farmer.

The arguable text of Art. 37c para 3 says:

When there is no consent between the users in terms of the agreement pursuant para 1 as well as for all land that is out of the scope of the agreement, the Commission drafts a plan for distribution of usage of the land, by plots by 15 September each year, in the following way:...

Note that "all land that is out of the scope of the agreement" refers to the farm land that no declaration is submitted for. This means that if you miss to declare the type of usage of your farmland, the government considers it as abandoned and may grant its usage to a third party without your consent or approval. Legally speaking this is private property interference and creates a huge corruption base as well as a base for legal disputes.

The government idea is to make use of all farmland, which is not used right now. The amount of such land is huge since after privatisation in 1990 each farmland plot was returned to 10+ heirs. Some of them live abroad, others because of legal disputes can't cultivate their land. There are also simply non-interested parties so the farm land is not cultivated.

Farmland: the new trap set by the government

New amendments were introduced to the Ownership and Use of Agricultural Land Act on 27 March 2012. All agricultural land owners or lessees are now obliged by 31 July each year to submit declarations to the local offices of the Agriculture Municipal Service. The declarations need to point out how the farmland they own or use will be used.

Art 37b. (1) Each owner shall submit a declaration form in the local Agricultural Municipality Service, where the land is located. The Form shall state the possession type and the type of long term usage of the land...
Normally that is not a problem, but it's yet another administrative burden. The real problem may occur to owners who don't use their farmland or foreigners who have bought farmland though a limited company and haven't leased it to a local farmer.

The arguable text of Art. 37c para 3 says:

When there is no consent between the users in terms of the agreement pursuant para 1 as well as for all land that is out of the scope of the agreement, the Commission drafts a plan for distribution of usage of the land, by plots by 15 September each year, in the following way:...

Note that "all land that is out of the scope of the agreement" refers to the farm land that no declaration is submitted for. This means that if you miss to declare the type of usage of your farmland, the government considers it as abandoned and may grant its usage to a third party without your consent or approval. Legally speaking this is private property interference and creates a huge corruption base as well as a base for legal disputes.

The government idea is to make use of all farmland, which is not used right now. The amount of such land is huge since after privatisation in 1990 each farmland plot was returned to 10+ heirs. Some of them live abroad, others because of legal disputes can't cultivate their land. There are also simply non-interested parties so the farm land is not cultivated.

Forging distribution of common areas in apartment complexes

We have been warning apartment owners that developers use incorrect calculation of common parts, in order to gain majority in the condominium General Meetings. Thus they set their own decisions about which will be the maintenance company and how much that maintenance company will be paid. It's out of question that they form their own maintenance companies and get the maintenance fees.

For the past year we have been fighting such developer in Bansko. He had built three apartment blocks and have used only the initial common areas calculations for selling the apartments and consequently defining how big is the voting right of each apartment owner. The problem was that the plans of the building were changed 2 times during the construction. This inevitably changes the distribution of the common areas percentage and the subsequent voting rights. However that was never written in the table of common areas. This enabled the developer to "blackmail" the rest of the owners and outvote all General Meeting decision which were not in his own favour.

Hopefully the owners were wise enough to challenge the GM decision in the court. The court expert found the incorrect data and all GM votes counting. The court ruled that the GM decisions were illegal due to incorrect voting rights calculations.

If you are owner in a complex, whether it is in Sea or Mountain resort, be sure to check whether the same scheme is not applied to your property. If you are a victim of the same rip-off, be sure to challenge the GM resolutions in the court. Remember that the challenge need to happen within 7 days, as from the moment the GM has been attended or 1 month if the GM was attended by the apartment owner.

Forging distribution of common areas in apartment complexes

We have been warning apartment owners that developers use incorrect calculation of common parts, in order to gain majority in the condominium General Meetings. Thus they set their own decisions about which will be the maintenance company and how much that maintenance company will be paid. It's out of question that they form their own maintenance companies and get the maintenance fees.

For the past year we have been fighting such developer in Bansko. He had built three apartment blocks and have used only the initial common areas calculations for selling the apartments and consequently defining how big is the voting right of each apartment owner. The problem was that the plans of the building were changed 2 times during the construction. This inevitably changes the distribution of the common areas percentage and the subsequent voting rights. However that was never written in the table of common areas. This enabled the developer to "blackmail" the rest of the owners and outvote all General Meeting decision which were not in his own favour.

Hopefully the owners were wise enough to challenge the GM decision in the court. The court expert found the incorrect data and all GM votes counting. The court ruled that the GM decisions were illegal due to incorrect voting rights calculations.

If you are owner in a complex, whether it is in Sea or Mountain resort, be sure to check whether the same scheme is not applied to your property. If you are a victim of the same rip-off, be sure to challenge the GM resolutions in the court. Remember that the challenge need to happen within 7 days, as from the moment the GM has been attended or 1 month if the GM was attended by the apartment owner.

Speeding tickets for less than 50 levs

If you drive across Bulgaria and you are stopped by the Traffic Police for speeding, you'll probably get a ticket for BGN 50 or less. There's a chance that the police office will tell you that "you cannot appeal the fine, because its a minor offence and minor offences couldn't be appealed before court." Well...not any more. Art. 189, para 13 from the Road Traffic Act has been declared as unconstitutional by the Constitution Court with Decision #1 on case # 10/2011. Traffic offence fines above BGN 10 can now be appealed.

Speeding tickets for less than 50 levs

If you drive across Bulgaria and you are stopped by the Traffic Police for speeding, you'll probably get a ticket for BGN 50 or less. There's a chance that the police office will tell you that "you cannot appeal the fine, because its a minor offence and minor offences couldn't be appealed before court." Well...not any more. Art. 189, para 13 from the Road Traffic Act has been declared as unconstitutional by the Constitution Court with Decision #1 on case # 10/2011. Traffic offence fines above BGN 10 can now be appealed.

Buying regulated land in Bulgaria 2012

Because of the speculations, I decided to write this small post. I will try to clear out whether an EU citizen can buy regulated land directly in Bulgaria as from January 2012.

A common misunderstanding is that foreigners cannot buy regulated land directly if they own primary home in their native country. This was valid until 2012, but not any more. The legal grounds are Art. 29a of the Ownership Act:

Entities in Art. 29 para 2, who do not reside permanently in Republic of Bulgaria, can acquire land for secondary home property after expiration of the term, set forth by the conditions of the Treaty for Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union
The above articles was introduced in 2007, the year when Bulgaria joined EU. As I have written last year the prohibition term was 5 years since Bulgaria's accession. As from January 2012, the prohibition term has expired, so pursuant Art. 29a Ownership Act, foreigners can buy regulated land directly, no matter if it is primary or secondary home property.

The speculation still exists, but I think this is supported by property agents who lose business. Just imagine how many companies will be liquidated and how many annual accounts and tax declaration will not have to be submitted. Property agents need to move on and stop spreading disinformation.

Buying regulated land in Bulgaria 2012

Because of the speculations, I decided to write this small post. I will try to clear out whether an EU citizen can buy regulated land directly in Bulgaria as from January 2012.

A common misunderstanding is that foreigners cannot buy regulated land directly if they own primary home in their native country. This was valid until 2012, but not any more. The legal grounds are Art. 29a of the Ownership Act:

Entities in Art. 29 para 2, who do not reside permanently in Republic of Bulgaria, can acquire land for secondary home property after expiration of the term, set forth by the conditions of the Treaty for Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union
The above articles was introduced in 2007, the year when Bulgaria joined EU. As I have written last year the prohibition term was 5 years since Bulgaria's accession. As from January 2012, the prohibition term has expired, so pursuant Art. 29a Ownership Act, foreigners can buy regulated land directly, no matter if it is primary or secondary home property.

The speculation still exists, but I think this is supported by property agents who lose business. Just imagine how many companies will be liquidated and how many annual accounts and tax declaration will not have to be submitted. Property agents need to move on and stop spreading disinformation.

Full text of the Condominium Management Act

Many people wanted to see the full text of the Condominium Management Act 2011 in English. This is particularly useful for all foreigners who have bought holiday apartments in Bansko, Pamporovo, Borovetz and the Black Sea resorts. The Act can be downloaded from here [PDF 178kb].

Full text of the Condominium Management Act

Many people wanted to see the full text of the Condominium Management Act 2011 in English. This is particularly useful for all foreigners who have bought holiday apartments in Bansko, Pamporovo, Borovetz and the Black Sea resorts. The Act can be downloaded from here [PDF 178kb].