This content is from: Local Insights

Romania as Europe's granary

Adrian Roseti
Initiated in late November 2013 and adopted by the Romanian Parliament on December 17 2013 (to be published upon the President's confirmation), the law regarding the purchase of agricultural lands by non-Romanian EU citizens is setting the ground rules expected for the past seven years, since Romania's accession to EU.

Although the purchase of land by non-Romanians is not completely liberalised, the proceedings put in place are clear, swift and friendly for investors.

As per the new law, any purchase of land is subject to complying with two prerequisite conditions, namely: (i) agricultural lands located within built-up areas are not subject to purchase; and (ii) the natural persons who can buy lands may be Romanian citizens, EU citizens, citizens and stateless persons covered by the Agreement on the European Economic Area (ASEE), and stateless persons residing in Romania or the EU. Citizens of other states and stateless persons residing in another state may purchase such properties only based on reciprocity treaties.

Furthermore, in case the land is situated within 20km from the border, or 2.4km from any national security object, the purchase is conditioned on the approval of the relevant national security authority (to be issued in seven business days); on the same note, lands situated in areas belonging to the archeological patrimony can be purchased only with the endorsement of the Ministry of Culture.

Certain categories of potential purchasers enjoy a first refusal right to purchase the land for sale at equal price and conditions, in the following order:

  • joint-owners: natural persons;
  • neighbours: natural persons, lessees;
  • natural persons younger than 40 years involved in local agricultural activities; and,
  • the Romanian State.

The sale intention mentioning the price, and the particulars of the property (such as area, category and title) is published for 30 days and is also notified to the regulatory body created in this regard, namely the Authority for the Administration and Regulation of the Real Estate Market (AARPF), which publishes it on its website.

The purchase intention by any party enjoying the right of first refusal should be notified to the authorities within 30 days. Following the lapse of the 30-day period, the land is free to be purchased by any person, such status being duly notified by the relevant city hall to AARPF.

Any purchase of lands not observing the new regulation is subject to fines ranging from €12,000 ($16,000) to €25,000, and disregarding the first refusal right or national security legal provisions may trigger the cancellation of the purchase.

The new law effectively opens up Romania, Europe's so-called granary, for sale to non-Romanian Europeans, and has already drawn much interest from investors across Europe.

Adrian Roseti

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