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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Lithuania

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Exploring property investment in Lithuania can be rewarding. Options include historic homes, modern apartments, and countryside estates with significant growth potential.

However, international buyers may find it challenging to navigate the Lithuanian real estate market, particularly when verifying the authenticity and legality of the "Nuosavybės teisės aktas," which serves as the official title deed in Lithuania.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Lithuania.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Lithuania.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Nuosavybės teisės aktas in Lithuania?

The Nuosavybės teisės aktas, or Property Rights Document, in Lithuania is a critical legal document in real estate transactions. This document essentially serves as the official proof of ownership of a property.

It's different from other property documents because it's not just a record of a transaction, like a sale agreement, but a formal declaration of ownership rights.

When you hold a Nuosavybės teisės aktas, it means you have the legal right to use, enjoy, and dispose of the property. This includes the right to sell it, rent it out, or leave it to someone in your will.

However, it's important to understand what it doesn't do. This document doesn't automatically clear all past debts or claims on the property. If there were any mortgages or liens on the property before you acquired it, those don't just vanish.

You need to ensure that these are cleared before or at the time of acquiring the property.

In terms of reliability, the Nuosavybės teisės aktas is generally a strong document in Lithuania, provided it is correctly issued and registered. The Lithuanian land registry is quite robust, and this document's registration there adds to its authenticity and legal weight.

For resale and inheritance, having a clear Nuosavybės teisės aktas makes the process smoother. It establishes your undisputed ownership, which is essential when you decide to sell.

For inheritance, it's the same principle. The document proves your ownership, making it easier to pass the property on to your heirs.

Foreign investors should pay particular attention to this document. While it gives you the same rights as a local owner, navigating the legal system and ensuring the property is free from previous encumbrances might require additional due diligence.

It's often advisable to seek local legal counsel to ensure everything is in order, especially considering any potential language barriers or differences in legal systems.

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How to verify a title deed in Lithuania?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of a 'Nuosavybės teisės aktas' or Property Rights Document in Lithuania involves several steps and key entities.

To start with, the primary source for verification is the Lithuanian land registry, known as the 'Nekilnojamojo Turto Registras'. This registry is a government-managed database that records all legal facts about properties, including ownership details.

By checking the document against the registry entries, you can confirm whether the information on the title deed matches the official records.

In terms of government bodies, the Centre of Registers is the go-to authority. They manage the land registry and can provide official information on any property in Lithuania.

You can request a property certificate ('Nekilnojamojo turto pažyma') from them, which will give you detailed information about the property, including its legal status and any encumbrances.

Notaries play a crucial role in real estate transactions in Lithuania. They are responsible for verifying the legality of documents and ensuring that the transaction complies with Lithuanian law.

If you're in the process of buying a property, involving a notary is a wise step as they can check the validity of the title deed and other related documents.

Lawyers are also invaluable in this process. A lawyer specializing in real estate can help navigate the complexities of Lithuanian property law, provide advice on due diligence, and assist in verifying the title deed. They can also represent your interests and ensure that all legal aspects of the transaction are in order.

Real estate agents can be helpful in guiding you through the buying process and may have experience in identifying authentic documents. However, their primary role is not legal verification. They are more involved in facilitating the transaction rather than confirming the legal status of documents.

To identify red flags and avoid common scams, be vigilant about all information on the title deed matches in the land registry. Any discrepancies in property details, owner's name, or legal descriptions are red flags.

Verify the identity of the property owner. Ensure that the person you are dealing with is the actual owner or legally authorized to act on behalf of the owner.

Remember, taking the time to thoroughly verify the authenticity of a 'Nuosavybės teisės aktas' can save you from potential legal and financial issues in the future.

It's always better to be cautious and seek professional advice when dealing with property transactions in a foreign country.

What to check

Accessing, tracing, and interpreting a property's history records in Lithuania, particularly when it comes to a 'Nuosavybės teisės aktas' or Property Rights Document, is a detailed process.

The history of ownership and transactions of a property is vital for several reasons. It helps you understand the property's background, ensures there are no legal disputes or unknown claims, and verifies the legitimacy of the ownership chain.

To trace a property's history, you'll primarily use the Lithuanian land registry, or 'Nekilnojamojo Turto Registras'. This registry contains records of all transactions, ownership changes, and legal statuses of properties in Lithuania.

By accessing these records, you can trace the property's ownership history and see any transactions or changes that have occurred over time.

Understanding past ownerships and transactions is important because it can reveal potential issues. For example, frequent changes in ownership might indicate problems with the property or disputes. It also ensures that the property's ownership chain is clear, which is crucial for establishing legal ownership.

To check for outstanding debts or liens, you'll need to look at the encumbrance section in the land registry. Debts or liens against a property, such as mortgages, legal disputes, or unpaid taxes, can be transferred to the new owner.

This means if you purchase a property with such encumbrances, you could become responsible for them.

Regarding the property's measurements and boundaries, the title deed should contain a detailed description.

However, to verify this information, you can compare the details on the title deed with the physical survey of the property, which can be conducted by a licensed surveyor. This survey will confirm the actual measurements and boundaries of the property.

If there are discrepancies between the title deed and the physical survey, these need to be resolved legally. This might involve legal proceedings or negotiations with neighbors or previous owners to correct any errors or encroachments.

Finally, understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is crucial. This information can usually be obtained from local municipal offices or the planning department.

Zoning laws dictate what the property can be used for, while land use restrictions might limit certain types of development or changes to the property.

Knowing these restrictions is vital as it affects what you can and cannot do with the property.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Lithuania, you might want to check it out.

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How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Lithuania?

After purchasing a property in Lithuania, updating the title deed, known as the 'Nuosavybės teisės aktas', is a crucial step.

This process officially records you as the new owner of the property. First, the sale must be finalized and legally binding, which typically involves signing a sales agreement and ensuring all financial transactions are complete.

Once the sale is finalized, the next step is to register the change of ownership. This is done at the Centre of Registers, which is the official body managing the land registry in Lithuania.

You will need to submit the signed sales agreement, along with identification documents and any other relevant paperwork that the Centre of Registers requires. They will then update the registry, reflecting you as the new owner, and issue a new title deed in your name.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, once the title deed is verified and the property is yours, it's advisable to consider several types of insurance.

Property insurance is essential to protect your new asset from damage due to unforeseen events like fires, natural disasters, or vandalism. Liability insurance is also recommended to cover any accidents or injuries that might occur on the property.

If the property is part of a multi-unit building, check if there are communal insurance policies in place and what they cover.

For foreign owners, understanding Lithuania's inheritance laws is important. In Lithuania, inheritance is governed by statutory laws, which means that certain family members are automatically entitled to a portion of your estate unless specified otherwise in a legally binding will.

If you want to ensure that your property in Lithuania is inherited according to your wishes, especially if they differ from the statutory laws, it's crucial to have a legally valid will. This will should comply with both Lithuanian law and the laws of your home country, to avoid any legal complications.

Remember, property ownership in a foreign country always comes with additional complexities. It's wise to consult with legal professionals who are well-versed in Lithuanian real estate and inheritance law to ensure that all your bases are covered.

This ensures not only peace of mind but also the security of your investment.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.