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Latvia: Immigration law amendments
26th May 2014
Latvian parliament adopted amendments to the Immigration Law in Latvia on May 8th, 2014. The amendments will come into force on September 1, 2014. Changes refer to the minimum thresholds of the property that qualifies for temporary residence permit.

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Land register in Latvia

Usually, the owner of a property cannot be determined just by looking at the property. Disputes related to movable property arise more seldom, and the value of movable property rarely is significantly large. The situation is different in case of immovable property. A person's rights to immovable property are a part of the constitutionally protected rights to the property, including also the rights to a home. The mechanism ensuring a person's rights to immovable property is an integral part of enforcing the democratic principles of Latvia. In Latvia, this mechanism is implemented through Land Registers.

The updated Land Register Law of 1937 came into force in April 1993. It recognises the mechanism of corroboration of immovable property or registration of the ownership rights in the Land Register. The system of corroboration or symbolic transfer requires for the legal basis of gaining the ownership rights to be in writing. Accordingly, the beneficiary of the rights is entitled to request from the person alienating the immovable property to carry out all actions necessary to register the transfer of immovable property in the Land Register.

Only the person, who is registered as the owner in the Land Register, can be recognised as such. Until registration in the Land Register, the person acquiring the immovable property has no rights against third parties: he or she may not use any of the advantages related to the property, and must deem all actions related to this property by the person registered as the owner in the Land Register as effective.

The registration procedure can be divided in the following stages:

  1. Preparation. During this stage, one or both parties to a transaction become aware and express the wish to conclude the relevant transaction involving the immovable property, and inquire into the possibilities to execute it.
  2. Signing a contract. The parties agree on a contract and sign it, as well as carry out other necessary actions to ensure that provisions of the contract comply with the existing laws and regulations, i.e., in order for the property to be registered in the Land Register.
  3. Pre-registration stage. All necessary documents to register the transaction in the Land Register are prepared or received during this stage.
  4. Registration (or relinquishing) of the ownership. This stage starts by submitting a registration request to the Land Register and is completed when the judge makes a decision.
  5. Final stage. The objective of the transaction is achieved completely, and the institutions specified in the relevant laws and regulations are notified of this fact.

If a new property has been created or the content of property has been modified as a result of the contract, the following additional stages are required:

  1. Specification of the objects of immovable property. During this stage new objects of immovable property are formed – units of land, structures, buildings, groups of premises, or changes to the existing objects are made.
  2. Formation of immovable property. According to the owner's suggestion a new property is formed from the existing or newly created objects of immovable property or the content of properties is rearranged.

Not only must each case of alienation of the property, but also each change of the owner be registered in the Land Register. Likewise, the information on property rights encumbering the real estate, for example, different protective zones, and rights of way, liens of any leases or mortgages is essential. It means that registration in the Land Register is mandatory, although no time limit for registration and no penalties in case of failure to register have been stipulated by the law.

A contract on alienation of immovable property does not create any property rights by itself; instead it establishes the right to request registration of this property in the Land Register. By not registering the ownership rights in the Land Register, the new owner assumes risk, because the person registered in the Land Register may alienate the property again, and the new buyer will be able to register him or herself as the bona fide purchaser. In this case, the first buyer looses the rights to the property and is entitled only to file claims against the seller.

The immovable property rights are registered in the Land Register, in which case the rights mean also the securities and restrictions of rights, if the content or the direct meaning of the law does not stipulate otherwise. The rights are registered based on a decision of a judge of the Land Register's department and are entered in the Land Register. A special file is created for each registered immovable property. Documents and notes related to the property registered in the division of the Land Register are collected in this file.
The immovable property bears responsibility for all rights registered in this division, except for cases, when the rights registered in this division apply only to the undivided share of the co-owner or if these rights encumber only a specific actual part of the immovable property.

Corroborations are recorded in a division of the Land Register in the form of entries (articles) and notations. Registration in the form of entries applies to the rights to an immovable property based on a legal transaction, a judgement or decision of the court or an act of an administrative institution, or which exists on the basis of the law itself. But the securities and restrictions of rights are registered as notations.

The state and office fees must be paid to register a property in the Land Register. The office fees usually do not exceed EUR 29; however, the state fee depends on the type of alienation, the kinship between the parties and the total sum of the contract or cadastral value.

Information about all immovable properties registered in the Land Register of the Republic of Latvia can be obtained from the State Unified Computerised Land Register. This is a paid service, and the price depends on the duration of use. The information issued by the State Unified Computerised Land Register is prepared and delivered to customers based on the data in the data base of distributable data. It means that customers can receive information on the decisions made and authorised by judges of the Land Register's departments, and also on corroborations which are not completed yet.

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