DEALING WITH PROPERTIES IN BULGARIA
This Part assumes that the Bulgarian property is one that is owned by a British person as these are thought to be the circumstances in which it is most likely that the official receiver will encounter a Bulgarian property.
If the official receiver encounters a Bulgarian property owned by a Bulgarian national, he/she may seek the advice of Technical Section.
Under Bulgarian property law, only Bulgarian nationals and entities can acquire title to land, non-residents may acquire only buildings and limited rights (e.g. leasehold and construction rights). Where a foreign (non-Bulgarian) national wishes to purchase land, they would normally set up a Bulgarian registered company to do so (see paragraph 43.7.5). As a result it is unlikely that any bankrupt will actually ’own’ property in Bulgaria and, instead, the official receiver will find him/herself dealing with the bankrupt’s interest in the property -owning limited company. Paragraphs 31.5.64 to 31.5.69 give advice on the valuation of shares in private limited companies.
This may mean that a bankrupt could initially fail to disclose property in which he/she has an interest as they do not legally own the land on which the property is situated.
43.7.4 Changes to property ownership laws in Bulgaria
Following Bulgaria's accession to the European Union on 1 January 2007, an amendment to the Bulgarian Constitution has come in to effect, which envisages that foreign national citizens of member states of the EU (non-Bulgarian nationals) will be entitled to buy property in Bulgaria as one of the EU’s tenets is that property and land ownership must be open to all citizens of the EU. However, the amendment also includes a special provision that this will be further regulated by an Act of Parliament. It appears that such an Act is unlikely to come into force until 2014.
Companies in Bulgaria are registered with the Registration Agency. Currently, there appears to be no English language search facility for the Agency, but this is in development (http://www.registryagency.bg/?p=873). Where the official receiver needs to establish whether a bankrupt has an interest (or the extent of an interest) in a Bulgarian company, he/she should engage local representation (see paragraph 43.7.7).
When a property is owned by a limited company in Bulgaria, the title deed is usually held by the solicitor's office holding the file of the company. Details of this solicitor may be obtained from the bankrupt and the official receiver, as trustee, should have the solicitor note his/her interest in the shares of the company. In addition, it will probably be necessary for the official receiver to apply for the normal three year period in which to deal with the property to be extended, where the property is family home (see Chapter 31.3, Part 3).
43.7.7 Useful contacts
www.bulgarianpropertyreg.com - For information on property values in Bulgaria
www.buyinbulgaria.com - For information on property values in Bulgaria
www.bulgarianproperties.com - For information on property in Bulgaria
New Balkans Law Office (Kamen Shoylev)
Tel : +33 207193 4427
Fax : +44 87 0758 7919
Elhovo Ltd - Franchisee of Bulgarian Properties
Address : 1 Targovska Street
Tel/Fax : +359 478 88339
Mobile : +359 8991 34082
Bulgarian Properties Ltd
Address : 19 Yakubitsa Street
Tel : +359 2 868 11 88
Fax: +359 2 868 11 05
Bulgarian Properties (UK) Ltd - Franchisee of Bulgarian Properties (based in London)
Tel : 020 8905 5001
http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/choosingandusing/findasolicitor.law - to find local legal representation (to, for example, conduct a company search).