Buying Property in Pakistan: A Legal Guide for Overseas Pakistanis and Foreigners

This Guide seeks to enable Local and Overseas Pakistanis, as well as Foreigners wishing to invest/buy property in Pakistan.Our top legal team will be more than happy to give you legal opinion or help you carry out due diligence for any property you wish to purchase in Pakistan.Our due diligence and legal opinion fees are reasonable and affordable and can help you avoid any fraudulent sellers.

While this brief is a guide to the purchase of real estate within Pakistan it does not take a legal stance and all guidelines herein should be undertaken under the guidance of your lawyer or attorney. It must be mentioned that as per our experience in Pakistan, as a well-known Legal500 Law Firm, we have seen that many Overseas Pakistanis, have suffered badly in past by being cheated on relating to property issues. This has been contributed to several factors but not getting the best legal advice or trying to save money by cutting corners and scrimping on the legalities are major players contributing to such losses.

The following are very basic guidelines for Overseas Pakistanis to look at before even considering purchasing a property.

Avoid any company, which claims to come and visit your country of work or residency. While they sell this at a surplus the money will start racking up before you have even looked at the particulars of a property. You will be much better off dealing directly via electronic means with a company in the area where you want to buy.

Don’t even consider those shiny property sales/housing society Ads, which are advertised on  the TV and Facebook every other day or so. The cost of those ads is added onto the price of the properties, which are likely to be substandard at best, and also likely to go into litigation later due to lack of permits or clearance by the government,

In short, any Overseas Pakistani or Foreigner  intending to pay any attention to the new, glamorous housing society advertisements, should be wary that these commercials have been purpose built to relieve overseas buyers of their hard earned cash. Getting tangled up with these builders and societies and their shenanigans can be a nightmare for those who live in Pakistan, never mind those who live overseas or are foreigners. Our Advice: Please stick to an established property with a titular history for a good price in a good area. Those ads on telly are the perfect time to put the kettle on, and honestly that’s all they are good for! if you have been approached by any such marketers, please contact a lawyer to conduct proper due diligence of these properties and so-called societies.

 

PURCHASING FROM THE OWNER

While this is the advised avenue to take for an Overseas Pakistani or Foreigner buying a property in Pakistan it is far from perfect unless you take the precautionary measures that apply to residents. Do your homework thoroughly as mentioned right at the very beginning of this brief. Only by going back through the history thoroughly do you know that you are buying a property that the vendor is actually entitled to sell.

If you don’t intend to travel to Pakistan to take care of the sale ensure that you give power of attorney to somebody you trust and not a company who claims to be working on your behalf. Selling a house that is essentially a blank file to numerous people at the same time is one of the best-known scams in Pakistani real estate. Do not be the next person to fall for this con. You should place two adverts in prominent newspapers stating your intention to buy whichever property has caught your eye. One should be in English and the other Urdu. This is effectively a public notice stating your intention of XXX property from XXX vendor and letting everyone know that if they have any claim, objection, attachment, lien, interest etc. they must inform either you, the concerned authority or your lawyer within 7 days. This can save you from many a headache down the line should the vendor have also promised the property to somebody else.

Even if the house you intend purchasing belongs to a friend or relative always protect yourself by inviting the public objections we have mentioned above. Never think that because you are buying from somebody you know, and probably trust, that there is guaranteed to be nothing awry.

The Importance of Power of Attorney

It is not whether or not you should authorize power of attorney that is at question here, rather than who you give it to. It is amazing how often that good friend can turn into a wolf when there is money involved. A major issue is that in Pakistan there are so many ready made, one size fits all power of attorney texts that people seem to think applies to all scenarios and cover their backs; they don’t. Granted, there are certain items, which need to be included in there by law, but on the whole every power of attorney should be unique and relevant to the reason why you are giving it in the first place. Do not sign anything until the text and its contents have been fully checked over by your lawyer. At Josh & Mak International we have the experience and expertise to oversee this entire process to ensure you have the cover and protection you need. Our clients are always our number one priority and our international standing among overseas Pakistanis is second to none.

The Services We Offer

These services apply to all clients, whether you live in Pakistan or not, as well as Foreign Nationals. Whether you are looking to purchase a property or own one that is standing empty, not being looked after properly or is currently occupied by an unsavoury tenant give us a call today to see how we can help you.

  • We leave no stone unturned to find the very best tenants for your property. This includes ads in leading newspapers and on reputable websites, liaising with local agents etc. to ensure your property is occupied by the calibre of tenant you would choose for yourself.
  • We carry out the reference and background checks including their record relating to previous rentals
  • The preparation of all legal documents pertaining to both purchases and rentals
  • The issuing of eviction notices to tenants should they be needed and the filing of court petitions for evictions
  • Taking on the full responsibilities should you choose us as your power of attorney allowing you to rest easy knowing that we will always be working both for you and with you
  • The transfer, sale or purchase of properties in Pakistan
  • The recovery of properties in terms of possession
  • Pursuing property litigation within Pakistan where the title and occupancy comes into dispute.

 

The safest way to purchase or sell a property in Pakistan

In an ideal world everyone would engage the services of a lawyer in order to buy or sell property. However, way too many Pakistanis try to save themselves money by doing direct deals without getting all the necessary background checks done. Invariably, they will find themselves caught up in legal complications and instances of fraud further down the line, which will cost them so much more in the long run to put right. The ONLY way to buy or sell property in Pakistan, which allows you to sleep easy at night, is to do so via a lawyer. Trying to save money by avoiding this step is asking for trouble and could see you end up being both out of pocket and without a property.

The Josh and Mak Team routinely advises its  clientele on the sale, purchase or rental of all residential, commercial and agricultural properties. We will take care of the entire verification process as well as the registration of all title documents, the procurement of ‘Farad’ revenue documents and sort out the Intiqal in the revenues records.

On the other side of the coin we will also initiate fast legal proceedings against those offenders who take part in the illegal possession of property, land grabbing and the transfer of property which has taken place by fraudulent means.

Pakistani Real Estate Laws

The following overview explains the processes and procedures of Pakistan real estate including Gift, leasing, mortgages, taxation on gains from selling Pakistan properties, real estate taxation and the setting up of real estate trusts in the country. These notes are for general guidance only and do not claim to be legally binding. Only by signing a contract with a lawyer do you cover yourself from all eventualities.

The sales of real estate within Pakistan will usually take place using the title document called a Sales Deed. The only exception to this is such cases as the purchase of real estate in DHA, Defence Housing Authority, or within a housing society, which doesn’t execute a sales deed for transferring a real estate title. Many people often, prior to the execution of a sales deed, choose to execute the agreement to sell. However, these agreements do not transfer the title of a property in favour of a vendee, instead they create a right in the favour of the vendee should the vendor refuse to honour the conditions and terms contained within that agreement and allow them to seek a special enforcement of the sale agreement. The title on an immovable property will only be transferred once the title document or sales deed has been executed. The sales deed will be affixed with the requisite stamp duty and must also be registered with the relevant authority. After the sales deed has been registered the mutation of the sale must be entered into the relevant register, which is maintained and kept by the Patwari.

Leasing/Renting out of Real Estate in Pakistan

Point of view of the landlord: Landlords must ensure that a lease on an immovable property is fully executed in writing. Should the rental period of the immovable property be less than one year no compulsory registration is required. Registration is a must for any rental periods of over one year.Should the tenant refuse to pay the rent, or break any of the stipulated terms of the tenancy, the landlord is within their rights to terminate the lease. If that tenant refuses to leave the property the landlord can file an eviction petition with the relevant authority.

Point of View of the Tenant: The tenant must make sure that they always make prompt rent payments via the method agreed in the tenancy agreement and receive a receipt from the landlord. Should the tenant unjustifiably or unlawfully attempt to evict a tenant that tenant can file a petition as well as availing several other legal remedies his lawyer will advise upon.

Pakistani Real Estate ‘Gifts’/Gifts in Muhammadan Law : Special Laws that Apply 

Any real estate gift in Pakistan has to be made in writing. However, the exception to this general rule is a Muhammaden gift, which is the oral gift of a property. Even though this is a legally accepted act oral gifts are not recommended, as they are almost impossible to prove if the other party denies it. Where a written gift deed has been executed it must be registered and affixed with the relevant stamp duty.

In the case of a Muhammaden oral gift, this will take effect if all three of these conditions have been satisfied;

  • The Declaration of the gift
  • Acceptance of the gift by the recipient during the givers lifetime
  • The giver transfers legal possession of the property to the recipient

When these have all been satisfied the fact of gift is deemed to have been established.Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Real Estate Mortgages in Pakistan Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Legal Mortgages Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

A legal mortgage pertaining to an immovable property can be created once the mortgage deed has been executed. The mortgage deed must be affixed with the appropriate stamp duty as well as being registered with the sub-registrar. Need more guidance ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Equitable Mortgages Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Equitable mortgages pertaining to immovable properties are created by the depositing such original title documents with the mortgagor as sales deeds, allotment letters etc. As registration is not a requirement the general practice is to have a lien marked in relation to the mortgage.Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Real Estate Taxes in Pakistan Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

The taxation on gains made from Pakistani real estate

There is no legislation included in the constitution relating to capital gains taxation from the federal government’s purview. The laws relating to income ta have been harmonised with these provisions by excluding immovable properties from the very definition of capital assets, the gains of which are liable to taxation.

However, a profit on certain transactions concerning immovable property is liable to taxation under the laws of income tax. These include the disposal of a property that has been acquired as stock within a trade and the intent to make a commercial profit. However, such gains realised on the disposal of an immovable property which has been transferred due to gift, family inheritance, being bereft of any commercial motives of if the property is held as a capital asset of a business are all exempt.

Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Capital Valued Tax on Pakistan Transactions Related To Real Estate Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Capital value tax stands at 2% of the recorded value, which has been levied in the Finance Act of 2006. This applies to urban areas where residential properties exceed one kanal in area and to commercial properties where no thresholds exist relating to the property’s size or the area of land it stands on. When the property’s value has not been recorded however, the capital valued tax is payable at the rate of Rs. 50 per square yard. All transfers who fall under the scope of gift, purchase, surrender, exchange, power of attorney or relinquishing of rights are subject to capital value tax. However, those transactions that take place between grandparents, parent, siblings and spouses through inheritance and gift are excluded from the purview.

Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922 

Establishing Real Estate Investment Trusts in Pakistan

Real estate investment trusts are relatively recent concepts within Pakistan and were introduced as incentives for investing in Pakistani real estate. Any income from such a trust is exempt from tax as long as nothing less that 90% of its profits is distributed among the holders of the units.

Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

FAQ’s Relating to Pakistani Real Estate

We have brought together all the most frequently asked questions relating to real estate in Pakistan to condense this piece and make it easier to understand.Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

 What is an Aks-Shajra?

Aks-Shajra is the image of a specific piece of land or specific khasra number from the plan or map of a village or estate and is used to define boundaries.

What is Fard Malkiat?

 Fard Malkiat also referred to as a Record of Rights, Jama Bandi, Misal Haquiat and Register Haqdaran-e-Zameen and is maintained for the recording of determining the various types of rights which exist an immovable property.

What is a Mutation (Intiqal)?

The mutation is the document which contains an order from a revenue officer who must possess at least a grade III Assistant Collector qualification, and deals with records of rights that are to be changed, altered or mutated within the revenue records.

What is meant by the Tattima Registry?

Tattima simple means “supplementary” and therefore the Tattima Registry is the name given to the supplementary sale deed in a specified area.

 

What is a Khasra?

A Khasra is a piece of land that has both a specific number and measurements

What is Khasra Garrdwari?

Kharsa Gardwari is a register which is maintained for records of cultivation/possession.

What a Survey?

 

A survey is a map or drawing which shows a property’s precise legal boundaries, the location of any improvements, rights of way, encroachments, easements and any other physical features of the property.

Is a mutation a title document?

No.

What is the name of the document that creates the title in an immovable property?

The Register Sale Deed, Registry /Baye-Nama, is the document, that creates a title in an immovable property.

 

What is meant by a Sale Deed or Conveyance Deed?

A Sale Deed or Conveyance Deed is the deed document used to convey a property’s titles from the seller to the buyer. This deed document helps you to ascertain whether or not the property you are buying stands on land that belongs to a society, builder, development authority etc.

Where do I get the title deeds or documents for my house?

These can be obtained from the department or office via which the title of the property was transferred or conferred.

 

Which laws will generally deal with Pakistani real estate?

There are many laws dealing with Pakistani real estate including The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, Land Revenue Act, 1967, Stamp Act, 1899 and Registration Act, 1908. Your lawyer will advise on all the laws relating to real estate in Pakistan.

What safety precautions should I undertake before I buy a property or any other kind of real estate in Pakistan?

Before you buy any kind of property in Pakistan a thorough investigation should take place into the title of the seller of that real estate. The general practice is to do a probe into not only the current seller but also any previous owners dating back to a period of around 20 years. The original title document that favours the vendor must be obtained as well as the other relevant documents such as a mutation in favour of the vendor, a new Fard, the aks shajra and either a non-encumbrance certificate or no-objection certificate whichever is relevant to the property in question. If the vendor is selling a property in their capacity as the owners lawyers you must ensure that the power of attorney has been duly registered with the sub-registrar. Anyone found to be holding a fabricated or forged power of attorney will not be able to transfer the valid title of any immovable property to any third party.

The property I want to buy is registered in the name of a company, what documents should I be inspecting?

Before purchasing any property which is registered to a company you need to verify with the Registrar of Companies at the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan that this property is not currently mortgaged nor is it being used as security against any loan. If it is either of this it cannot be considered to be a hold property. Additionally, you should check the memorandum of association to make sure who is authorised to act on the company’s behalf when it comes to selling that property. If a resolution is required the same must be both passed and verified and you should also inspect the original title documents in possession of the selling company.

 

Can residential properties be used as office space by corporate bodies?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

While it is illegal to run a commercial business from a residential property certain service based industries can operate out of residential areas.

Can a foreigner buy a property in Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Yes. Following the completion of the legal formalities foreigners are allowed to by property within Pakistan.

What are the inheritance laws which apply in Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

The Pakistani inheritance laws are dependent on religious affinities. For example, Muslims have their own personal laws as do other religions.Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Does the transfer of every immovable property need to be registered in Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Transfers of immovable property’s with a value of Rs 100/- and up can only be made with a registered sales deed.

Can overseas Pakistanis buy property in the country without visiting?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Yes they can.

What documents are required to legally own a property?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Those deeds with verify the transfer in your favour such as sales deeds, allotment letters and sale certificates.

How do I actually own a property in Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

You become the owner of a property by purchasing it from a private person, builder, by allotment or purchasing it from a public development authority. Another way to become a property owner is to become a member of a co-operative housing society.

What is a Power of Attorney in Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

A Power of Attorney in Pakistan effectively gives an agent the power to execute deeds and acts for, and on behalf of the principal who is the only person who can hand this power over to a third party. You can also give somebody the power or attorney to appear before an authority, tribunal or court on your behalf as well as to buy, sell or maintain real estate. If the power of attorney is given relating to several acts within a number of transactions it is called the General Power of Attorney, which must be registered. If, however, it is given for only one particular act with one transaction it is a Special Power of Attorney and does not need to be registered.

Can the person who hold power of attorney transfer property in their own name? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

No they cannot. Whoever holds power of attorney is bound by a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests and carry out whatever duties you would do for yourself if you could. Third parties will assume they are acting on your behalf and you need to make sure they are doing this to the best of their ability.

 

I’ve changed my mind, can I now revoke my power of attorney?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Yes you can.

On what grounds would a power of attorney be cancelled? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Automatic cancellation occurs if the executor dies or if the party holding the power cancels it.

So my Power of Attorney won’t be effective after my death?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

No it ends when you die.

I want to buy an apartment in a block that is still under construction, what papers do I need to check? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Check the approved plans of the building and the number of floors to ensure that the floor you want to buy has been approved. Also check if the land on which the building is being constructed belongs to the builder or if a legal agreement is in place with the owner. If the latter is the case check the land ownership title. Also make sure that the building bylaws for that area is being adhered to and that the building is from any violations from front or side setbacks, height etc. Scrutinise the specification within the agreement to sell to ensure they are same as those listed in the sales brochure. If the builder on one of the companies incorporated within the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan you should check that this company is permitted to deal with the sale and purchase of Pakistani real estate.

Can I sell my immovable property be sold while it is still in mortgage?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

No, you cannot sell immovable property, which are mortgaged.

 

What are the important documents I should check before I buy a property?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Check the approved layout plans, the approved building plans, the ownership documents, all the deeds of title which related to property you want to buy, examine all the deeds, ascertain a survey number, check for any previous loans and encumbrances secured on the property, request that the seller obtains, if necessary, sanction, consent permission, no objection certificates from relevant authorities, bills, tax receipts, measures of land etc. etc.

 

 

What is stamp duty and is the buyer or the seller liable for it? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Stamp duty is a tax/fee, which the government levies on the transfer of a property and it must be paid on time and in full. Stamp paid documents are considered to be true and legal documents. Unless an agreement has been made to the contrary the responsibility of paying stamp duty falls on the shoulders of the buyer.

Why is an approved building plan necessary and why do I need one? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Raising any construction without having the building plans approved is a direct violation of the Building Control Authority’s rules and can lead to the construction having to be demolished. It is therefore common sense that before the first brick is laid you has the full and mandatory construction approval in place.

Who maintains land records In Pakistan?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

The land records in Pakistan land records are maintained and kept by the districts administration revenue department who decided the boundaries and the ownership of property or land within its area.

I co-own a property, can I sell it? Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Yes and no as you can only sell your share in that property and if no specific boundaries have been set you will need the consent of your co-owners.

Is a sale deed drafted by a Wasiqa Nawees/Arzi Nawees reliable?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

No. Sales deeds have to be drafted by lawyers who have knowledge of the relevant laws pertaining to the transfer of a property.

What are 3 essentials steps of Gift?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

 The offer by the owner/donor 2. Acceptance by the recipient (to whom the gift is being offered) 3. Delivery of the possession.

Can a gift be revoked?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Yes, a gift can be revoked with the exception of one that has been made in favour of a person who falls into a prohibited category such as one who is married to somebody who’s whereabouts are unknown.

What distinguishes a gift from an inheritance?Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Gift are always made during the lifetime of the donor and become effective from the moment it is completed where inheritance only takes place following the death of the donor. Another distinguishing feature is when an owner of a property makes a gift to it to one legal heir but as an inheritance it would have to be divided between all heirs.

Can a foreigner purchase property in Pakistan? There are quite a few considerations involved as discussed below.Need more information ? Contact us now +92-51-8442922

Due to its estimated shortfall of 270,000 units in housing construction, the real estate market in Pakistan would appear ripe for foreign investors. All is not as it seems however as the problems which face the Pakistan property sector include very low yields on rentals, complex tenancy laws, the absence of title on many properties and high taxes. Since 2006 Pakistan’s SECP, Securities & Exchange Commission, has been considering adopting a regulatory framework relating to real estate investment trusts.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has gone public with their draft recommendations for this framework and have embarked on what they describe as a consultative exercise with the property sector but as of now no year/ target date has been set for the introduction of REIT. Furthermore, these draft recommendations shed no light on such matter as foreign and non-residents holding REIT, nor the repatriation of any dividends.

According to SECP’s own ‘Promoters Guide’ foreign corporations are allowed to take a controlling interest in the infrastructure and in investments in industrial zones but the investment regulations for construction and housing demand that the title of a property be lodged with a local, incorporated company. Whether or not this entity is allowed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of a company, which is incorporated overseas in, not made clear. The Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad Company registration office will provide advice on such incorporation for all foreign owned entities.

An alternative, and increasingly popular way to invest in real estate in Pakistan is by buying shares in a reputable company who are developing residential areas near to Islamabad and other main cities. Although foreigners who work and live in Pakistan are allowed to rent or buy properties the government requires them to undertake certain legal formalities with both the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and the board of investment. Foreigners who intend to buy or rent a property in Pakistan are required to submit certain documents for approval to the Ministry of Interior in order to documents in order to get an NOC from the ministry of interior, including the ID information.

Afghan nationals are not currently being allowed to purchase property in Pakistan due to security concerns. There are also problems for certain other nationalities in getting clearance from the Ministry of Interior. In our experience UAE and US/UK nationals find it easier to get clearance from the Ministry of Interior in Pakistan.

If you need more information in this regard, please call +92-300-5075993

Disclaimer; please bear in mind that the information included in this article is   for information purposes only and should be read as legal advice. Contact Josh & Mak International now for comprehensive help and legal advice relating to any aspect of real estate in Pakistan

 

 

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