The real estate sector of Mauritius is governed by a system of ten regulatory Acts, one of which is the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction Act) 1975.
If you are not a Mauritian citizen and contemplating a real estate investment in Mauritius, the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act (for our purposes referred to as the “Act”), specifically addresses your rights. The Act has undergone several changes since it came into force in July 1975 but the structure and spirit of the Act however have both remained unchanged.
Who is a “non-citizen”?
A ‘non-citizen’ is:
- a natural person, i.e. a human being, who is not a citizen of Mauritius;
- a legal person, i.e. a company, trust, limited partnership or société where at least one shareholder, beneficiary, associate or member is a non-citizens. If the entity is listed on a Mauritian financial market and is effectively controlled and managed by a non-citizen, then that listed entity is a non-citizen.
What is understood by the term “Property”?
The term ‘Property’ captures immovable property, including leasehold and freehold, and residential and commercial. The distinction is important since the statute does not have the same treatment across.
Your property rights as a non-citizen
Section 3 of the Act details the rights of the non-citizen.
Since the year 2000, when the Investment Promotion Act came into force and the government mandated the Board of Investment (BOI) now the Economic Development Board (EDB), restrictions for non-citizens to purchase property in Mauritius have gradually been relaxed.
As per subsection 3, there are circumstances in which the non-citizen is not required to obtain an authorization (or certificate) to purchase property in Mauritius. They are as follows:
- Purchasing property if the non-citizen is the spouse of a Mauritian citizen under communal estate (recognised by the Civil Code in Mauritius);
- Inheritance of property in Mauritius;
- Taking ownership of property by the effect of marriage e.g. if the matrimonial regime by whatever means, effectively grants ownership of a property in Mauritius.
However authorization should be made to the relevant authorities in the following circumstances:
- Purchasing property under the Invest Hotel Scheme (IHS), Property Development Scheme (PDS), or Smart City Scheme (SCS). These schemes are all prescribed under the Investment Promotion Act. The PDS has replaced the Real Estate Scheme (RES) and Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS). However, existing RES and IRS projects are still eligible under this section;
- Purchasing an apartment in a building of at least 2 floors above ground floor at a minimum price of MUR 6 million (or the equivalent in any hard currency) as authorized by the EDB with the approval of the PMO. This excludes leasehold land (which is state land and reserved lands along the coastline) and projects under the Housing Estate Scheme destined for middle-income Mauritian households;
- Purchasing property for business purposes, as authorized by the EDB with the approval of the PMO.
Will a non-citizen be granted a residence permit following the purchase of property in Mauritius?
A non-citizen is entitled to apply for a Residence Permit following the acquisition of a property having a minimum price of USD 500,000 or its equivalent only if the purchase is made in either a RES, IRS, PDS or SCS.
What happens if you are in contravention of the Act?
If you purchase property in contravention of the Act, that purchase will be deemed void. The Curator of Vacant Estates will act under the directions of the Attorney General and according to the Curatelle Act to take possession of the property. The property will be considered as ‘seized property’ and sold as such – often at significant discounts.
What if a non-citizen only wishes to lease property?
A non-citizen may lease a residential property for a term not exceeding 4 years without requiring PMO’s approval.
For a commercial property, the lease term cannot exceed 20 years unless PMO’s approval is obtained.
You may find a copy of the Act on the following link:
THE NON-CITIZENS (PROPERTY RESTRICTION) ACT 1975
To be read with the latest amendment made in December 2016:
THE NON-CITIZENS (PROPERTY RESTRICTION) (AMENDMENT) ACT 2016