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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Egypt

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Exploring property investment in Egypt can be a wise decision. Options include historic homes along the Nile, city apartments, and coastal properties for potential investors.

However, international buyers may find it challenging to navigate the Egyptian real estate market, particularly when verifying the authenticity and legality of the "Tabu," which serves as the official title deed in Egypt.

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

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

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 Tabu in Egypt?

The 'Tabu', also known as 'Taqwim Mulk', is a critical document in real estate transactions in Egypt.

It serves as the official title deed, verifying ownership of a property. This document is distinct from other property documents because it provides the most concrete and legally recognized proof of ownership.

When you hold a Tabu, it means the state acknowledges you as the legitimate owner of the property in question.

One of the key legal rights conferred by the Tabu is the right to transfer ownership. This means as the owner, you can sell, rent, or mortgage the property. It's a powerful document because it also protects you against unlawful claims or disputes over the property.

In terms of reliability, the Tabu is considered very strong. It's registered with the government and is a part of public records, which adds to its authenticity and trustworthiness.

However, it's important to know what the Tabu does not do. It doesn't automatically guarantee that the property is free from all encumbrances or legal issues.

For instance, there could be unpaid taxes or undisclosed easements that aren't immediately apparent from the Tabu itself. So, while it's a reliable document, it's always wise to conduct due diligence before purchasing a property.

Regarding resale and inheritance, the Tabu plays a crucial role. For resale, it simplifies the process since the ownership is clear and undisputed. It's particularly important for foreign investors, as it provides a level of security and certainty in a legal environment that might be unfamiliar.

In terms of inheritance, the Tabu allows for a smoother transition of property ownership.

When a property owner passes away, their rights as outlined in the Tabu can be legally transferred to their heirs, provided all other legal requirements of inheritance under Egyptian law are met.

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How to verify a title deed in Egypt?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of a 'Tabu' (Taqwim Mulk) in Egypt requires careful steps, mainly involving government bodies and legal professionals.

The key point of contact is the Egyptian Real Estate Publicity Department, also known as the Real Estate Registration Office. This is where official records of property ownership, including Tabus, are maintained.

To verify a Tabu, you should visit the local office in the area of the property and cross-reference the details on your document with their records. This step ensures that the Tabu you have is legitimate and matches the official records.

Involving lawyers who specialize in Egyptian real estate law can be extremely helpful. They know how to navigate the bureaucratic processes and can provide legal advice based on the findings of the verification process.

While notaries may play a role in authenticating signatures and ensuring documents are legally binding, they are less involved in the verification of the Tabu itself.

Real estate agents, on the other hand, are more focused on the buying and selling aspects and may not be as effective in verifying legal documents. They can, however, guide you towards reliable legal professionals.

When it comes to identifying red flags and avoiding scams, pay attention to the consistency of the information in the Tabu. Details like property size, location, and the owner's name should match with other documents and the property itself. The Tabu should also be up-to-date, reflecting the latest transactions or changes.

Official stamps and signatures are a must on the document; absence or alteration of these could be a warning sign. Don't just rely on the document provided by the seller; always cross-verify with the records at the Real Estate Publicity Department.

And perhaps most importantly, consult with a local real estate lawyer. They can spot irregularities that you might miss and provide essential legal guidance.

Remember, these steps significantly reduce risks but don't eliminate them entirely. Always approach real estate transactions with thorough due diligence, especially in a foreign country like Egypt.

What to check

Understanding the history of a property in Egypt, particularly through the 'Tabu' or 'Taqwim Mulk', is a crucial aspect of real estate transactions.

Accessing and tracing the property's history involves several steps. You start by visiting the Egyptian Real Estate Publicity Department, where all records of property transactions are stored. Here, you can request the historical records of the property in question.

These records will reveal past ownerships and transactions, providing insights into the property's legal and transactional background.

Knowing the property's history is important for several reasons. It helps you understand the chain of ownership, ensuring that there are no gaps or disputes in ownership history. It also reveals any patterns or issues that might affect the property's value, like recurring disputes or frequent changes in ownership.

To check for outstanding debts or liens against the property, you should again consult the Real Estate Publicity Department. They maintain records of any encumbrances or legal claims against properties.

Debts or liens are significant because, in many cases, they can be transferred to the new owner upon purchase. This means you could be held responsible for settling these debts, which can be a financial burden and legal complication.

Verifying the accuracy of the property's measurements and boundaries is another critical step. The Tabu will have this information, but you should cross-check it with physical surveys and local municipality records.

If there are discrepancies between what's on the Tabu and the actual measurements, resolving these issues might involve legal processes, negotiations with neighbors, or adjustments in property records. This can be time-consuming and may require the assistance of a lawyer or a surveyor.

Understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is also key. For this information, you'll need to visit the local municipal office or urban planning authority. They can provide detailed information on what the land can be used for, any building restrictions, and future development plans in the area.

This information is vital as it determines what you can and cannot do with the property, affecting its value and your plans for it.

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 Egypt, you might want to check it out.

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

After purchasing a property in Egypt, updating the title deed, known as 'Tabu' or 'Taqwim Mulk', is a crucial step.

The process begins with finalizing the sale and obtaining all necessary documents from the seller, including the original Tabu. Once you have these, you need to approach the Egyptian Real Estate Publicity Department or the local Real Estate Registration Office where the property is located.

Here, you'll submit the old Tabu, along with the sale contract and your identification documents. The office will then process these documents, register the property under your name, and issue a new Tabu.

This process may take some time and might involve paying a registration fee. It's advisable to have a local real estate lawyer assist you through this process to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to facilitate smoother proceedings.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, once you have verified the title deed and the property is officially yours, there are a few steps you can take. Property insurance is highly advisable to protect against risks like theft, natural disasters, or accidental damage.

In Egypt, it's also wise to consider title insurance, which can protect against any legal problems that might arise with the title in the future, such as disputes or claims that were not identified during the initial verification process.

For inheritance considerations, especially for foreign owners, understanding Egyptian inheritance laws is essential. In Egypt, inheritance laws are quite specific and can be different from those in other countries.

For instance, there are laws regarding compulsory heirs which might affect how you can bequeath the property. It's important to draft a will that is compliant with Egyptian law.

Additionally, consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in international estate planning to ensure your wishes are respected and the inheritance process for your property in Egypt is as smooth as possible for your heirs.

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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.