Owners: Rules for acquisition of realty by foreigners must be tightened in Estonia

  • 2022-03-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – In the opinion of the Estonian Owners Association, the restrictions on the acquisition of immovable property by third-country nationals in Estonia are too lenient and should be subjected to a review.

Priidu Parna, the chairman of the association, noted that the restrictions on the acquisition of land were liberalized in Estonia when the country joined the EU in 2004. In Estonia, substantive restrictions on the acquisition of real estate apply only to parcels of agricultural and forest land larger than 10 hectares, as well as to land on small islands and in the territory of local authorities situated next to the Estonian-Russian border. There are no restrictions at all on the acquisition of apartment ownerships.

According to Parna, land is a limited resource and each country consists of a territory. Private property creates the foundation of a democratic state, and the owners are always ready to stand up for their state and property.

"In 1940, the Soviet authorities banned specifically private property and nationalized all assets. Today, we need to take a closer look at who we allow to own Estonian land, so that we will not be surprised like the Finns who discovered directed investments by a neighboring country near their military bases or, as London has become, according to punsters, Londongrad," Parna said.

For citizens of countries outside the European Economic Area and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, restrictions currently apply only on the purchase of agricultural and forest land, but it is not prohibited to establish a company in Estonia and acquire almost any real estate through it, Parna said.

In the opinion of the Owners Association, Estonia should extend restrictions on the buying up of Estonian land to nationals of third countries that are hostile to us, including to Estonian companies whose beneficial owners are citizens of these countries.

"Of course, every Estonian can also decide to whom they sell their property, so that it is in good hands. When we sell forest or land, our aim is to get the deal done. At the same time, we want to live in a country where we can feel safe and protected," Parna added.

He said it is appropriate to think proactively at the present moment about how we should organize our state and with whom we want to share our land.

"We do not want citizens of hostile countries in our country to sow confusion or engage in hostile activities here," the chairman of the Estonian Owners Association emphasized.