Laws & Regulations

OWNERSHIP

The ability to own property in Qatar has seen fundamental changes over the last number of years. Historically the ownership of property in Qatar has been restricted to Qatari nationals. However, this changed in 2006.

There are three types of ownership status in Qatar:

1. ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP

Ownership of property in Qatar has been restricted to Qatari Nationals, which also includes legal entities which are 100 % owned by Qatari Nationals, but there are two separate exceptions below.

2. LEASEHOLD RIGHTS

Leasehold Rights grant the beneficiary the right to use, to occupy and derive profit from a property belonging to another person. In Qatar a person is able to pass on these rights to their heirs and also to sell, transfer, lease or mortgage such a right.

In 2006 the Cabinet Decision No. 6 of 2006 created 18 areas within Qatar where non-Qataris are allowed to own property. These 18 areas include:

  • Al Dafna & Onaiza & Al Qitar
  • Al Khulaifat (north and south)
  • Al Mansoura & Bin Dirham
  • Al Rifa Al Hitmi
  • Al Sadd
  • Al Salata
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 22)
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 23)
  • Doha International Airport
  • Doha Jadeed
  • Frij Abdul Aziz
  • Ghanem Al Qadeem
  • Losail, Al Kharaij & Jebel Thiya
  • Musheireb
  • Najma
  • New Mirqab & Al Nasser
  • Rawdat Al Khail
  • Umm Ghuwailina

It is generally understood that these rights relate to residential property.

3. LEASE RIGHTS

Under Qatari Law a lease is defined as:

“A contract whereby the lessor binds himself to allowing the lessee the use of a determinate thing for a specified period in exchange for financial consideration.”

Leases in Qatar are governed by law No. 4 of 2008 (commonly referred to as the 2008 Lease Law) and Articles 582-669 of Law No. 22 of 2004, promulgating the Civil Code of Qatar (the Civil Code).

A lease may be granted for either the lifetime of the tenant up to a maximum period of 25 years. The lease is enforceable against the original landlord and also carries forward to any future owner of the property.

TITLE REGISTRATION

All transactions are required to be registered with the Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department at the Ministry of Justice. This register is not available for inspection by the general public. If a transaction is not registered with the department this constitutes a personal agreement between the two parties.

However, major developers in certain Designated Areas must keep their own registers for all transactions in the areas listed below and communicate with the Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department as to the ownership interests of the property.

DESIGNATED AREAS:

  • The Pearl
  • West Bay Lagoon
  • Al Khor Resort
  • Lusail
  • Fox Hills
  • Al Khuraj

LEASEHOLD RIGHTS

The Real Estate Registration Office for Non-Qataris, which is situated at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning in Doha, accepts the registration of the right of leasehold to Non-Qataris.

LEASE RIGHTS

A landlord is required to register a lease within 30 days of completion. Leases are registered at the lease registration office of The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Planning with regard to the 2008 Lease Law.

This is the responsibility of the landlord and failure to do this will not prevent a tenant from making a claim.

RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN OWNERSHIP

NON-QATARI NATIONALS AND 100% FOREIGN OWNED COMPANIES

Non-Qataris (including any company having any non-Qatari ownership) can only have Absolute Ownership in the following designated areas;

  • The Pearl
  • West Bay Lagoon
  • Al Khor Resort
  • Lusail
  • Fox Hills
  • Al Khuraj

However, all non-Qataris can hold Leasehold rights for a period of up to 99 years (renewable with the consent of the grantor or his heirs or successors in title) in the 18 designated investment areas. These areas are:

  • Al Dafna & Onaiza & Al Qitar
  • Al Khulaifat (north and south)
  • Al Mansoura & Bin Dirham
  • Al Rifa Al Hitmi
  • Al Sadd
  • Al Salata
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 22)
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 23)
  • Doha International Airport
  • Doha Jadeed
  • Frij Abdul Aziz
  • Ghanem Al Qadeem
  • Losail, Al Kharaij & Jebel Thiya
  • Musheireb
  • Najma
  • New Mirqab & Al Nasser
  • Rawdat Al Khail
  • Umm Ghuwailina

GCC NATIONALS

GCC Nationals can purchase property and are not restricted to the designated areas listed above however ownership is limited by the following conditions;

  • Not more than three properties may be owned, the area does not exceed 3,000 square meters
  • The properties may only be used by the GCC national for his or his family's residential purposes.
  • The properties may therefore not be purchased for investment purposes and leased.

In addition, GCC nationals and 100% GCC owned companies may own property without restriction for residential or commercial purposes in three designated areas managed by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company. These areas are Lusail, Fox Hills and Al Khuraj (in addition to the further designated areas below, where GCC nationals may also obtain absolute ownership).

TAXES

There are no property taxes in Qatar.

TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP FEES

The Transfer of Ownership fee is 0.25% of the property value payable by the purchaser. There is no registration fees payable by the vendor on transfer.

GRANT OR TRANSFER OF LEASEHOLD FEES

The grant or transfer of the right of leasehold s 1 % of the value of the price paid for the right and is paid by the grantee or transferee of the right.

GRANT OF LEASE RIGHTS FEE

The registration fee is payable annually by the landlord and calculated as 1% of the annual rent. There are penalties for late payment.

VISAS FOR INVESTORS

On 6 June, 2004, the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, issued Under Article 3 of Decree Number 17 which stated that for specific developments non-Qataris are entitled to apply for a residency visa upon the purchase of a property. It was envisaged that this visa includes dependent children and is valid while the individual owns the subject property. This visa does not grant working privileges, but it does allow residency.

We would advise all investors to personally investigate his/her own ability to obtain a visa with the appropriate Ministry.

REAL ESTATE LAW IN QATAR – RENTING PROPERTY

As this is a translation of an Arabic law, readers are recommended to do their own due diligence in regard to the law before making any decisions.

LEASE RIGHTS

Under Qatari Law a lease is defined as, “a contract whereby the lessor binds himself to allowing the lessee the use of a determinate thing for a specified period in exchange for financial consideration”

Leases in Qatar are governed by law No. 4 of 2008 (commonly referred to as the 2008 Lease Law) and Articles 582-669 of Law No. 22 of 2004, promulgating the Civil Code of Qatar (the Civil Code).

A lease may be granted for either the lifetime of the tenant up to a maximum period of 25 years. The lease is enforceable against the original landlord and also carries forward to any future owner of the property.

Although this is what the law allows, most leases for residential property in Qatar are between one and three years.

LAW NUMBER 4 OF 2008

Below is an extract of Law No 4 of 2008.

ARTICLE 2

The provisions of this law are applicable to places and parts made for residence purposes or any other commercial and industrial purposes. They are also applicable to furnished apartments leased for more than one month, regardless of whether the tenant is an individual or a legal entity.

The following properties are not subject to the provisions of this law:

  1. State properties (public and private).
  2. Agricultural lands.
  3. Plots of land.
  4. Lands used in support services, such as industrial ones.
  5. Tourist apartments, hotels, and units.
  6. Housing units given by the government or companies to staff.

ARTICLE 3

Leases subject to the provisions of this law have to be in a written form. With basic conditions written, these leases have to be registered at the Office.

Registration provisions will apply to existing contracts. Tenants have to take the necessary measures to register their leases within a year from the date of the application of this law. Tenants have to use all proofs to establish the terms of their lease contracts. Submissions will not be heard from tenants until they register their lease contracts at the Office.

ARTICLE 4

Landlords are obliged to give tenants the leased properties in proper condition in accordance with the rental contract. Tenants have the right to demand a cancellation of the contract or a reduction of the value of the monthly rent according to the decisions of the Committee.

ARTICLE 5

Landlords are obliged to maintain leased properties so that they can be fit for use. The tenants have to address the landlord in writing if there is a delay in appropriate maintenance.

Tenants can then get permission from the Committee to carry out this maintenance themselves and then cut the cost from the value of the monthly rent. They also have the right to demand annulling the lease contract or reducing the rent in case of any harm.

ARTICLE 6

Landlords have a right to maintain their properties even if tenants disapprove of this. If maintenance partially or totally breaches the terms of the lease contract, tenants have a right to demand the termination of these contracts or even a reduction in the value of the rent. They can also demand an extension of the contract for a period equal to the period of the maintenance.

Tenants cannot enjoy any of the aforementioned rights if they do not report to the Committee within 30 days after the end of maintenance works. They can retain these rights, however, if they give acceptable reasons to the Committee.

ARTICLE 7

The insurance landlords take from tenants must not in any way exceed the value of two months’ rent. The purpose of a lease is dependent on an agreement between landlords and tenants.

ARTICLE 8

Tenants have to use the leased properties in a manner as agreed with landlords. They are not allowed to make changes to such properties without written permission from landlords.

In case of tenant-induced changes to properties, landlords have the right to demand that the properties be returned to their former state. They have the right to compensation as well depending on the individual case.

ARTICLE 9

Tenants have to pay for their utilities. They have to pay the telephone bills as well as any other fee incurred during the lease period unless both tenants and landlords agree otherwise.

ARTICLE 10

Landlords do not have a right to a rent raise by force of this law without approval of the Minister.

ARTICLE 11

Tenants have to pay rent for the leased properties seven days at most after the date specified in the lease contract. They have to get a receipt showing proof of the payment.

ARTICLE 12

Current lease contracts are viable even for new owners.

ARTICLE 13

New landlords have to make themselves known to tenants via registered mail within 30 days of buying properties. They have to enclose a copy of their title deeds with the notification letter.

ARTICLE 14

Tenants cannot lease all or parts of rented properties to a third party without written permission from landlords.

LEASE REGISTRATION

A landlord is required to register a lease within 30 days of completion. Leases are registered at the lease registration office of The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Planning with regard to the 2008 Lease Law.

This is the responsibility of the landlord and failure to do this will not prevent a tenant from making a claim.

The registration fee is payable annually by the landlord and calculated as 1 % of the annual rent. There are penalties for late payment.

RENT CONTROL

Following some much publicised rent control issues in Qatar between mid 2000 to late 2008, however since then rents have either stabilized or even decreased.

In relation to residential property, the relevant rent freeze period which used to be in place has expired on 14 February 2010, as such there is currently no rent control provisions in situ for residential real estate.

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