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Reply To: New Member – Advice needed on buying in a Complex?

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      • Practcally Cretan
      • ★★★★★★
      Member since: 1st January 2005

      Mrs C, Welcome to the forum.

      The first point to have in the back of your mind is that Crete is a huge island, extremely mountainous and regions on the island can be so diverse. By that I mean that the way things get done, expecially where government is concerned can vary enormously and how national laws are interpreted.  Luckily Crete has its own regional government. Under that umbrella administration there are however 4 prefectures.  So what happens in the west in Chania Prefecture may be quite different to how the same is applied in the East in Lassithi Prefecture. Speaking of property and all things related, this is one of the most complex areas to discuss. You may not be aware but until very recently, for instance 2019, Greece did not have a complete and unified land registration system.

      So when you asked about “I’m still trying to get an idea of communal fees, what that includes, landlord insurance and how bills (electric, water, wifi) are worked out on a complex?” you join the chorus of voices of those who have gone before to ask the same questions.  There may well be a government guideline on these matters, but then it is likely to be mainly understood by the professionals. The best bet could be to go to the project you have identified or similar, such as a gated community, and ask on the spot the very questions you posed.  Sounds basic, but if it is not in the sales brochure, it is just mind guessing.

      I realise this may seem just generic information, but having an adjusted mind set to Greek time will save a lot of unnecessary ‘aggro’. It is so important to leave behind how you know how things are in the UK  because Greece is so very different.

      My advice is simple, unless you have lived here any length of time, do not commit to a property straight off. Live in that area first for 6 months to a year. If you like it and it confirms your beliefs, then move forward and not before.

      The key for any Brits planning to come to live in Greece, now is the time to do it to get the benefits of still being a national of the EU for owning property in Crete. Until the end of the year that still applies. If you have a residence card (must be here 3 months before applying) then future long term residence will be easier than applying from scratch after December 31st.

      Let me re-iterate this important fact for Greek residence criteria

      To my understanding the Greek authorities are still working out the issuance of a new ID card earmarked for early 2021 for Brits. In this regard, to have a legal residence in Greece for British citizens as EU nationals, they should have been issued their first residence permit before December 31, 2020.

      Recently there have been examples of Brits trying to establish residence in Crete by applying now, and facing obstacles to prove that they have been staying in Greece for at least three months. By that I mean they may have been staying with friends or relatives and do not have the pre-requisite paperwork of proving say a rental agreement, utility bills, car rental agreements and so forth.

      The reason all these pointers are important is that from January 1st 2021, British passport holders will be classified and regarded and non-EU related nationals. The criteria for almost all important documentation in Greece and the other 27 States is vastly different to that which applies to people living outside the EU. After the upcoming January 1st, even our cousins across the Irish Sea will have a more favoured status in the EU that Brits. Of course, Ireland will still be a full EU member state. That is why.

      Make no mistake, you are either part of the EU club of nations, or not. Britain falls into the latter category after the transitional exiting period on DEC 31, 2020, along with Russians, Chinese, Australians, Canadians, etc. Buying a property from next year on for #Brits will not be so straight forward as now.  Also proof of health insurance, income level – if not employed in Greece will require more complex paperwork and documents issued by the UK government. Already the Greek Government is saying they will welcome all retired folks to live in Greece. For their pensions to be remitted to Greek banks the same government is talking about a 7% tax on receipt in Greece. A similar scheme works in other EU countries. I think Cyprus is one glaring example of an inbound remittence tax on money transfers.

      You also raised the point about retaining some UK benefits while having a permanent home in Greece. The watershed in that possibility is probably related to whether you are a retired person or not and whether you make your decisions before December 31, 2020 (final Brexit break from the EU). The Greek Tax system makes major changes every year. It is tightening regulations rather than easing. That is one side of the equation. While UK and Greece have a double taxation agreement, I would be mindful that the tightening is on both countries. Do you remmeber the Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) debacle? If that is a guide, the UK government is unlikely to treat offshore Brits (in this case in Greece) any better than they did when cancelling the WFA. These days, you are either in UK or not, to gain benefits

      If you coming to own property in Greece, there are important criteria to note:

      • to buy a property one must have a tax number (AFM)
      • to open a bank account to remit funds into the bank will ask for a tax number
      • and, a residence permit
      • and proof you can buy property here
      • private health insurance or the person has coverage from their own country (EHIC card is OK from UK). But the EHIC validity ends on December 31, 2020 as Britain exits the European Union.
      • check the tax complications of renting a property out before doing so. It is a case of short term rentals of 28days, versus long term rentals which come under different laws. In case you had not realised it, the tax year in Greece is January 1 – December 31. It never changes.

      Final suggestions:

      • Get a lawyer
      • Get an accountant
      • Talk to other established Brits in the Crete area you are focussing on and ask of them questions such as: Can benefits be had in UK if you move to Greece and become permanent for tax purposes in Greece.  I suspect that until Brexit is out of the way, nothign will be clear.
      • Contact the British Vice Consulate in Heraklion, they too can be very helpful.

      One thing for sure is the Cretans thdmselves want Brits who have settled down, or have holiday homes here, to stay. Those Brits have contributed a great deal to the local economy, and the Cretan local authorities appreciate it. Be somewhat re-assured post Brexit that there are many more Greeks residents in the UK, than Brits in Crete or Greece for that matter. The whole issue of getting squared away for legal Greek residence before year end is complex.

      Hope that was somewhat helpful.


      • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by admin.
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