Mauritius real estate market has seen an increasing number of foreigners during the last decade who have acquired immovable property. The government of Mauritius implemented various schemes through which such properties can be acquired and the necessary legislative framework to regulate such activity by providing that any such acquisition requires the prior approval of the relevant authorities.
On 29 April 2021, the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) (Amendment) Act 2021 (the “Amendment Act”) came into force, amending, and widening the ambit of, the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act 1975 (the “Act”) to ensure greater accountability and oversight in respect of non-citizens of Mauritius acquiring, holding and disposing of property (as defined in the Act) in Mauritius.
The Act provides that a non-citizen who wishes to hold, dispose of, purchase or otherwise acquire a property shall obtain prior authorisation from the Prime Minister’s Office (“PMO”).
Before the Amendment Act:
The term “non-citizen” in the Act was defined as (a) a person who is not a citizen of Mauritius, (b) an association or body of persons, whether corporate or incorporate (which is not domiciled in Mauritius or quoted on a regulated market in Mauritius and having its control or management vested in one or more persons who are not citizens of Mauritius or not quoted on a regulated market in Mauritius and having at least one shareholder who is a non-citizen) and (c) a trust (whose beneficiary includes a non-citizen). Such definition thus covered individuals, as well as all types of entities, legal or otherwise (such as the trust) that can be established in Mauritius, with the exception of the foundation.
After the Amendment Act:
The definition of “non-citizen”, now includes any foundation whose founder, beneficial owner, ultimate beneficial owner or beneficiary is a non-citizen. Consequently, such foundation shall not hold, dispose of, purchase or otherwise acquire property without prior authorisation from the PMO.
The Amendment Act has broadened the ambit of the Act by also providing that a disposal of property by a non-citizen (whether to a citizen or a non-citizen of Mauritius) requires the prior approval of the PMO. The definition of the term “dispose of” includes the burdening of a property with a mortgage or charge.
The Amendment Act also makes amendments to the Foundations Act 2012 where a foundation is described as an entity, through which property is endowed by a founder for a purpose, charitable or otherwise, for the benefit of a person or class of persons and whereby such property may be distributed to a beneficiary in accordance with the provisions of its charter.