The Invest-Hotel Scheme (IHS)

Almost without exception, the first thing a person thinks about when discussing residential property in Mauritius is a house on the beach.   But nearly all of the land touching the high water mark is owned by the government and leased to Mauritians on a 60 year basis.

IRS and RES schemes involve freehold ownership of land and improvements.  This therefore excludes them from building on leasehold land.  There are RES developments that have waterfront exposure (Anahita and La Balise for example) but these are because part of the free hold land touches water.   There is one RES that I know that found some beachfront land that is freehold.  It is in Tamarin, and is probably the most desirable property available on this basis.

For the majority of non citizens looking for property in Mauritius, RES and IRS may enjoy sea views or proximity, but the dream of having a boat at the bottom of the garden is just that.  A dream.

However…

The Invest-Hotel scheme is one way that foreigners can acquire title to the improvements that are built on leasehold land.

The way it works is as follows:

  • A developer (Mauritian or Foreign) acquires or plans to acquire leasehold or freehold property at least 1 Ha (10 000 square meters) in size and decides to put up a hotel on this site.  By the way, a hotel is roughly defined as something that provides accommodation with a food and beverage service.
  • Gets a letter of intent from the Tourism Authority
  • The developer submits application to the Board of Investment (BOI)
  • Presents the project to the BOI Technical Committee and organises a site visit
  • The developer receives a letter of approval from the BOI
  • Obtains permits and licenses from the relevant authorities (lots of work here)
  • Transfers land rights to the IHS Company
  • Forms a Syndicat des Copropriétaires (co-ownership syndicate or body corporate), provides a bank guarantee and submits other documents as per the BOI letter of approval.  This step is really important as it protects the buyer of the unit from losing his property if the hotel goes belly up.
  • Finally receives the IHS certificate from the BOI
  • Transfers the land rights to the Syndicat des Copropriétaires
  • Starts selling the units to citizens or non- citizens.  Off-plan is allowed.
Right, that’s the developers side of things.  Now let’s have a look at how to purchase a unit:
  • If purchased off-plan, payments will be phased according to a set formula.  As each stage is paid, those works become the property of the buyer as follows:
    • a. signing of the deed: 25%
    • b. completion of the foundation works:10%
    • c. completion of roofed-in phase: 35%
    • d. completion: 25%
    • e. availability of premises: 5%

This phased payment with transfer of ownership prevents unscrupulous developers from selling or pledging the property to third parties during that period, and it also means that if the developer folds, the improvements and rights to the land remain with the buyer.

Some other conditions:

  • Stand alone villas cannot be sold as one unit for less than $500 000
  • There is no minimum price on the sale of rooms.
  • No residence rights come with this deal
  • The owner can only stay in their unit for a maximum of 45 days in any 12 months.
So what the IHS scheme achieves where the IRS and RES do not, is that it gives an investor title to something possibly on the beach.  It also creates the opportunity for the investor to generate an income from this investment, and to participate in the tourism industry of Mauritius.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s