Measures to expedite real estate ownership requests
Saudi Arabia is undergoing unprecedented developments in all spheres of life.
In a bid to ensure a smooth socioeconomic transformation, authorities are going the extra mile to reform the Kingdom’s legal system. Several steps have been taken to increase the capacity of the judiciary to expedite the legal process and facilitate the public.
To take the burden off the judiciary, the scope of the Saudi Real Estate General Authority has been expanded with the formation of a committee to deal with matters related to real estate ownership.
The committee includes members from the interior, justice, finance, environment, water and agriculture, and municipal and rural affairs ministries.
Rules and regulations governing the body were recently issued, explaining its detailed mechanisms. A review committee, comprising three members, has also been formed to review the minutes issued by the main body.
It is important to understand the difference between an ownership request and a request to make amendments to an existing file or case.
The former is self-explanatory, while the latter deals with matters related to the completion of regulatory procedures and the update of data and documents required to acquire a final legal status.
There are specific conditions for accepting each application.
Under the new regulations, the status of a real estate property should not have been already decided by a court of law. The property should not be situated in areas in which ownership may not be acquired legally, such as within the boundaries of the Two Holy Mosques, other holy sites and buildings, coastal lands and fish farming projects, national borders and reserves precincts, lands of wild parks, wildlife reserves, mountain tops, grassland and forests, streams of valleys, torrents, reefs, floods, archaeological sites, areas containing hydrocarbon reserves, mining areas, energy and mineral areas, pathways and electricity stations, areas of water sources and public properties issued with sukuk and utility and public service areas.
One of the committee’s tasks is to study ownership requests and ensure that they do not violate existing laws.
Moreover, the committee, when needed, can ask an applicant to provide the necessary information to complete the consideration of an application to own a property. If the applicant fails to provide the required documents within 30 days, the committee will issue a reasoned decision regardless of the request. It should also inform the applicant.
The committee can also initiate an inquiry before considering the ownership request. The probe may include studying all relevant documents and the legal status of real estate. The committee may ask relevant authorities, including the judiciary, for more information or documents related to property before deciding the ownership request.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif