The short answer is no; it is not legally required to hire a lawyer to complete a property purchase but we strongly recommend doing so. The lawyer will act on your behalf, check the deeds of the property and advise of any problems, protect your interest in the purchase contract, and follow the land registry registration process.
We are happy to provide a list of recommended lawyers or you can check the official website of the Chamber of lawyers in Montenegro.
Your lawyer is the one person that you appoint to act on your behalf so here’s a few pointers:
- You need to use a lawyer certified to practise law in Montenegro. All lawyers work in general practice with a wide remit and are not solicitors specialising in conveyancing.
- Use an independent lawyer to handle your property purchase. Find out who the seller is using so that you don’t use the same one. Be wary if the agent can only recommend one lawyer. If they can provide a choice, this can be more reliable.
- Another option is to try to get a recommendation from another buyer. Many lawyers have acted on behalf of other foreigners and can be more accustomed to the communication required by foreigners. Just being able to speak English is not necessarily enough.
- Ask the lawyer questions so that you are clear on what service they will provide. It is not the same in every country.
- Giving your lawyer power of attorney (POA) to sign contracts means that you do not need to be present. The signed POA must be ratified in the notary’s office. If you do not have time to do this, you can sign the POA in front of a public notary in your own country and send by courier to your lawyer in Montenegro.
- A POA to buy a property has usually been worded as such. It may also have an expiry date. When you come to sell the property, you will have to sign a new POA permitting your lawyer to sell the property on your behalf.
- Insist on a contract in a language you are fluent in, which should be translated by a court appointed translator. Expect to pay for this.
- Do keep a copy of the deeds, ownership list (List Nepokretnosti), contract and any other documents related to the property yourself. Check thoroughly that everything has been recorded correctly. It has been all too common for part of the plot such as a courtyard or driveway to have been omitted from the ownership list by mistake. It is far easier to rectify immediately after the event rather than when you come to sell it in years to come.