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Accommodation in Tunisia

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Looking forward to buy property in Tunisia? Find all that you need to know on relating conditions and formalities in this article.

Since a few years, foreign nationals seem to be keener about buying property in Tunisia. Thanks to rather simple formalities and conditions, many expats have become owners in the country.

According to recent reports, the local real estate market accounted for some 3 million real estate properties including:

  • 59% of villas
  • 34% of houses with a balcony
  • 6.5% of flats.

In some countries, more nearly 80% of households owned their property. Note that Tunisian houses are far from what one could imagine. In fact, 99.6% of them have electricity while 86.5% have tap water.

Lease

You will probably start by renting accommodation upon moving to Tunisia. Feel free to start your housing search on the Internet. Several housing websites are available, but make sure to distinguish between holiday and long term rentals, depending on the length of your stay. Find more information in the useful links provided below.

You can also try your luck with housing ads in local newspapers and well as with local real estate agencies. Note that when seeking the help of a real estate agency, you will have to pay agency fees amounting to 5% of the yearly rent.

Once you have found the ideal housing unit, you will have to conclude a lease with the owner. These is no generic lease contract in Tunisia. Hence, the document will depend on what has been negotiated between you and the owner. Note that:

  • lease is concluded on a yearly basis
  • since a few years, rental taxes are the owner's responsibility
  • it is not recommended to give a departure notice to the owner before the end of the first year, otherwise you will have to continue to pay rent unless you find another lessee at the end of the notice
  • in general, the departure notice has a three month duration but can be negotiated with the owner before the signature of lease documents
  • the owner may end the lease contract by giving a three months notice to the lessee before the expiry of the lease contract
  • when the rent price is not mentioned in the lease contract, it is assumed that both parties have agreed to the the area's current rent prices
  • where taxes or rates apply, both parties are expected to comply with these.

As regards rent, the owner or real estate agency may request the lessee to pay rent either on a yearly basis, every semester or monthly. The guarantee, for its part, equals to two months rent and cannot exceed this amount in any case.

 Important:

Make sure to conduct an inventory on the spot before signing the lease documents, whether accompanied by the owner or a real estate agent. Feel free to take pictures of the premises and ask any questions.

Procedures

You will require:

  • three original copies of the lease contract
  • 5 certified photocopies of the lease
  • the legalization of your signature and that of the owner at the nearest municipality.

Note that 2 originals and the 5 certified copies have to be remitted to the Recette des Finances for authentication.

Fees applied vary according to the rent price. You will then have to go back to the Recette des Finances to fetch the same documents.

You are required to preserve your rent receipts as these may be requested by the administration upon your final departure from Tunisia.

Buying a property

According to latest figures, the average price of a real estate property in Tunis ranges between 1,200 and 3,000 Tunisian dinars per square meter.

If you would prefer posh neighborhoods such as El Menzah, Ennasr or Jadins de Carthage, prices range between 1,500 and 1,900 dinars per square meter. Outside the capital city, particularly in the Northern outskirts and in Soussse coastal area and Sfax, real estate prices have been rising since a few years.

In all cases, foreign nationals are allowed to buy property in Tunisia under the following conditions:

  • The chosen property is found in an urban or tourist zone (make sure to confirm that the property does not have agricultural purposes).
  • Make sure that the land has been registered with the competent Land Conservation so that it is linked to a land title. Note that all properties have to be registered in accordance with Tunisian laws.
  • Seek the assistance of an approved real estate professional so as to make sure that the transaction is legal. Beware of frauds!
  • The seller has to be officially identified as the owner of the property for sale.
  • The property must be exempt of retention of title in favor of the Tunisian State (due to eminent domain or nationalization under the law of 12 May 1964).

The foreign buyer has to obtain:

  • the authorization of the city or town governorship where the where the property is located. Note that this authorization may take some time. The request is to be made in the form of a file containing an original or certified copy and four photocopies of the following:
  • a duly filled printed application form in 5 copies
  • an observation made by a judicial officer specifying the property's conditions
  • an ownership certificate
  • the offer to purchase drafted in accordance with current regulations regarding legalization of signatures of contractors
  • the seller's tax clearance certificate (if he is a foreign national)
  • a municipal discharge justifying the municipal tax settlement
  • the buyer's and seller's identity documents
  • the buyer's criminal records (required by some governorships)
  • the building's location plan
  • a certificate from the municipality to justify the land designation of the land. In the case of bare land, a certificate proving that construction can be made on the said land may be requested. Some governorships may also request certification from the Regional Agricultural Development Office indicating the intended purpose
  • the land title
  • documents proving the origin of the seller (in the case of a foreign, prior purchase authorization must be provided)
  • the minutes of reattachment and building permits.
  • the approval of the Central Bank of Tunisia by:
  • opening a non-resident account in foreign currency or convertible dinars at the bank of his choice and in correspondence with his bank in his home country
  • import currency intended to pay the deposit and the purchase price
  • ask his bank to provide investment record stating that the funds are intended for the acquisition of real estate property. He is required to request this investment form (which will be essential in case of resale) from his bank within 48 hours following the transfer of funds. In case he could not obtain it within the prescribed delay, he will have to obtain a certificate from the bank showing these details.

 Good to know:

It is recommended to make payments by bank transfer so as to ensure the transparency and security of the transaction.

The deed of sale must be written by a lawyer and not by a notary which is generally the case in other countries.

Buying a property in Tunisia starts with the signing of a sales agreement and the payment of part of the total property value (10 to 15%). The balance is payable after receipt of the authorization of the governorship and the signing of the final act.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Accommodation in Tunisia Forum 
Expat.com – Housing in Tunisia 
Logement Tunisie www.logementtunisie.com
Central Bank of Tunisia www.bct.gov.tn
Yellow Pages – Real estate agencies www.pagesjaunes.com.tn

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