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Market spotlight

Trends and prospects

What are the current trends in and future prospects for the real estate market (both commercial and residential) in your jurisdiction?

The real estate market continues to maintain a strong position fuelled by low interest rates. Sweden has been described as a safe haven for investments in real estate. During 2016, the real estate transaction market was historically strong and reached a new record level in terms of investment turnover, with an indicated level of more than Skr200 billion.

The forecast for 2017 is positive. However, some experts have indicated that the market will probably slow down and that the yield compression is likely to stop. There has been (and still is) a strong urbanisation trend in Sweden. As a result, the primary focus of both commercial and residential real estate investors is the larger Swedish cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. Due to low yields in the larger cities, real estate investments have also been made in medium to large cities in the search of better yields. The price of privately owned houses remained stable during 2016, unlike previous years in which it increased. Some experts have noted that the Swedish housing market is at risk of a housing bubble. Outside the primary markets, investment in residential seems to have increased to new levels. Another significant trend in recent years has been investments in development projects; the market for real estate development has attracted increased interest.

On March 31 2017 a parliamentary investigation into the tax regime for the real estate market will present its conclusions and propose an amended tax regime for that market. Real estate market investors expect the tax regime to be changed, but there is uncertainty as to the extent and content of such change and when it will be implemented. The ongoing investigation has also created some uncertainty in the market, and it is near impossible to assess the possible effects of the changes.

Rights and registration

Rights

What types of holding right over real estate are acknowledged by law in your jurisdiction?

Under Swedish law, the ownership of real estate carries with it the right to occupy and dispose of the property. However, the owner’s right to use the property freely is restricted. For instance, the right to develop land is limited by planning and building legislation. The usual types of holding right over real estate are as follows.

Site leaseholds In Sweden, it is common for the real estate owner to grant a site leasehold right in the property. A site leasehold right may be granted only on publicly owned land. The site leaseholder essentially has the same legal status as an owner of the property. For example, the site leaseholder has the exclusive right to use and occupy the property. The main difference compared to (freehold) ownership is that the owner of the site leasehold right has no right to transfer the ownership of the property, only the leasehold right. The leaseholder has the right to transfer the site leasehold right freely to any person or entity.

A site leasehold right is generally granted for a long period against an annual fee, normally calculated as a percentage of the land value. The agreement between the parties (the landowner and the holder of the leasehold right) can be terminated only by the landowner, but not until a 60-year period has expired. For commercial properties, a shorter period may be agreed between the parties.

The landowner is barred from discontinuing the agreement unless it has a strong reason for termination. In practice, such strong reasons are similar to grounds for expropriation. In case of termination, the landowner has an obligation to compensate the leaseholder, also on grounds similar to expropriation, for the value of the site leasehold at the termination of the lease, including the value of buildings and anything else owned by the leaseholder and placed on the leased land. The valuation will be made on the assumption that the site leasehold will remain with the existing buildings and existing use.

Land leaseholds Land leaseholds are lease agreements for the use of land and can be entered into for different purposes (eg, residential and agricultural) and different rules apply depending on the use of land. All land leaseholds give the holder an exclusive right to use the land for a period of time against payment of rent to the land owner. Leaseholders may also have a right of first refusal if the land owner wishes to sell the property. With the exception of residential properties, the rent is normally based on the prevailing market terms (under freedom of contract).

Leases are lease agreements for the use of buildings (both commercial and residential). Chapter 12 of the Land Code governs both commercial and residential lease agreements. Some of its provisions apply only in relation to residential or commercial lease agreements, but several provisions apply to lease agreements in general. To some extent there is freedom of contract, in particular for commercial leases, where the rent is based on the prevailing market terms when a lease agreement is entered into. Lessees are provided with security of tenancy, which means that lease agreement can be terminated only if the landlord has cause for such termination. Commercial leases may be terminated without cause, but this will result in the landlord being obliged to compensate the tenant for all damages.

Easements A right that is necessary for the use of a property may be secured by an easement. An easement gives the right for the dominant estate (in this case, the real estate which has the benefit of the easement) to use the servient estate (the real estate on or through which the easement is used) for certain purposes (eg, to construct and maintain a cable or use an existing road on the property). The easement must be established for a permanent purpose.

One advantage of an easement compared to other rights of use is that an easement can, and usually does, have a perpetual term.

Are rights to land and buildings on the land legally separable?

The rights to land and buildings are legally separable. For instance, buildings on non-freehold land will be regarded as movable assets (and not as real estate assets as such). The ownership of such buildings is partly governed by legislation other than the Swedish Land Code.

Which parties may hold and exercise rights over real estate? Are there restrictions on foreign ownership of property?

Swedish law imposes no restrictions on foreign investment in Swedish real estate, except in relation to agricultural and forestry estates, where general restrictions apply. Despite this, most foreign investors in Swedish real estate make their investments through Swedish limited liability companies. 

How are rights, encumbrances and other interests over real estate prioritised?

The priority is determined on the basis of the date of registration at the Land Registry.

Registration

Must real estate rights, interests and transactions be registered in your jurisdiction? What are the legal effects of registration?

The ownership of land and the holding of site leasehold rights must be registered in the Land Register, which includes information regarding ownership, mortgages, site leaseholds and easement agreements. The Land Register is maintained by the National Land Survey Authority. When a real estate or a site leasehold right is transferred, an application for registration must be sent to the National Land Survey Authority within three months of the date of completion of the transfer. If the application is not submitted on time, the National Land Survey Authority may issue an order and a fine. The registration has no legal effect between the seller and the buyer in relation to the registration itself – that is, the transfer will not be invalid if the registration is not done within a certain time.

Usufructs may also be registered, although registration has no legal effect as to the validity of the agreement between the parties. The registration of rights is mainly done to procure and maintain the right against a new owner of the real estate in certain circumstances. Lease agreements are not usually registered.

What are the procedural and documentary requirements for entry into the national real estate register(s)? Can registration be completed electronically?

An application for entry to the Land Register is made in writing. The application must include a copy of either the contract or the bill of sale. Registration cannot be made electronically, but an investigation is ongoing as to whether this should be allowed in the near future.

What information is recorded in the national real estate register(s) and to what extent is such information publicly available?

The Land Register contains information about all real estate in Sweden. The register includes information on:

  • ownership and boundaries for all real estate;
  • mortgages;
  • tax assessments;
  • easements (and other registered rights of use);
  • ongoing matters at the National Land Survey Authority involving the relevant property; and
  • the purchase price of the latest transfer of the property.

This information is publicly available.

Is there a state guarantee of title?

Swedish law protects a buyer that relied on the information in the Land Register in good faith and, based on that information, acquired real estate. The purpose of this principle is to make the Land Register reliable and trustworthy, and thus to promote and simplify business. Some conditions must be met before a buyer will be granted title assurance. The buyer must act in good faith and the seller must be registered in the Land Register as the holder of the title to the real estate. The effect of these rules is that the rightful owner loses its title and instead will be reimbursed by the state for the loss (except in certain specific cases, such as forgery or duress).

Sale and purchase

Brokerage

How are real estate brokers regulated in your jurisdiction (eg, through caps on commission or disclosure obligations)?

Real estate brokers are regulated by the Estate Agent Act. All brokers must be licensed and registered. The Estate Agent Act states that a person acting as a estate agent must perform the service for which the broker has been engaged with due care and in accordance with sound estate agency practice. A broker is obliged to act in the interests of both the buyer and the seller. However, there are no mandatory limitations or caps on commission. The broker has certain disclosure obligations to the extent that if a broker suspects that there is essential information regarding the real estate status and condition which may be important to the buyer, the broker must disclose that suspicion or essential information to the buyer. Commercial real estate transactions are usually carried out through the sale of shares in a property holding company. The Estate Agent Act does not apply in relation to these transactions.

Due diligence

What due diligence should be conducted before conclusion of a real estate sale contract?

It is normal practice to engage advisers for different areas of due diligence in order to conduct the necessary inspections and examinations. In commercial real estate transactions the seller usually provides a data room containing the relevant information and information which the seller deems to be important to a buyer. The following types of due diligence should be carried out:

  • Technical due diligence – this is an essential part of the due diligence and should contain an in-depth inspection of the status of the real estate and buildings.
  • Legal due diligence – this usually includes a review of:
    • all information provided in the Land Register;
    • all lease agreements (and other holding rights);
    • environmental status;
    • disputes (ongoing disputes); and
    • tax matters.

If the sale is carried out by means of a share transfer (which, at present, is the most common transaction form in Sweden for real estate), the company will also be included in the review.

  • Financial or commercial due diligence – this varies according to the type of real estate being transferred. In commercial real estate transactions this would usually include at least a review of the rent roll and other financial data of the real estate asset. 

Preliminary agreements

Are any preliminary agreements typically entered into before conclusion of a sale contract?

In Sweden, before entering into any negotiations, the parties usually conclude a letter of intent or similar agreement to give the prospective buyer exclusivity in order to conduct the due diligence review and negotiate the terms of the sale contract. The main aim of this preliminary agreement is to set out:

  • the exclusivity period;
  • confidentiality undertakings; and
  • the key commercial elements of the intended transaction.

Sometimes parties are happy to enter only into separate non-disclosure agreements. However, preliminary agreements are non-binding in terms of including binding obligations to sell or buy.

Contracts

Must sale contracts be concluded in writing? If so, must they be notarised?

Sale contracts must be concluded in writing but not notarised. A sale contract must also fulfil the following formal requirements in order to be valid and binding:

  • identification of the parties;
  • identification of the property being transferred;
  • a clear statement of the sellers’ intention to sell the property;
  • the purchase price or information about how the price is to be calculated; and
  • signatures by both parties.

These formal requirements apply only to direct transfers of real estate. In Sweden, the majority of all commercial real estate transfers are indirect by means of the transfer of shares in property holding limited liability companies. A sale and purchase agreement of shares is primarily governed by the Sale of Goods Act, pursuant to which there are no formal requirements. 

Can sale contracts be concluded electronically?

Since the formal requirement for a valid and binding sale contract is that it must be in writing and signed by both parties, it is not possible to conclude a transfer electronically.

What provisions are usually included in a sale contract?

A sale contract commonly includes the following sections (in addition to the provisions containing the definition of the purchase price and the mechanics related thereto):

  • representations and warranties made by the seller;
  • conditions precedent (board approvals or similar);
  • undertakings for the seller to carry out certain actions before completion; and
  • the risk transfer date, insurance obligations, confidentiality undertakings and dispute resolution clauses.

Obligations and liabilities

What are the seller’s disclosure obligations and other liabilities, and what are the consequences of breach?

The seller has no disclosure obligation and the main obligation of the seller is to hand over the real estate on completion. The seller’s only disclosure obligation is specific: if the seller is aware of information which would affect the buyer’s decision to buy the real estate, it must disclose that information. If the information is not disclosed, the seller will be liable to pay damages and the buyer may also be entitled to terminate the sale contract. In Sweden, the main principle is that the buyer has a duty to examine and investigate the real estate before a purchase. Any deficiencies or faults discovered or which ought to have been discovered during the examination or investigation cannot be invoked by the buyer as breach of contract. As a main rule, the seller’s liability is limited to deficiencies or faults not discovered and which could not be discovered by the buyer, assuming that the buyer has carried out an investigation with reasonable skill and care. In the sale contract, the seller usually limits its liability only to representations and warranties explicitly given in the contract, and such limitations are allowed according to Swedish law and normal practice. 

What contractual warranties are usually given by the seller?

The normal contractual warranties given by the seller include: warranties with respect to:

  • the title, encumbrances, liens and mortgages;
  • the tax assessment value of the real estate;
  • the environmental condition of the property;
  • the validity of the holding rights (leases);
  • the rent roll (cash flow); and
  • compliance, disputes, building permits, mandatory technical inspections and insurance.

Further warranties may be required depending on the outcome of the buyer’s due diligence. The seller’s liability for the warranties is normally limited in time – more than two years is unusual, except for warranties on title, which are valid for 10 years.

Are there any other obligations on the buyer, aside from paying the purchase price?

Apart from paying the purchase price and submitting an application to the Land Register within three months, the buyer is under no obligations. However, the sale contract may include further obligations or liabilities such as the buyer giving warranties for the necessary financing arrangements being in place and other similar representations. 

Taxes

What taxes are payable on the sale and purchase of real estate? Are any exemptions available?

The transfer of real estate gives rise to stamp duty, which is usually paid by the buyer. However, the seller is liable to pay the stamp duty if the buyer fails to. Stamp duty is based on the higher of the purchase price or the tax assessment value of the real estate. If the buyer is a legal entity, the stamp duty is 4.25%.

If the seller is a legal entity, it is liable to pay 22% tax on any capital gains. The tax is higher for natural persons.

No stamp duty or capital gains tax is payable (with certain exceptions) on the sale of shares in a limited liability company that owns real estate. For this and other reasons, real estate transfers are most often carried out by means of share transfers. Value added tax is not applicable in relation to a sale or purchase of shares or real estate.

Transfer of title

When does title in the property transfer?

Title passes to the buyer when the parties have entered a valid and binding contract. 

Timeframe

What is the typical duration of a sale transaction?

A normal commercial transaction takes one to three months.

Leases

Contracts

Must a lease agreement be concluded in writing?

There is no formal requirement for lease agreements for premises to be in writing. An oral lease agreement is valid under the Land Code. However, leasehold agreements must be in writing. The answers below apply only to commercial leases, not residential leases or leaseholds.

Are there any regulations setting out mandatory or prohibited provisions in lease agreements?

The Land Code contains several mandatory provisions which may not be altered in lease agreements. Alternatively, if the provisions of the agreement violate the code’s mandatory rules, such provisions will be considered invalid. For instance:

  • minimum periods apply to termination of leases (if the lease term is longer than nine months, the notice period must be at least nine months);
  • the Land Code specifies which breaches of contract allow the landlord to terminate the lease;
  • a waiver of the tenant’s security of tenancy must be in writing (and in general, must be approved by the rent tribunal); and
  • the rent payable must be clearly defined in the lease agreement.

What provisions are typically included in lease agreements?

Typical provisions in a Swedish lease agreement include:

  • the extent and condition of the premises;
  • the permitted use of the premises;
  • the duration of the lease and any extension provisions; and
  • clear definitions of the rent payable.

Further, a lease agreement normally includes provisions regarding payment of the operating expenses, and the parties’ responsibility in relation to:

  • maintenance;
  • repair; and
  • renovation, assignment and subletting.

Different types of premises entail different types of typical provision.

What are the standard forms of lease agreement used in your jurisdiction?

The most frequently used standard forms are prepared by the Swedish Property Federation, and the use of the standard forms is considered as market practice. Since the Land Code contains provisions which govern the contractual relationship between a tenant and the landlord, the standard forms are fairly short. However, the special provisions for commercial lease agreements may be extensive (eg, shopping centre lease agreements).

Length of term

Are there any regulations on minimum and maximum terms of leases?

There is no minimum term for a lease (except for certain types of leasehold agreement). The maximum term is 25 years if the premises are located within an area subject to a zoning plan. If there is no zoning plan, the maximum term is 50 years. Commercial lease agreements usually have a lease term of between three and 10 years, depending on the type of premises.

Are long-term tenants accorded any special rights as to extension or renewal of leases?

This is always subject to commercial negotiations between the parties. It is not uncommon for long-term tenants to have contractual special rights regarding the extension or renewal of leases.

Rent

What regulations (if any) govern rent increases?

Rent increases are allowed to the extent that increases during the duration of the leases are clear and specified and included in the lease agreement. Other grounds for calculating the rent increase (eg, an increase in line with the Consumer Price Index) are permitted if the lease term is at least three years. If rent increases are not included in the lease agreement, the only option for the landlord to increase the rent is to terminate the lease at the end of the lease term and demand an increased rent.

What regulations (if any) govern rent security deposits?

No mandatory provisions govern rent security deposits.

Can the tenant withhold rent payments on any legal grounds?

The tenant can withhold rent payments on the basis of a breach of contract and the tenant is entitled to damages. Further, the tenant is entitled to withhold rent payment if there are deficiencies in the premises which affect the tenant’s use of the premises. A tenant is also entitled to withhold rent payment based on having a counterclaim against the landlord.

Sub-letting

Under what circumstances is sub-letting typically allowed?

The tenant may not sub-let the premises without the landlord’s consent or approval from the Rent Tribunal. Partial subletting of the premises is generally allowed without the consent from the landlord provided that it is not detrimental to the landlord. As subletting is not usually allowed, the tenant normally includes provisions which specifically allow subletting.

Obligations and liabilities

What are the general obligations and liabilities of the landlord in respect of the property and what are the consequences of breach?

Unless otherwise agreed, the landlord must carry out and pay for necessary maintenance, reparations and other measures in order to maintain the premises fit for purpose. The primary consequence of the failure to fulfil these obligations is rent reduction and damages (provided that the landlord has been negligent). If the breach has a material effect on the use of the premises for the intended purpose, the tenant may be entitled to terminate the lease agreement immediately. The tenant is also entitled to remedy any breaches and claim reimbursement from the landlord.

What are the general obligations and liabilities of the tenant in respect of the property and what are the consequences of breach?

Unless otherwise agreed, the tenant’s main obligations are to pay the rent and a duty of care of the premises. The landlord may be entitled, if the breach is material, to terminate the lease agreement immediately. 

Taxes

Are any taxes payable on rental income? If so, are any exemptions available?

The seller is liable to pay 22% tax on profits, if it is a legal entity. If the premises are used for business which is subject to value added tax (VAT), VAT is usually added to the rent. No stamp duty or similar taxes are payable. 

Insurance

Are the landlord and tenant bound by any insurance requirements?

No mandatory insurance requirements are imposed by law. However, it is commonly agreed in lease agreements that the landlord is responsible for having and maintaining insurance covering the real estate, while the tenant is responsible for having and maintaining insurance covering the leased premises and its business.

Termination and eviction

What rules and procedures govern termination of the lease by the landlord and the tenant’s eviction from the property?

The Land Code specifies which breaches of contract allow the landlord to terminate the lease. The tenant may terminate the lease if a breach of contract has a material effect on the use of the premises for the intended purpose. If the tenant does not leave the premises voluntarily, the landlord must apply for an eviction order with the Enforcement Authority. If the reasons for termination and eviction are disputed by the tenant, the matter must be referred to the courts. 

Finance

Finance providers

What are the typical providers of real estate financing in your jurisdiction? Are there any restrictions on who may provide financing?

The four major banks in Sweden are the main providers of real estate financing. Larger investors on the real estate market increasingly mix bank finance with bonds or the issue of shares.

Financing business is a regulated activity in Sweden and is subject to authorisation by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (SFSA). A ‘financing business’ means a business which includes commercial operations which:

  • accept repayable funds from the general public; and
  • grant loans, provide guarantees for loans or, for financing purposes, acquire claims or grant rights of use in personal property (ie, leasing).

Provided that a lender does not accept deposits from the general public, it will probably not be considered a financing business and therefore will not be subject to regulatory requirements corresponding to such business. Under certain circumstances, natural or legal persons must register with the SFSA if they are carrying out so-called ‘other financial operations’ in Sweden. ‘Other financial operations’ means, among other things, granting loans (eg, in the form of loans secured by real property mortgage). One consequence of being registered is that the entity must adhere to Swedish money laundry regulations. However, this registration requirement applies only to legal persons incorporated or acting from a branch in Sweden.

Financing structures

What are the most common structures used to secure real estate financing and how are these security interests perfected?

Financing of real estate acquisitions is generally obtained by term loan acquisition facilities agreements and secured by mortgages in the real estate. Such security is perfected by the pledgor by handing over of the mortgage certificate (or, if the mortgage certificate is in electronic form, by a transfer of the mortgage certificate to the lender in the digital system governed by the Land Register). Lenders always require equity to be contributed by the buyer, most common between 20% and 50%. Acquisition of a larger real estate or real estate portfolio may also be financed by an issue of shares or bonds.

What covenants are typically made in financing agreements?

Common covenants included in financing agreements are:

  • loan-to-value;
  • debt-service ratios;
  • net debt to adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA); and
  • adjusted EBITDA to financial net payable and capital expenditure.

Enforcement of security

How are security interests enforced in the event of default?

A secured party initiates the enforcement process of mortgage certificates by obtaining an enforcement order from the Enforcement Authority or a Swedish court. On obtaining an order against a pledgor, the secured party is entitled to apply to the Enforcement Authority for enforcement of its claim and the sale of the mortgaged real estate. A sale of real estate by the Enforcement Authority is usually conducted by public auctions held in the district in which the real estate is located. It is also possible for the Enforcement Authority to sell a property using other means (eg, through a real property agent) if they are considered more expedient and provided that it is clear what mortgages and other encumbrances there are on the real property.

What is the typical timeframe for the enforcement of security?

Usually, the sale of mortgaged property should be completed within four months (when the order has been obtained from the court or the Enforcement Authority). However, this time limit may be extended to six or seven months if the relevant sale so requires (eg, depending on the value, location, size and the number of properties).

Investment

Investment climate

What is the general climate of real estate investment in your jurisdiction?

The climate for real estate investments in Sweden is generally considered to be good. The market is highly competitive and transparent, and the price levels have increased at an even rate since the financial crisis of 2008. The year 2016 saw new record levels of real estate transactions.

Investors

Who are the most common investors in real estate?

At present, the largest investors in real estate are well-established real estate companies with a long history of investing in real estate, together with pension funds (both private and buffer funds within the Swedish pension system). Recent years have seen an increasing interest from small and mid-sized private investors. Foreign investors have also returned to the market (eg, Blackstone).

Are there any restrictions on foreign investment in real estate?

No, there are no restrictions on foreign investment in real estate.

Investment structures

What structures are typically used to invest in real estate and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each (including tax implications)?

Real estate transactions in Sweden are usually carried out as share transactions. This is mainly because a corporate seller can realise a tax-exempt capital gain on the sale of shares, whereas a gain on a direct sale of real estate is subject to corporate tax. The corporate tax rate is 22%. In addition, in contrast to a direct sale of real estate, there is no stamp duty on a share transaction, which is its main advantage. However, the results of an ongoing investigation are due on March 31 2017 which may lead to altered tax rules on investment structures.

Planning and environmental issues

Planning

Which government authorities regulate planning and zoning for real estate development and use in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?

The municipalities are responsible for planning and zoning, and have exclusive power in this regard.

What are the eligibility, procedural and documentary requirements to obtain planning permission?

Planning permission is obtained from the municipality through a written application. This application generally includes maps and drawings of the premises and the construction, water and sewerage planning, as well as the appointment of a certified quality manager, but the information required may differ depending on the type of building. For certain types of construction, environmental issues (eg, the possible pollution of soil and water) may also need to be addressed. The application is reviewed by the local building committee, which assesses whether the intended construction is in line with the existing zoning plan (if applicable) and environmental viewpoints. The building committee shall also take into account the interest of the general public and neighbours.

Can planning decisions be appealed? If so, what is the appeal procedure?

Local building committee decisions regarding planning permission can be appealed to the County Administrative Board within three weeks. A County Administrative Board decision may be appealed to the Land and Environment Court, and ultimately to the Land and Environment Court of Appeal.

What are the consequences of failure to comply with planning decisions or regulations?

Failure to obtain or comply with required permits (ie, the unauthorised construction or use of a building) may result in liquidated damages or an injunction issued by the municipality. Unless planning permission is obtained retrospectively, a building that is unlawfully erected must be demolished.

What regime governs the protection and development of historic and cultural buildings?

Different types of protection for historical and cultural buildings and sites can be decided by the municipality, as well as the County Administrative Board and the government. 

Government expropriation

What regime applies to government expropriation of real estate?

Permission to expropriate must be granted by the government or the County Administrative Board (by delegation). The basic rules on expropriation are found in the Constitution, whereby the property of any citizen is protected against expropriation unless it is required to satisfy “urgent public interests". Expropriation is fairly unusual in Sweden. 

What is the required notice period for expropriation and how is compensation calculated?

No notice period is provided by law. The compensation is the calculated market value plus an additional compensation of 25%. If the expropriation affects any business conducted on the real estate before the expropriation, the subject being expropriated may be entitled to additional compensation.

Environmental issues

What environmental certifications are required for the development of real estate and how are they obtained?

Depending on the intended use of the premises, a number of different environmental permissions may be required. This particularly applies to environmentally hazardous activities under the Environmental Code. Permission is normally obtained from the County Administrative Board or the municipality. The use of voluntary environmental certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and GreenBuilding is common practice amongst real estate developers. 

What environmental disclosure obligations apply to real estate sales?

There are no general disclosure obligations in a sale of real estate. The environmental liability is tied to the polluter. Environmental due diligence is advised in transactions where it is deemed plausible that environmental damage or issues may be present. It is common practice to use environmental warranties in the sale contract.

What rules and procedures govern environmental clean-up of property? Which parties are responsible for clean-up and what is the extent of their liability?

Every party conducting or which has previously conducted activities that have caused pollution or contamination is responsible for the clean-up (the ‘polluter pays’ principle). If the polluter cannot be found or lacks the ability to perform or pay for necessary measures, the responsibility can be transferred to the existing or a previous land owner which acquired the property after December 31 1998 and was aware or ought to have been aware of the pollution at the time of acquisition. The extent of the liability may be reduced by the court, if deemed reasonable. 

Are there any regulations or incentive schemes in place to promote energy efficiency and emissions reductions in buildings?

As an EU member state, Sweden has undertaken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The national goal is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). In order to promote energy-efficient buildings, grants are available from the state. All commercial and residential buildings in Sweden must have a published report stating the total energy consumption of that building (usually displayed at the entrance of the building).