Usufruct, in Roman-based legal systems, the temporary right to the use and enjoyment of the property of another, without changing the character of the property. This legal concept developed in Roman law and found significant application in the determination of the property interests between a slave held under a usus fructus (Latin: “use and enjoyment”) bond and a temporary master. Any property acquired by a slave as a result of his labour legally belonged to that master
Modern civil-law systems recognize two types of usufructs. The perfect usufruct includes only those things that a usufructuary (one who holds property under right of usufruct) can use without changing their substance, such as land, buildings, or movable objects; the substance of the property, however, may be altered naturally over time and by the elements. The quasi-, or imperfect, usufruct includes property that is consumable or expendable, such as money, agricultural products, and the like, which would be of no advantage to the usufructuary if he could not consume them, expend them, or change their substance.
Real estate in Oman is regulated by the Land Law (Royal Decree 5/80), 1980 which states that all land in the country is the property of the state, unless specified otherwise. The Law permits Omani nationals to enjoy the benefits of owning land on freehold and leasehold bases. Wholly Omani-owned companies and public jointstock companies with 51 per cent Omani shareholding may also own real estate in Oman.
However, corporate ownership of property is currently restricted to holding it for use as an administrative office, staff accommodation, warehouse, showroom or as a similar special purpose premise for achieving the company’s objectives. This means that a company may not deal in real estate for investment purposes, unless it is a land development company with land development as its objective.
Companies acquiring land for non-investment purposes are prohibited from disposing of the land within two years of its acquisition.
In addition to the Land Law, the following laws also govern real estate in Oman:
• The Land Register Law (Royal Decree 2/98), 1998;
• The Tenancy Law (Royal Decree 6/89), 1989;
• The Law of Expropriation of Property for Public Utility (Royal Decree 64/78), 1978;
• The Law Regulating the Ownership of Real Estate by the Nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council States (Royal Decree 21/04), 2004;
• The Usufruct Law (Royal Decree 5/81), 1981; and
• The Law on Foreign Ownership of Land in the Integrated Tourist Complexes (Royal Decree 12/06), 2006.