November 28, 2019 – Life as the owner of a holiday house in Croatia used to be a lot easier, even on Vis, says longterm Visophile Miles Robinson.
In 2003 my wife fell in love with Vis during a chance visit and by November we were the proud owners of a structurally sound (except the roof!) 200-year-old house in the centre of Kut.
We were lucky. There was only one owner to deal with and we were quickly introduced to a builder who had been ‘broken in’ to English tastes in internal decoration and fittings by two other kindred spirits.
The house has two floors above the konoba, plus a roof space, and originally had four bedrooms, etc. However, in talking to friends at home we were advised “you can never have too few bedrooms” so we removed the upper two bedrooms. This created a large open plan sitting room (which my wife rather grandly calls the ‘salon’!) which has a view over roofs to the bay on one side and roofs to the hills over Kut on the other.
The house was finished and occupied in 2005 and has proved a comfortable, relaxing bolthole for the two of us plus, occasionally, another couple. Fairly soon we made local friends and discovered that the duties of guide and meals in house can take the edge off the pleasure of additional good company after the novelty wore off. The advice was definitely sound!
After a year or so we discovered that other foreign owners were letting their houses when empty. Obviously, this benefitted both the island with extra tourist revenue and more than covered the running costs of the house for the year.
The island authorities, in line with their laissez-faire ‘pomalo’ attitude to island life in general, seemed to be relaxed about our activities
No. It couldn’t last! But now, from the sublime to the ridiculous, the bureaucratic form-filling has got too much, in addition to problems with our bank.
Some of the problems we have brought on ourselves, by asking the authorities what rules, regulations and taxes we were subject to. Big mistake! We should have just kept our heads down.
First, it was the eVisitor system, which requires the owner of ‘every’ rented house to log the full name, date of birth, and nationality, plus arrival and leaving dates, of every person occupying the house. This seems to be exactly the same system that applies to hotels. We got over this by employing a local agent (for a commission) and giving him our personal login and password to access the system!
However the big body blow came in 2017 when we were told that not only was our rental income subject to 13% VAT, backdated to 2015, but that monthly returns needed to be submitted (including zeros) for every month from January 2015; and that these returns needed to be filed by a tax accountant. The only accountant on the island quoted 650 Kn per month, but we found someone in Zagreb who would do it for 450 Kn, plus 25% VAT of course!
And then Splitska bank was sold to Hungarian owned OTP. The transfer of accounts was done without problems, but we were soon told that the only way we could access our accounts was via their mobile app. In the meantime, we had accepted rental deposits from foreign tourists renting our house which were due repayment in their own currency after they had left without damage. OTP told us that their internal rules prevented them from allowing non-resident account holders (us) to make any payments to foreign bank accounts.
Attempting to speak to someone in authority via their “helpline” proved impossible, so I contacted OTP’s Deputy General Manager in Hungary who, eventually, put me in touch with their Complaints Department in Zadar. That was in August.
I have recently received confirmation that they will not lift these restrictions on non-resident account holders, which I have now reluctantly accepted.
It is now finally clear that OTP has no interest in offering a full banking service to non-residents.
When we return to Vis next May I shall see whether the only other bank on the island, Erste, also adopts the same restrictions on non-resident account holders.
I wonder if any of your other non-resident readers have experienced similar problems and are also becoming disillusioned with the obligations of holiday homeownership?