Real Estate Blog

Αcquisitive prescription

27 Feb 2015

Legal, by Athina Ledaki, Lawyer/Accredited Mediator (CEDR)

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Acquiring property rights in Greece may be an oral, non-written procedure, that is, not necessarily through a notary's transfer act. In fact "oral" property transfer was the rule back in the 19th century. That is the reason why it's very frequent when it comes to deed searching in case of a legal review of a property for sale, to come across to this way of property acquisition which means that the lawyer is faced to the lack of registrations in the name of the seller. In that case, the owner/seller will just have to prove his ownership rights on the specific property using any other evidence to support his arguments. Solemn declarations by the neighbours or the intestate heirs of the seller's predecessor to confirm the property's surface and boundaries and the seller's rights as well are the most common documents provided. 

The legal Greek  word to describe this way of acquiring real rights is "χρησικτησία" (in Greek pronounced hrissiktissia) and corresponding terms would be "acquisitive prescription" ranking among the modes of acquiring territory in international law, as the result of the peaceable exercise of de facto sovereignty for a very long period over a territory,  recognized by international lawyers as being close to the Roman "usucapio" or " adverse possession", a method of acquiring title to real property by possession for a statutory period under certain conditions.

In Greece, in order to acquire property through this procedure the following conditions must apply:  20 years (1) of continuous and uncontested (2) use of the property  by the alleged owner being in good faith (3) and acting with full confidence of being the owner (4). These are,consequently, the requirements that the alleged owner has to prove that are fulfilled, in case his real rights are contested.So, he, as the possessor, has to prove that throughout the whole period of the 20 years required, he has been exercising acts of  ruling this specific property manifesting his will to consider it as his. Supervision, renting, cultivating, fencing, inspecting, visiting, measuring the property and similar acts are considered to be as such.


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