Means of Acquisition of Ownership in the Republic of Croatia

6. June 2023

There are several ways of acquisition of ownership in the Republic of Croatia,

  1. by legal act
  2. by judicial decision or decision of another competent authority
  3. by succession and
  4. by law.

For the acquisition of ownership, the general requirements prescribed by the
Act on Ownership and Other real Rights must be met – that is, the ability of
the property to be the object of ownership, the ability of the acquirer to
acquire the right of ownership and a valid legal basis for the acquisition.
Depending on means of acquisition (movable or immovable property), also
some other specific requirements need to be satisfied.

Besides earlier mentioned general requirements that need to be met for
acquisition of ownership by legal act, also following specific
requirements need to be satisfied:

-Predecessor – person who transfers the ownership needs to be owner of
the object
-Valid legal act – purpose of the legal act needs to be acquisition of the
ownership, the contract for immovable property needs to be in written form,
-Particular mean of acquisition – handover (of movable property),
registration (of immovable property) in the Land Register. It needs to be
highlighted here, that the ownership of the immovable can be acquired
only trough registration in the Land Register.
Contract itself is only a
valid legal act that authorizes a person to require a registration.

Ownership can also be acquired by judicial decision or decision of another
competent authority.
For example, in the enforcement proceedings the
property is awarded to a buyer based on a judicial decision. Another
example is decision on expropriation or judicial decision on the dissolution of
the co-ownership relationship, etc.

Ownership is acquired by succession at the time of the death of the
deceased. This acquisition is ruled by the law not only for legal heirs but also
for legatee. Ownership of immovable property is acquired at the time of the
death. Therefore, the acquisition of a ownership right in immovable property
doesn’t require a recording in a register. However, if registered, the heir will
easily prove his right of ownership. Requirements for acquisition by
succession are that the deceased has passed away, that the object is part of
his estate and that the acquirer is heir by law or a legatee.

In the Croatian legal order the acquisition of ownership by law is rather
particular. The ownership is acquired at the time when the requirements of
the law are satisfied. It is also known as original acquisition. It should be
highlighted that the rights of third persons expire trough the acquisition of
the ownership by law. Trough an original acquisition a new right is
established which means that all other rights are cancelled (under
requirements of the law).

Most common mean of acquisition of ownership by law in the Republic of
Croatia is ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION. This legal institute is not
recognized in all European states, which is the reason why many find it
vague. Acquisitive prescription is a way of acquiring a property by meeting
statutory requirements of continuous possession in a longer period of time.
As well as at other means of acquisition, also here some specific
requirements need to be satisfied. Namely it depends of truthfulness,
lawfulness and good faith of the possessor.

For better understanding we’ll explain the meaning of these legal terms.
Possession is lawful if it has valid legal basis (for example, if a person
concludes a real property contract but doesn’t request registration in the
Land Register). It is truthful if it’s not gained by violence, fraud, stealth or
trust abuse. Good faith means that the possessor did not know or did not
reasonably have reason to suspect that he doesn’t have the right to possess
at the time of acquisition. Each possessor who is in good faith and has lawful
and truthful possession will acquire the ownership over immovables through
uninterrupted possession for ten years and over movables for three years.
Possessor who is only in good faith will acquire ownership of immovables
through uninterrupted possession thereof for twenty years and of
movables for ten years.