Means of Acquisition of Ownership in the Republic of Croatia

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

  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.