Ownership and property

Ownership is the full power of a person over a thing. Property means the set of rights and obligations belonging to a person which can be measured in money.

Ownership can be anything and one can possess anything, the possession of which and being the owner of which is not prohibited by law, including immovables and movables and rights and obligations that can be measured in money.

Immovables means the land and the structures (for example, a plot and a building situated on that plot) permanently attached to the land and apartment ownership (part of the land and structure) is also immovable property. A thing which is not immovable, is movable.

In order to perform a transaction with an immovable, one shall turn to a notary. For the transfer of immovable property ownership, the seller and the buyer shall enter into a notarised agreement and submit a registration application for changing the entry in the Land Register. The ownership shall be transferred upon the entry in the Land Register. Upon conclusion of an agreement at the notary’s office, the notary shall explain the content, circumstances and legal consequences of the transaction to the parties, perform checks from the registers, including checks of the right of representation and disposal. It is recommended to listen to the notary’s explanations and carefully read the prepared documents before signing in order to prevent mistakes.

Movables mean all the big and small things that are separate from land – car, vacuum cleaner, books, also, for example, a caravan, a pin, etc. A presumption is applied to movables: the person possessing a thing is also the owner of a thing as long as the opposite has not been proved (for example, a person wearing a jacket is presumably also the owner of the jacket).

Joint and common ownership

Ownership can arise by intestate or testate succession, on the basis of a contract, or through accidental events where ownership arises irrespective of the owner’s will.

Ownership can belong simultaneously to one or several persons. In the first case, it is a sole ownership and in the second case, a shared ownership. The shared ownership may be either:

  • common ownership - where ownership belongs to several persons in legal shares. Common ownership often applies to housing. For example, if one of the apartments in common ownership is destroyed, the ownership of all co-owners shall decrease, not only of the co-owner whose apartment it was; or
  • joint ownership - where two or more persons own in unallocated shares. Thus, the co-owner shall not own the specific part of the thing, but a part of the ownership of the whole thing. This type of ownership can be often seen in marriage (specifically, in the Family Law Act).

One of the specific forms of common ownership is the apartment ownership, which is discussed in more detail in the Apartment Ownership Act, which primarily regulates the ownership relations between the apartment owners of multi-storey buildings. An apartment ownership shall consist of sole ownership to an apartment and common ownership to the parts of the building in common use and the land on which the building is situated.

Termination of the right of ownership

The right of ownership shall expire on a voluntary or forced basis.

  • Ownership shall expire on a voluntary basis, if the owner abandons, sells or grants a thing.
  • Ownership shall expire on a forced basis upon the destruction of a thing, on the basis of law, by expropriation and confiscation. Ownership shall also expire when another person acquires it by prescription, on the basis of a court judgement or by dividing a thing in common ownership. If the basis for the right of ownership was a condition or such right was valid only until a certain term, the right of ownership shall also expire upon the expiry of such a condition or term.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property means the right to the results of human creative work. Intellectual property can be divided into three types:

  • copyright (literary works, works of art and scientific works)
  • related rights (rights to the bearer, producer of phonograms, rights of a broadcaster and the so-called new rights to, for example, the compiler of a database, arising from the European Union directives
  • industrial property (trademarks, patents, useful models, layout-designs of integrated circuits, industrial designs, etc).

Property

An owner shall have the right to possess, dispose of and use a thing and receive any profit from the use of a thing.

Possession shall be the right to keep a thing in one’s hands and keep all unauthorised persons away from the possession of a thing. The possession shall be considered lawful as long as nobody has proved the opposite. If the owner transfers a thing into the hands of another person, for example, a lessee, the latter shall become a direct possessor and the owner himself/herself an indirect possessor. This means that the owner still has the right to protect his/her possession, except only against the lessee who is the direct possessor of a thing at the particular moment.

Use shall be the right to use the useful properties of a thing and receive profit from it. Usually, a thing is used by the owner himself/herself, but the owner may also transfer the right of use of a thing to other persons.

Disposal shall be the right of the owner to manage the fate of a thing, for example, transfer, pledge, establish rights in favour of other persons and undertake any changes and arrangements to the ownership. The right of disposal is such an important justification for the right of ownership that upon the full lapse of the right of disposal or transfer to another person, the right to ownership shall also expire. In addition, being the owner shall give the person the right to claim back his/her ownership or property, i.e. the things or the rights and obligations that can be measured in financial terms, from all third persons through court.

Compiled by: Ministry of Justice