The case of acquisition of a townhouse in Lublin by adverse possession collapsed last week as the District Court in Lublin dismissed the claims of the plaintiffs. This brought an end to the four year proceedings in the court of the I instance. Filip Kowalczyk, who is representing the legitimate owners of the property, said “ it is really uplifting and encouraging that the Courts took the position that the ownership of real estate should be protected by the legal system
.” The last week’s verdict of the District Court in Lublin is an important decision on the highly controversial topic of adverse possession regarding the registered property in Poland.
This case involved a claim of ownership by adverse possession. To establish such claim, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that they (together with their predecessors) occupied the property for the statutory period of 30 years. Further, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that they behaved as the owners of the property – they looked after the property, paid taxes etc. The plaintiffs must present clear and convincing evidence to this respect.
The defendants (who are the heirs of the pre-war owners currently living in America) have moved for the judgment dismissing the action. The defendants asserted that a disputed townhouse belonged to their family for many decades (even during the communist era). They explained to the judge that they requested the townhouse to be returned with no success. Although they live in America and visit Poland rarely, they want to keep this property as part of the Jewish heritage in Poland.
The court held that the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient evidence which is clear and convincing, especially as regards adding time of possession by the plaintiffs’ predecessors. The court explained that the disputed townhouse should remain the ownership of the defendants.
Adverse possession requires factual possession of the property, with the necessary intention to possess and without the owner’s consent.
The plaintiffs must show:
- that they and any predecessors through whom they claim have been in adverse possession for at least 30 years (if they have been in bad faith)
- that they behaved as the real owners throughout the entire period of the possession
Adverse possession is important to understand because, as a property owner, you need to be aware of what can happen if you are not looking after your property. Overall, the idea of adverse possession is important because it ensures that the property is used efficiently. If a legal owner is not making use of the property and it is becoming deserted, someone willing should have the ability to take over the property and utilize it efficiently.