70 years ago (on 26 October 1945) the communist authorities in Warsaw issued the so-called Bierut decree that legalised the confiscation of plots of private land in the capital (stating also that compensation was applicable, although in practice this never occured). The decree was issued in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the capital but, as a matter of fact, it was used to confiscate Warsaw private property by the new government. As a result of the Bierut decree, some 40,000 properties were confiscated which constituted approximately 94% of the capital. Officially, the dispossessed ex-owners of confiscated properties were supposed to obtain another property in another location provided that they made an application within 6 month from the announcement of the decree. In practice, all these applications were refused.

Although the decree was example of brutal lawlessness and showed the thuggish side of the communists - it has been honoured for all these years and it is still in power today.

The legacy of the Bierut decree is overwhelming. Ownership problems are giving the city and investors a headache.

The pre-war owners of Warsaw real estate are now coming forward in increasing numbers to reclaim their former properties. As the law currently stands, the issue of restitution claims in Warsaw is a significant element of the property investment process. This results from the fact that there are no statutory deadlines that would limit the possibility of pursuing such claims. Thus a legal analysis is made for practically every project in Warsaw in order to assess the risks of existing or potential claims.

For 25 years we have been waiting for the law on the property restitution to be passed. Now the time is really high.

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