Rights and obligations associated with property ownership.

  1. What does an EU citizen need to prepare before “handling” anything (tools, documents, papers, confirmations…) and where can they find/get them?

Subject of ownership:

According to the Civil Code, properties include lands and structures connected to the land with a fixed foundation. All owners have equal rights and obligations and receive equal legal protection, regardless of whether the owner is a state, an individual, a legal entity, or a municipality. Some things, as specified by a special law, may be solely owned by the state or designated legal entities, or only individuals domiciled in the Slovak Republic (for example, properties in military zones, state lands in areas with the third to fifth level of nature protection, and so on).

Acquiring ownership:

Ownership of a property can be acquired through a purchase, gift, or other contracts, inheritance, a decision by a state authority, or based on other circumstances stipulated by law.

The contract transferring real estate must always be in writing, with the expressions of the parties, including their signatures, on the same document. Individual sheets of the contract must be securely attached (stitched). Relative invalidity of the legal act of transfer can be claimed by a spouse if the property is the subject of undivided co-ownership of spouses and both spouses did not sign the contract. Also, co-owners whose pre-emptive right according to the Civil Code to a co-ownership share was violated. The signature of the transferor on the real estate transfer agreement must be certified. The signature is certified by a notary, municipality, or district office except in the case where the real estate transfer agreement is drawn up in the form of a notarial record or authenticated by a lawyer. To verify the identity of the signatory, it is necessary to present an ID card, travel document, or a residence permit for a foreigner.

The requirements of the property transfer agreement for a residential or non-residential space and its attachments are regulated by a special law (amending the Real Estate Cadaster Act).

If real estate is transferred based on a contract, ownership is acquired by entry into the real estate cadaster according to special regulations, unless a special law stipulates otherwise. If ownership is acquired by a decision of a state authority, ownership is acquired on the day specified in it, and if not specified, on the date of legal validity of the decision.

Ownership acquired through inheritance. Inheritance is acquired upon the death of the testator. The court commences inheritance proceedings even without a petition as soon as it learns from the register that someone has died or has been declared dead. The heir is liable up to the value of the inherited estate for reasonable costs related to the testator’s funeral and the testator’s debts transferred upon their death. Thus, the heir is liable not only for the inherited property, even if they sold it immediately, but to the extent of the price of the inherited property. In inheritance proceedings, the notary’s fee as a judicial commissioner and their cash expenses are borne by the inheritor who acquired the inheritance. In other cases, it’s the state. The heir has the right to refuse inheritance, and the refusal also applies in case additional property of the testator appears later.

Ownership acquired by prescription. If the rightful possessor continuously holds the property for ten years, they become the owner. The rightful possessor is someone who, considering all circumstances, in good faith believes the property belongs to them. It’s not sufficient to have the possessor’s subjective belief; good faith needs to be assessed objectively.

Ownership is also acquired through execution, on the day of granting the award to the auctioneer, if the highest bid was paid by the bidder and the court approved the grant of the award, the bidder becomes the owner of the property as of the date of granting the award.

Rights associated with real estate ownership according to the Civil Code:

According to ยง 123 of the Civil Code, within the limits of the law, the owner is entitled to possess, use, enjoy the fruits, and dispose of their property. The owner has the right to protect against unauthorized interference with their property rights; in particular, they can demand the delivery of the property from someone who wrongfully withholds it.

Obligations associated with real estate ownership according to the Civil Code:

The owner of the property must refrain from anything that would unreasonably burden others or seriously endanger the exercise of their rights. Therefore, in particular, they must not endanger the neighbor’s structure or land with alterations without taking adequate measures to secure the structure or land, must not unreasonably burden the neighbor with noise, dust, ash, smoke, gases, vapors, odors, solid and liquid waste, light, shading, and vibrations, must not allow kept animals to enter the neighboring land and recklessly, or in an inappropriate season, remove tree roots from their land or remove branches of a tree extending onto their neighbor’s land. If necessary and if it does not prevent the efficient use of neighboring lands and structures, the court, after obtaining the opinion of the relevant building authority, may decide that the landowner is obliged to fence the land. Adjacent landowners are obliged to allow entry onto their lands, or on the buildings standing on them, for necessary periods and to a necessary extent, if essential for the maintenance and management of neighboring lands and buildings. If damage occurs to the land or building due to this, the responsible party must compensate for it; this liability cannot be avoided. The owner is obliged to tolerate the use of their property for a necessary period and to a necessary extent, in case of emergency or urgent public interest; compensation is provided for this use.

In the public interest, property can be expropriated or property rights restricted, if the purpose cannot be achieved otherwise, and only based on the law, solely for that purpose, and with compensation.

  1. What awaits a citizen?

Registration in the Real Estate Cadaster (competence of the Real Estate Cadaster Authority).

  1. Who will help a citizen if they’re unsure?

If someone is in a state of material need (their income does not exceed 1.6 times the amount of the subsistence minimum, and they cannot afford legal services with their other assets), they can seek help from the Legal Aid Center.

In other cases, they can contact a lawyer – List of lawyers, or a notary, for legal advice related to their activity.

  1. Sanctions for non-compliance with obligations

According to the Civil Code, non-compliance with mandatory norms, i.e., those required by law, causes absolute invalidity of the legal act or its parts. Relative invalidity of the legal act must be sought by the authorized person in court.