Property acquisition in the Republic of Croatia

  1. through a legal transaction
  2. by judicial decision or decision of another competent authority
  3. by way of succession and
  4. through the law

To acquire the ownership rights to a property, not only does one have to comply with the general requirements of Croatian property law, such as a property’s ability to be the object of ownership, the acquirer’s ability to acquire the rights to a property and a valid legal title – but also additional special conditions, depending on the object that is purchased (movable property or real estate) and how it is aquired.

In order to acquire the right of ownership on the basis of a legal transaction, in addition to the general conditions, the following special conditions have to be met:

  • Ownership of the legal predecessor – a person who sells the property is the owner
  • valid legal transaction – the purpose of the legal transaction must be the acquisition of property, when buying a property, the contract must be in written form
  • Acquisition type – Transfer of a movable property (movables), entry in the land registry in the case of (real estate). Here it should be emphasized that no property can be obtained without entering the property in the land register.

The right of ownership may also be acquired through a judicial decision or by decision of a competent authority, such as: in an auction or when the buyer is awarded the contract for the property, through the decision on expropriation, on the basis of a court decision in a co-ownership dissolution procedure, etc.
Ownership is acquired by succession at the time of inheritance, regardless of whether it is the legatee or legal inheritance. If the real estate is inherited, the heir will acquire the so-called non-proprietary right of ownership at the time of inheritance. By entering ownership in the land register, this fact becomes public for third parties which means that it becomes easier for the owner to manifest his rights in legal transactions. The condition for the acquisition of property by way of succession is death of the testator. The thing that is acquired must be estate and the heir to the estate must either be a legal heir or a legatee.

Specific acquisition in the Croatian legal system is acquisition of property by law. The property is acquired this way, if the legal requirements hereto are met. This type of acquisition is also known as the original acquisition of property. If the property is acquired by law, all other rights of third party fall away because the new ownership is justified (under legal conditions).

Adverse possession is the most common way of acquisition by Croatia law. This legal institution is not known in all European countries, which is why it is so incomprehensible to many. The reason for transfer of ownership of a property is simply the passing of a period of time determined by law. As with other types of acquisition, certain conditions must be met, namely, the authenticity, legitimacy and good faith of the acquirer.

To clarify this, we will explain these legal terms. Ownership is considered legal if a person has a valid legal “title” (or reason) for this possession. For example, if a real estate purchase agreement has been signed but the buyer has not (yet) requested entry in the land registry). A property has “authenticity” if it came into existence without the use of violence, deception, mystery or abuse of trust. “Good faith” is measured/depends on/by the circumstances; the acquirer has a right to assume that the property was lawfully acquired if he has no reasonable reason to suspect otherwise. A person that lawfully and in good faith, possesses movable property for three and real estate for 10 years, is suspected to be the rightful owner of this property. A person that possesses only in good faith, is assumed to be its rightful owner for movable property after 10 and real estate after 20 years.