1. What needs to be prepared by an EU citizen before they ‘start dealing with authorities’ (tools, documents, documentation, certificates, etc.) and where can they find/obtain this?
Subject of ownership:
According to the Civil Code, immovable property is defined as land and constructions fixed in or to the ground by a firm foundation. All owners have the same rights and obligations and are granted the same legal protection, regardless of whether the owner is a state, natural person, legal entity, or a municipality. Some property stipulated by a special act may only be owned by the state or certain legal entities, or only by entities with their registered office in the Slovak Republic (such as immovable property on the territory of a military district, the state’s land with a nature protection level of 3 - 5, etc.)
Acquisition of ownership:
Ownership of a property may be acquired by purchase, donation, or other contract, by means of a decision of a state authority or on the basis of other facts stipulated by law.
A contract for the transfer of immovable property must always be made in writing, and the participants' statements, including their signatures, must be on the same document. Individual pages of the contract must be fixed to each other (stapled). A spouse is entitled to claim invalidity of a legal act if the immovable property is subject to matrimonial property and the contract was not signed by both spouses. Furthermore, co-owners are entitled to claim invalidity of a legal act if their pre-emptive right over the share of the property under the Civil Code was breached. The transferor’s signature on the contract for the transfer of immovable property must be authenticated. The signature is to be authenticated by a notary, municipality, or the District Office, unless the contract for the transfer of the immovable property is drawn up in the form of a notarial record or authorised by a lawyer. To verify the identity of the signatory, it is necessary to present an identity card, travel document or foreigner's residence permit.
The formalities of a contract for the transfer of ownership of a flat or non-residential premises and annexes to the contract are stipulated in Act No 182/1993 on the ownership of flats and non-residential premises.
If immovable property is transferred by means of a contract, the right of ownership is acquired by its registration in the Real Estate Cadastre under specific legislation, unless provided otherwise by a special act. If ownership is acquired based on a decision of a state body, the ownership is acquired by the date defined therein, and if it is not defined in the decision, on the date the decision becomes final.
Ownership acquired by inheritance. Ownership is acquired by the death of the testator. The court will start inheritance proceedings of its own motion as soon as it learns from the registry that a person has died or been declared dead. The heir is liable for reasonable costs associated with the funeral and debts of the testator passed on to the heir upon the testator's death, but only up to the amount of the acquired inheritance. The heir is thus not liable exclusively with the inherited property, even if it was sold right away, but up to the amount of the inherited property. The costs of the services of the notary acting as the judicial auditor and expenses relating to the succession proceedings are paid by the heir acquiring the inheritance. In other cases, the state is to cover the costs. The heir has the right to reject the inheritance. This right to refuse applies also if additional property of the testator is discovered.
Positive prescription of ownership. A lawful possessor becomes the owner of an immovable property after having continuous possession of it for at least 10 years. A lawful possessor is defined as a possessor who, in the light of all the circumstances, is acting in good faith that the property belongs to them. Good faith is assessed from an objective point of view, the subjective belief of a possessor that a property belongs to them is not sufficient.
Ownership is also acquired in execution proceedings as of the day the property is awarded by the auctioneer, if the highest bidder paid the relevant bid and the court approved the award, the highest bidder becomes the owner of the immovable property as of the date of the award.
Rights stemming from ownership of immovable property under the Civil Code
- Under Section 123, owners are entitled to hold the subject of their ownership, use it, consume its proceeds, and dispose of it.
- Owners have the right to protection against anyone who unlawfully infringes their ownership; in particular, owners may demand surrender of the object from the person who unlawfully retains it.
Obligations stemming from ownership of immovable property under the Civil Code
- Owners of a property must refrain from any activities that would cause nuisance to other persons or seriously jeopardise the exercise of their rights. Therefore, owners must not in particular jeopardise neighbours’ buildings or land by land work or alterations of a construction built on the land without taking sufficient measures to reinforce the construction or plot; they must not cause nuisance to neighbours, beyond what is appropriate in the circumstances, with noise, dust, ashes, smoke, gases, vapour, smells, solid or liquid waste, light, shading and vibrations; they must not let farmed animals intrude the neighbour's plot and carelessly or in an unsuitable time of year remove roots of trees from their soil or remove branches of trees crossing over to their plots.
- If required and if it does not prevent a purposeful use of the neighbouring plots and buildings, the court may, after ascertaining the opinion of the competent construction office, decide that the owner of the plot must fence the plot.
- Owners of neighbouring plots must provide access, for the necessary period of time and to the extent necessary, to their plots or to constructions erected on them, if it is necessary for the maintenance and management of the neighbouring plots and buildings. If damage to a plot or building arises from such use, the person who caused the damage must compensate for it; it is not possible to be released from such a liability.
- The owner must tolerate that in a state of emergency or overriding public interest, the owner’s property will be used for the necessary time, to the necessary extent and for compensation, if the purpose cannot be achieved otherwise.
- A property may be expropriated, or ownership thereof may be restricted in public interest, unless the purpose can be achieved otherwise; this may be done only on the basis of law, only for this purpose and for compensation.
2. What should citizens expect?
Registration in the Real Estate Cadastre.
3. Who can citizens consult when they do not know what to do?
When persons who are in material need (their income is below 1.6 times the minimum subsistence level and they are not able to secure legal services with their own assets), they may use the help of the Centre for Legal Aid.
In any other cases, they may contact a lawyer listed on the website of the Slovak Bar Association or a notary, if legal advice related to notarial work is needed, listed on the website of the Chamber of Notaries.
4. What sanctions are applicable for non-compliance with obligations?
According to the Civil Code, the failure to comply with mandatory rules, i.e. those required by law, results in absolute invalidity of a legal act or part thereof. Relative invalidity of a legal act will be claimed by the claimant in court.