NewsClaiming ownership over real estate property where the proprietor is inaccurately indicated as being “unknown”

Properties that are not recorded as belonging to a named proprietor and that are registered in the cadastral books and other data documented through the Cadastral Register as properties of an “Unknown Proprietor”, are considered as owned by the Greek State, once the first registration becomes final. First cadastral registrations that have not been challenged within the applicable limitation period, create an irrebuttable presumption as to their accuracy in favour of those appearing as beneficiaries of the property rights resulting in the true owner being denied of the right to challenge the presumption. Purchasers acquiring property from such first registered proprietors are afforded absolute protection even when they are aware of the mistaken entry.

The definitive first registrations are rendered immune from legal challenge by operation of law and consist in a firm starting point for the further operation of the cadastral system and the validity of transactions in accordance with fundamental principles of maintaining public confidence and security of transactions that are integral to the unique institution of registered land.

Certain cases can be resolved out of court even after the first registrations are final following a procedure for the correction of manifest errors. This involves submitting an application to the competent Cadastral Office which can correct erroneous entries in the register that are indisputably evident from the registered deed and supporting documents. Where the error cannot be rectified by reference to this procedure or the Cadastral Office, at its discretion, otherwise refuses rectification on specific grounds, then an application has to be made to the first instance cadastral judge where the property is located that decides pursuant to the rules of procedure for resolving non-contentious matters.

According to well-established case law, the subject-matter of such court proceedings, which must also be served on the Greek State, is for the court to establish the existence of the applicant’s registrable property right and to order the correction of the initial inaccurate registration in the cadastral books.

Final judgments delivered in respect of lawsuits that were filed within the limitation period for correcting first registrations over properties with mistakenly-entered “unknown” proprietors continue to be registered in the cadastral books after the expiry of the deadline and to give rise to rectification of entries, as per their ruling.

From the creation of the irrebuttable presumption, any change in the content of the first registrations as regards beneficiaries and their registered rights is excluded. In case of an inaccurate first registration that has become final, the real beneficiary can bring a claim in tort against the mistakenly-entered beneficiary for unjust enrichment, without precluding the outright return of the property to the true owner provided that the property has not been transferred (for instance, through sale) and a conveyance has not been recorded in the cadastral books. Fulfillment of these conditions is assessed by the competent court further to taking legal action on detailed grounds. Where litigation is successful, the property is returned to the true owner by way of contract that is registered in the cadastral books as a subsequent entry without rectification of previously registered content.

At Calypsis we are dedicated to resolving real estate issues that interfere with our clients’ property ownership rights in the most expeditious and advantageous manner with a view to safeguarding their interests and facilitating the transfer of property where this is the desired outcome.

This insight has been prepared for general information purposes and is not to be treated as legal advice.

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