The Kytherian, October 21, 2012
Possession of a property is not only a physical action on a property but also a legal right protected under Greek Real Estate Law. Greek law regulates the possession as “the actual power on a property, exercised by a person who acts as its owner”. It is not necessary for the owner of the property to be physically present at the property to exercise his possession rights, but such right can be exercised through his appointed representative, power of attorney, his tenant or by allowing a third person to cultivate the property, occupy it, store things on/in it etc.
Possession of a property can be contested or disturbed. Such contest or disturbance can be effected by a third person possessing the property, claiming that he is legal possessor or excluding you or your representative in Greece from the usage of your property.
Common acts of contest are the following:
- when a person fences your property to his benefit;
- when someone fences together with his adjacent property a part of yours as well;
- when someone places signs anywhere on your property, naming the property as his;
- if someone seizes your property;
- when someone places locks without allowing you to enter the property;
- when the lease agreement has been terminated/expired and the tenant refuses to evacuate the property nor does he pay any rent;
- when the third person proceeds with the cultivation of the property without having an agreement with you;
- if a person collects the crops or does not allow you (or your representative) to collect the crops of your property;
- if a person does not allow you to use the well of your property;
- if the local shepherd passes his sheep through your property;
- if your neighbor parks his car on your lot etc.
The above actions are usual hints, which indicate that someone may contest or disturb your possession rights and is likely to claim adverse possession rights on your property. As we have repeatedly said, this squatter may take lawful ownership on your property after the lapse of 10 or 20 years, without you being able to defend it.
How can the above be countered? A Court lawsuit should be filed at the competent court, requesting the prohibition of the squatter to perform such acts, or even injunction measures before the local Magistrate’s Court for the temporary prohibition. However, there is a short deadline of one year as of the first squatter’s actions in order to pursue the injunction measures.
Our suggestion in order to avoid the costly and lengthy litigation in Greece against the adverse possession is:
- fence it and “keep an eye” on your property; ask a friend or relative to take a photo every year and e mail it to you.
- take care of your legal obligations (Acceptance of Inheritance, E9 etc) and
- if you have a tenant, worker, keeper, farmer, “friend” that is using your property, make sure that you have an agreement in writing.