It is worth keeping in mind that on 1 January 2024, in the Czech Republic real estate with insufficiently identified owners will pass to the state. The transfer will occur as a result of the “activation” of the provisions of section 1045 of the Civil Code. According to these provisions, the abandoned immovable property becomes the property of the state. The owner is deemed to have abandoned the immovable property if the owner has not exercised ownership of it for ten years (Section 1050(2) of the Civil Code). At the same time, the Civil Code stipulated that the said period would only begin to run from the date of its entry into force, i.e., from 1 January 2014 (Art. 3067).

The existence of immovable properties with insufficiently identified owners is primarily a result of the events that swept through the former Czechoslovakia in the twentieth century. It is therefore a consequence of the Holocaust, the post-war expulsion, and several waves of emigration since 1938. Further, the legislation introduced by the previous regime did not contribute to order in real estate matters. The regime abolished the principle of “intabulation” in the acquisition of real estate as of 1 January 1951. Ownership of immovable property was thus acquired directly at the time when the contract came into force and not only by entry in the Land Register. Subsequent entry in the Land Register, or failure to do so, had no effect on ownership or its duration.  

Correction of incorrect, incomplete or duplicate entries in the Land Register has occurred throughout the thirty years since November 1989. However, in the interest of society as a whole, i.e., in particular to set as much certainty as possible in the legal regulation of real estate, the legislator provided that with the ten-year anniversary of the Civil Code, the real estate of insufficiently identified owners would be transferred to the state. However, there are also minority opinions according to which the transfer of properties of insufficiently identified owners will not take place on that date, see Janoušek, Lubomír. § 1050 [Presumption of abandonment]. In: Petrov, Jan, Výtisk, Michal, Beran, Vladimír et al. Civil Code 2 Edition (2 up-date). Praha: C. H. Beck, 2023, marg. No. 6).

Properties of insufficiently identified owners are clearly listed in the list maintained and continuously updated by the Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs (ÚZSVM) ( Updating of the list does not consist in adding properties to the list, but on the contrary deletes properties for which the owner has been identified from the list.

Thus, if someone has a suspicion that their ancestors may have owned immovable properties in the Czech Republic and these are still registered in their names in the Land Registry, they must check the list maintained by the ÚZSVM. If they find their ancestors on the list and if the succession of inheritance is evidenced (regardless of whether by law or by will), then they need to apply to the locally competent district court for a supplementary hearing of the succession. The petition must, of course, be accompanied by documents from which the order of succession, and thus the standing of the petitioner, can be seen (typically birth and death certificates). Since insufficiently identified owners are listed in the land registry as a result of events that occurred even more than eighty years ago, it is common for several succession proceedings to be reopened in succession (e.g., to confirm inheritance from grandparent to parent and then from parent to child). Each of these successions is governed by the substantive law in force at the time of the deceased’s death.

And since the existence of properties with insufficiently identified owners is often caused by the fact that their former owners hastily fled Czechoslovakia without having the time and opportunity to settle their property affairs, a foreign element is often present in inheritance proceedings concerning these properties – one of the heirs of the property resides outside the Czech Republic. If the foreign heir is a grandchild or even a great-grandchild of the original owner, it is often the case that at the parent-grandchild or grandchild/great-grandchild level, the inheritance is governed by the law of the country where the grand/great-grandparent was habitually resident at the time of death.

From the above, it is apparent that going through several consecutive succession proceedings, involving heirs settled in different parts of the world, with a notary hearing the succession under a different law than Czech law, is an extremely difficult process.

However, the initiation of inheritance proceedings should itself be a reason for not transferring the property to the state – as the initiation of inheritance proceedings means that the heir is beginning to exercise their right of ownership over the property, thus ending the legal presumption of abandonment. It is then, of course, advisable to inform ÚZSVM of the fact that the inheritance proceedings have been initiated.

Since the properties of insufficiently identified owners will pass to the state as a result of the application of a rebuttable legal presumption, it will not be impossible to claim ownership of such property even after 1 January 2024. However, whoever claims such ownership will have to prove that they have not abandoned the property. Nevertheless, it is likely that in such a case the state will ask what prevented the owner of the property from having themselves registered as its owner in the Land Registry (or at least from initiating inheritance proceedings) when they claim that they did not abandon the property in question. In other words, after 1 January 2024, the possibility of claiming ownership of a property that is now registered as having an insufficiently identified owner will be significantly limited.

Therefore, if someone is interested in claiming ownership of a property that has an unidentified owner as of today in the land register in the Czech Republic, they need to start acting by the end of this year. Claims made after 1 January 2024 are likely to be predestined to failure.


  • autor:

    Dan is a member of the PETERKA&PARTNERS Practice Group for Family and Inheritance Law. Dan also focuses on dispute resolution, i.e., on representation of clients in litigation and arbitration proceedings, further he concentrates on ruling enforcement and insolvency. Apart from dispute resolution, Dan counsels clients on corporate and contractual law. In his career, Dan has provided services to major Czech banks such as Komerční banka and Raiffeisenbank and further to a leading manufacturer hi-tec products for aviation and power generation, a Czech subsidiary of an American petrochemical group, Skanska, IVECO, MZ Liberec, Veolia, Wikov, Linet, LOT, etc. Between 2013 – 2016 Dan was a member of the management board of one of our foreign branches. Before joining the firm, Dan worked as an in-house lawyer for one of the largest European used car dealers – AAA Auto.

    Všechny články autora CV