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Real Estate Rights And Registration In Greece

Date: 12.04.2019 / Lexology.com / Comments (0)

Rights and registration

Rights

What types of holding right over real estate are acknowledged by law in your jurisdiction?

Holding rights over real estate in Greece include:

- full ownership (which can be divided in horizontal and vertical ownership);
- usufruct (a limited real right/personal servitude which accrues the benefits – profits or otherwise – of land owned by the proprietor (ie, bare owner), established by a notarial contract registered in the cadastre);
- usucapio (adverse possession – ownership acquired by length of possession);
- possession (not a real right, but a right to use and exploit the property);
- pre-notations of mortgage;
- mortgages;
- easements (real servitudes for the benefit of a third person, permitting certain acts serving its property (eg, the right to pass from the servient estate to cut wood or water cattle)); and
- seizures (temporary or permanent, following a court decision).

Surface rights are provided for public properties (ie, a full real right over the owner’s land, permitting the surface beneficiary to build on and exploit the whole or part of the property, given by virtue of a notarial contract registered in the cadastre).

Are rights to land and buildings on the land legally separable?

The general rule is that land and building are not separated, with the following exceptions:

- horizontal/vertical properties (ie, joint ownership in land and common spaces and separate ownership in buildings, usually apartments); and
- surface rights (where the beneficiary of the right does not own the land but has full powers over it).

Buildings are also separated from the land on which they sit in Rhodes, Κos and Leros (where the Italian cadastre applies).

Which parties may hold and exercise rights over real estate? Are there restrictions on foreign ownership of property?

Greek nationals and other EU citizens, legal entities with a registered office in the European Union or the European Free Trade Association and third-country nationals may hold a right over real property. However, third-country nationals or legal entities are excluded from acquiring property in border areas (including some islands) as defined in the law, except where they obtain special permission by the relevant authorities; the same applies to the transfer of shares of non-EU legal entities acquiring a property in border areas

How are rights, encumbrances and other interests over real estate prioritised?

The ‘first in time’ rule applies in relation to the perfection of the interest secured. More specifically, the rule applies to the registration of:

- several applications of purchase contracts or mortgages in the same day;
- conversion of pre-notation of mortgage to mortgage;
- seizure and mortgages; and
- seizure and purchase contracts.

The conversion of a pre-notation of mortgage to mortgage is not prevented by the transfer of the property. If a seizure takes place prior to the conversion of a pre-notation of mortgage to mortgage, the claims secured by the pre-notation of mortgage are listed randomly and the acquisition of property by the buyer is free of burden. In case of forced execution on a seized property, the claims secured by seizure are randomly listed. Banks’ in rem secured claims are preferentially satisfied, with certain exceptions (eg, a where Greek state-privileged claim has been announced).

Registration

Must real estate rights, interests and transactions be registered in your jurisdiction? What are the legal effects of registration?

Registration is obligatory for:

- sale contracts;
- contracts granting surface rights;
- mortgages;
- pre-notation of mortgage;
- establishment of horizontal/vertical ownership, easements or usufruct;
- acceptance of inheritance;
- donations;
- expropriation declarations;
- final court decisions which acknowledge ownership by adverse possession;
- timeshare contracts;
- condominium lease agreements; and
- lease of buildings for activities financing by the Public Investments Programme.

Leases for a term of nine years or more are also registered to protect the lessee’s rights in case the property is sold. A lawsuit claiming property rights must also be registered, otherwise it will be dismissed by the court without prejudice. Without registration, the transfer of ownership or the establishment of real rights is incomplete and has no binding effect on third parties.

What are the procedural and documentary requirements for entry into the national real estate register(s)? Can registration be completed electronically?

For registration in the cadastre, a formal application must be filed along with supporting documents (ie, the title granting the right and a topographic diagram or site plan). Electronic submission is available. The rights holder must pay the required fee (€35 for each specific right or €20 for auxiliary spaces), as well as an additional amount after registration (depending on the property tax value). Registration is effected in two phases:

- For areas under cadastral survey, the properties are identified and mapped, the right holders are called to declare their property rights and, after legal inspection by the cadastre office, the rights are listed in the cadastral table with their identification code number as ‘initial lists’.
- For areas under operative cadastre, after transfer of the initial lists to the cadastre books, a similar procedure is followed to finalise registration (‘final lists’).

Legal instruments (administrative and/or judicial) regarding corrections to or disputes arising from the registration are available at each of the above stages, as well as a specific procedure where a property is flagged as belonging to an unknown owner. For each property, the competent cadastral office issues a certificate of declaration and a certified extract of the cadastral diagram.

What information is recorded in the national real estate register(s) and to what extent is such information publicly available?

Recorded information includes:

- the rights holder’s name or company name and address;
- a description of the property and the nature of the right registered;
- the deeds proving the right;
- topographic diagrams;
- subsequent transactions; and
- any other information necessary to identify the property and/or the property owner.

The information contained in the cadastral books is publicly available.

Is there a state guarantee of title?

There is no state guarantee of title. Nevertheless, registration produces an irrefutable presumption as to the owner of the property.



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