Here is all you need to know about the forced deprivation of property rights
by Judyta Kruk-Antoszewska
legal trainee at Kancelaria Prawna Nowicki i Ziemczyk
Adwokaci i Radcowie Prawni Sp. p. in Warsaw
While Polish law provides a legal basis for property rights revocation, public awareness of the existence of such a remedy is still pretty low. Meanwhile, let us imagine that some disruptive owner or tenant of premises within a residential or commercial property, subject to separate ownership, hinders other owners or generates extra maintenance costs as a result of improper behavior or outstanding fees. As a matter of fact, most flagrant are cases related to commercial properties where business activities are performed.
At the outset, a few words of clarification to this slightly dramatic title should be in order. Namely, all legal provisions on deprivation of property rights (meaning the request to sell given premises by way of public auction) refer solely to situations where an apartment or a commercial property is subject to separate ownership, i.e. has an established real-estate register. Premises which are not subject to separate ownership cannot be separated for compulsorily sale.
The currently binding legal provisions state that housing communities are entitled to take legal action and request the sale of premises by way of public auction if their owner: is in long-term arrears with the payment of their fees; seriously or persistently violates house policy; behaves improperly, impeding the use of other joint property premises.
Forced deprivation of property
Based on the idea of forced deprivation of property rights, several opinions have already been established in case law and legal writings. According to one conclusion, long-term outstanding payments constitute a justified reason to request the sale of premises, as other owners are compelled to finance their neighbor. What’s more, such a situation often prevents a property manager from carrying out the necessary repairs and renovations, maintaining the adequate level of cleanliness or proper technical condition of the whole building. Persistent debtors who are constantly in arrears with their payments lead to a lack of funds necessary to pay bills for collectively settled electricity and water delivered to the building. In such an event, there is a threat to the entire building of discontinuation of supply, which might be disastrous for all residents as well as entrepreneurs performing business activities in such premises.
According to one court’s judgments, property owners who intentionally run up debts and pay them subsequently after the court’s decision has been taken, could be regarded as being “long-term” in arrears with payments and lose their premises on these grounds. It is a good sign for the future – the owner, who acts unfairly using existing legal mechanisms, would not be able to defend himself in such a case.
However, let us bear in mind that outstanding fees are not the only thorn in the flesh. Sometimes, owners use their properties in a way that makes normal coexistence impossible. This problem is becoming even more vexatious, especially for business owners. Many claims have been brought before Polish courts so far, starting from persistent noise-making to obsessive waste gathering on the premises due to so-called collecting patterns.