Does paying the IBI give you the right to a property?

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Pagar el ibi te da derecho a propiedad

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One of the most important tax obligations of a property owner is to pay the IBI. But, if you are not an owner: does paying the IBI give you the right to property? What requirements must be met? What does usucapion or acquisition prescription consist of? In this post we give you all the details.


In Spanish common law, the ways of acquiring property are regulated in article 609 of the Civil Code, which establishes the following:


Property is acquired by occupation.

Ownership and other rights over property are acquired and transmitted by law, by donation, by testate and intestate succession, and as a consequence of certain contracts through tradition.

They can also be acquired through prescription.


Therefore,one of the ways to acquire ownership of a property is through the passage of time.



How is ownership of a property acquired over time?


In real estate law it is common to hear about a figure called usucapion, which is also called acquisitive prescription. It is a mechanism that allows acquiring the right to property and other property rights of a possessory type based on the continuous possession of real estate for a period of time set by law.


In common law, regulated in the Civil Code, there aretwo types of usucapion: ordinary and extraordinary. The requirements to acquire property through ordinary usucaption are: possession of the property by the person as owner. Possession must be public, peaceful and uninterrupted. In addition, there must be good faith, that is, the belief that the possessor has that the person who gave him the property was the owner of it. There must also be a fair title and a specific time of possession, which for real estate is 10 years between present and 20 between absent.


In extraordinary usucaption it is not required that the possessor have fair title or act in good faith, but it is necessary that possession be in the concept of owner and that it be public and peaceful. The possession period for real estate is 30 years.


The Civil Code of Catalonia also regulates usucapion in article 531-23 et seq. These articles establish the following:


– Usucapion is an acquisitive title to property based on the possession of the property during the time established by law.

– For usucapion to exist, the possession must be in the concept of the holder of the right, public, peaceful and interrupted and neither title nor good faith is necessary.

– The possession period for usucapir is 20 years for real estate.



Requirements of ordinary and extraordinary usucapion (acquisitive prescription)


We are going to carefully analyze the requirements of usucapion or acquisitive prescription.


Possession as owner, public, peaceful and in good faith. This means that any external observer must have the impression that the possessor is the true owner of the property, since behaves as such. Furthermore, it must be a public possession, therefore, not hidden or clandestine. Possession, too, must be peaceful, that is, it must not have been acquired by exercising violence against the will of the true owner.


Term of possession. As we have seen, the term varies between common civil law and Catalan law. The Catalan Civil Code regulates a period for acquiring possession by usucapion of 20 years for real estate, while in the Civil Code of common law the period for ordinary prescription is 10 years between present and 20 years between absent and 30 years for extraordinary prescription.



Does paying the IBI give you the right to property?


The IBI is a tax paid by the owner of real estate and, as we have seen, for usucaption to occur, possession must be held as owner. Therefore, the payment of the IBI by the owner of the property can be proof of possession during the legally established period. In this sense, there are various rulings that have qualified the issue.


On the one hand, several rulings of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (SSTSJC 28/2008, 30/2011, of June 23, 37/2012, of June 11 and 30/2013, of April 15) have established that the fact of appearing as the cadastral owner and paying the IBI does not have sufficient entity to conclude that the possession is as owner or not, but rather an objective element must be added that consists of the existence of unequivocal acts with clear external manifestation in traffic, that is, acting and presenting oneself in the outside world as the effective owner and proprietor of the thing on which the possessory acts are projected. For example, other acts could be added to the payment of the IBI, such as registering the property with other official organizations or renting it as a landlord and receiving an income.


The ruling of the Provincial Court of Madrid of November 6, 2017 states the following in the same sense:


Thus, possession of the property from 1981 to the present is documented, with acts that denote possession as owner and in a public, peaceful and continuous manner< /strong>, with acts such as the construction contract in 1981 with a construction company, the commissioning and payment of the construction project in 1982, the application and payment of the construction license in 1983, or the >IBI payments from 1983 to 2016. Likewise, there is a rental contract for advertising billboards in 2003, appearances by the PSOE before the City Council in files initiated by it, or the periodic cleaning tasks on the property until the present moment…


Therefore, it is not enough to pay the IBI alone to acquire the property by usucapion, but there must be more elements that denote possession as owner in the terms established by law.



What can you do to have ownership of an asset you own recognized?


In the event that you are the owner of real estate and want your ownership to be formally recognized, you must file a judicial procedure and file a lawsuit exercising the declaratory action of ownership against the owner of the real estate or his heirs.


The most important aspect of the procedure is proof of possession during the legally established period. For example, in the case of a home, invoices for supplies, invoices for renovation works on the property and proof of payment of the IBI, among other documents, can be used.


There are many cases, quite frequent, that can lead to a usucapion procedure, for example:


– A fairly common case is that of squatters who enter an empty home and the owner does not initiate legal action, so that, with the passage of time, they can become owners.


– Another common case is that which occurs in inheritances when what is inherited is a home, there are several heirs and there is no will. In these cases there is usually an heir who settles in the house of the deceased and lets time pass, without the rest of the heirs taking any action.


– Finally, another quite common case is that of cultivated land that is abandoned and is owned by the owners of the adjacent land without anyone doing anything.


In short, these are cases in which just the fact of paying the IBI does not give you the right to property, but the legal requirements must be met and there is more evidence of possession over time.





Ana Vila

Ana Vila

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