Accretion, processing and accession. Acquiring ownership of lost property and found treasures
Accretion is a vesting method set out in Art. 92-93 of the Property Act. According to Art. 92, the owner of the land is the owner of the buildings and plants on it, unless otherwise agreed upon. The accretion is inherently a right, under which the owner of a property acquires ownership of everything that is united or incorporated into their property naturally or artificially. The connection is permanent when carried out in such a way that the property cannot be separated and acquires full independent existence. Only the land owner may acquire the property in such way. Accretion has automatic operation - no declaration of intention is reqired in order for the property law effect to take place.
Incorporation is the primary vesting method. Under Art. 97 of the Property Act: "When another’s property has been incorporated as a part of a main property in such a way that it may not be separated without causing significant damage to the main property the owner of the latter property shall acquire the ownership over the adjoined part as well." Substantial damage would occur upon breaking of walls, interruption of basic installations, etc. The scope of the provision mainly includes cases of accession of movable to immovable property.
Incorporation as a legal fact is expressed by the fact that the owner of the main property becomes owner of the incorporated property. As a result of the incorporation, the owner loses ownership of the incorporated property, however, they are entitled to a compensation from the owner of the main property. Art. 98 of the Property Act establishes a presumption that the incorporation follows the main property in the absence of an agreement to the contrary.
Processing is governed by Art. 94-96 of the Property Act. According to Art. 94, a person who has made a new item out of another's material shall become its owner if the value of the processed item exceeds the value of the material and if the person did not know that the material belonged to another.
In substance, this method requires:
- Development of the property, i.e. a certain employment result that led to the creation of private property.
- The property must be new, have new qualitative characteristics other than the characteristics of its components.
- The value of the development must exceed the value of the materials until the emergence of the property.
These conditions must be fulfilled cumulatively.
When the property is made of materials which belong to different owners, the owner of the property shall be the person to whom the main material belongs (Art. 95 (1) PA). Main is considered the material whose value is greater. If the materials of different owners have the same value, the main material is the one which is greater in amount. If none of the materials may be identified as main a joint ownership over the property shall arise. If the value of the work, however, exceeds the value of the material produced, the producer becomes the owner of what is produced.
Acquiring ownership over lost property
Property relations regarding lost property are governed by Art. 87-90 of the Property Act. According to its provisions, whoever finds a movable property must return it to the owner or to the person who has lost it, after deducting or receiving payment for a reward and expenditures.
Where the owner and the person who has lost the property are not known, the person who has found it must immediately turn it over to the relevant “Municipal Property” office.
If the owner or the person who has lost the property asks for it within one year after it is found, the property shall be handed over to him after payment of a reward equal to 10 per cent of the value of the property plus the expenditures for transporting and storing. The reward may be reduced by the court, taking into consideration the property status of the person who has lost the property or when the full amount of the reward is excessively high.
If the owner or the person who has lost the property is not found or does not appear within one year, the property shall pass into ownership of the municipality. In this case the provision of Art. 78 (2) does not apply.
Items which are perishable or whose maintenance requires major expenses are sold and the amount received is entered under the aforementioned paragraph.
According to Art. 91 of the Property Act, properties buried in the ground, walled in or hidden in another manner, the owner of which cannot be found, shall become the ownership of the state. In substance, this method requires:
- The property to be hidden - its whereabouts must be unknown.
- Its owner must be unknown.
- The propety in question must have historical, artistic, archaeological or other similar value, including under the Monuments and Museums Act.
Whoever finds such items must communicate it within seven days to their municipality or the nearest town hall. The person who has found the treasure is entitled to a reward equal to 25 per cent of its value.