Acquisition of ownership by long use. Types of usucapion. Acquisitive prescription and the registry owner. Continued possession.

Some clients come to our Lawyer’s office and explain us quite often a similar situation:

“My and my daughter live in a country house in Denia, and since the first day of we moved there we took care of the plot next door and everyone in the neighbourhood knows about that. Is it possible to get that plot as a legitim owner?”

The answer is yes, it is possible. Nevertheless, some basic requirements must be provided in this situation: we need the peaceful possession, as owner, public, uninterrupted and continuous for a specified period of time.

It is important to understand that a purchase-selling contract is not the only way of acquiring property. There are many ways of acquiring it, among others, usucapion. There are different ways when classifying the usucapion.

Regarding if who appears in the Land Registry, we have two different kinds of usucapion.

In the usucapion secundum tabulas, the usucapion is in favour of the registered owner. In the usucapion contra tabulas, the usucapion is in favour of someone who doesn’t appear as the registered owner.

Is that last situation even possible? It is, indeed: for example, let us imagine that we spent 20 years in a property and, after 10 years, we see that the one who sold us the house is not the one who appears in the Land Registry as the owner.

For these cases the Spanish civil code let us acquire the property although we fight the public and registral information.

The function of the Land Registry is to publicise and get protection of legal real estate transactions. As you can deduct, it would be always easier to claim for the property of any asset when we are the one who appear in the registry and also when we are the one who was possessing the asset.

If we are not the owners in the Land Registry, will mean fighting against registration publicity and will be a more complex and difficult process.

For expert legal advice, contact our law firm, and visit our website:

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, it simply transmits information related to legal issues.

You may be interested in the following articles / services:

How to acquire the Spanish real estate property for its use and possession for a long time. Usucapion. Adverse possession.

What does an owner of a property in Spain need to do, when their property belongs to another person on the Land Registry?

Written by

Carlos Baos (Lawyer)

Lawyer Carlos Baos has been advising on variety of expat-related legal issues for years and weekly column offers free weekly insights.