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

is it possible to claim ownership against the registered owner? the use of the property.

Question about ownership and use:  I live in a country house and I have been taking care of the plot next door for a long time. I look after the garden, prune the trees. Everyone knows that I have been doing this for years.

Can I acquire this plot as an owner?

As we mentioned in a previous article, there are many ways of acquiring property, among others, usucapion. In the last article we spoke about the difference between ordinary and extraordinary usucapion. If you want to have a look on this link.


In this article we will discuss about usucapion and the registered owner: how to claim continued possession. We are going to focus on another way of classifying usucapion: usucapion contra tabulas and usucapion secundum tabulas. What is the difference between the two? On whether the usucapion is made in favour of the registered owner of the property or not. If the usucapion is in favour of the registered owner at the land registry, it is called usucapion secundum tabulas. On the other hand, if it is in favour of a person who is not the registered owner, it is called contra tabulas.


Usucapion secundum tabulas involves acquiring a property in favour of the registered owner. It is the owner who appears in the register, but was not the true owner.

Why? Well, it could be for many reasons. Although it appears in the registry, it could be acquired from someone who was not the previous owner or through a contract that cannot be understood as a valid one, etc.

Despite this situation, time plays a very important role in law. The Spanish Civil Code states that if a person has owned the property for a certain period of time with specific characteristics, he or she can become the true owner of the property.

In this case, the usucapion of the real right in favour of the registered owner is admitted and favoured: the registration is considered a fair title and it is presumed that the registered owner possesses the property peacefully, uninterruptedly and in good faith.


In usucapion contra tabulas, the person who is in possession of the property does not appear as the registered owner in the Land registry. Therefore, there is a conflict between the owner on the register and the possessor who has used it against what is registered.

How can this situation arise? Let us take an example: we buy a house by means of a private purchase contract, but we did not go to the notary, and the deed was not granted. We have lived in this property for 50 years and, after several, we realise that the person who sold us the property does not appear as the owner. If we want to acquire the property by usucapion, we will go against the registered owner of the property that appears in the Register. Therefore, we will have to prove possession for a number of years and, furthermore, that this possession has certain characteristics.

In the next article we will tell you about the problems we could find, in the claims for usucapion against tabulas.

If you believe are facing an usucapion contra tabulas or usucapion secundum tabulas. If you have any question about ownership and use, contact our office and we will help you.

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys information relating to legal matters.

Carlos Baos (Lawyer)

White & Baos.

Tel: +34 966 426 185


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