My mother bought a property in Spain many years ago. The purchase agreement was never recorded at the land registry, and the sale was never signed before a Spanish public notary. The truth is that for years, she has lived on the property without problems, but now that she has passed away, I am told, that I cannot inherit the house because it is registered at the land registry in the name of the person who sold it to her years ago. I have tried to contact this person but it is not possible, and it is very likely that he has passed away. I am the heir of my mother, what can I do?
Dear Reader, thank you for your inquiry.
First, note that it is important to know if you have kept a copy of the sale contract signed between your mother and the owner of the property, and if this contract existed, or if for example, it was just a verbal agreement.
If it is not possible to find the seller or his heirs, or they refuse to recognise the sale and sign it in front of a notary in Spain to make it official (public) so the property can be registered in the name of the real owner; your mother, or in your case, you as her heir, will need to go to court.
If you do not know if the seller is alive or not, it is advisable to claim against him as a registered owner at the Land Registry, but also against his inheritance (herencia yacente) or potential heirs in case he may have died.
Legally, there are several actions that could be filed for, depending on the situation:
1.- Declaratory action of dominion: based on article 348 of the Spanish Civil Code, you could, as inheritor of your mother, the real owner of the property, request that it be declared, that regardless of what appears in the land registry, the real and actual owner is his mother, and ask the court to declare it.
2.- Notarise the sale agreement: also based on article 1279 of the Spanish Civil Code, as heir of your mother, you could ask the seller or his heirs to notarise and confirm in front of a Spanish Public Notary, the agreement signed with your mother, so your rights can be registered at the competent land registry.
There are also other legal actions that could be linked to these types of issues, such as the declaration of the acquisition of the right of ownership though the possession or use, known as usucapio or acquisitive prescription, by which, the property right is acquired by using the property, according to article 1957 of the Spanish Civil Code.
In your case, it is not possible to advise you without studying your situation in detail, but in any case, it is not true that you cannot do anything, as there are various legal actions, which even jointly (cumulative) you can use before the courts, in order to claim your rights to the property, as heir of the real owner, therefore legally recognised and protected.
If you or someone you know is in this or similar situation, please contact us and we will help you.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
White & Baos
Tel:+34 966 426 185
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