In a ruling (File No. 22 Cdo 828/2017) handed down on June 8, 2017, the Czech Supreme Court considered buildings that were constructed on the land of third parties, i.e. on land that does not belong to the building owner. The Court focused on cases where the building was erected entirely on the land of a third party before January 1, 2014.

Sections 1084 (2) to 1086 of the Civil Code concern buildings that were unlawfully constructed on a third party’s land. These provisions are based on the Roman law principle of superficies solo cedit (the building belongs to the owner of the ground) and they should be used to resolve cases where that principle applies. This refers specifically to buildings that were unlawfully erected on a third party’s land after January 1, 2014.

These sections of the Civil Code do not, however, cover buildings that were constructed before January 1, 2014. At issue here are buildings that were constructed on a third party’s land before January 1, 2014 based on an unlimited right to build on the land that was later extinguished by statutory changes. Disputes between the owner of such a building and the land owner cannot be adjudicated under the provisions analogous with Section 135c of the Old Civil Code, i.e. Sections 1084 to 1086 of the Civil Code. The same problem applies to buildings erected on land that was owned at the time by the building owner and later transferred to another owner.

If a building was constructed on land then belonging to the building owner, then the building is lawful and its removal from the land should not even be entertained. This remains true even if the land and the building had different owners after the building was constructed. A land owner cannot demand the removal of such a building. Even so, conflicts between the building owner and the land owner will need to be resolved because the building is in fact on the land of a third party and the building owner is using the land without any legal title. Disputes between the parties should be settled under unjust enrichment provisions.

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