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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Poland

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Considering property investment in Poland is enticing. The market has options such as historic townhouses, lakeside cottages, and city apartments for potential investors to explore.

However, international buyers may find it challenging to navigate the Polish real estate market, particularly when verifying the authenticity and legality of the "Akt notarialny," which serves as the official title deed in Poland.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Poland.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Poland.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Akt notarialny in Poland?

The "Akt notarialny," also known as the "Akt notarialny sprzedaży nieruchomości," is a crucial document in real estate transactions in Poland.

It's a notarized deed, a legal document prepared and authenticated by a notary public. This document is integral to the process of buying or selling property in Poland, serving as the official record of the transaction.

What sets the "Akt notarialny" apart from other property documents in Poland is its formal and legal status. It's not just a contract between buyer and seller; it's a state-verified record that ensures the transaction adheres to Polish law.

This is different from, say, a preliminary agreement or a private contract, which might not have the same legal standing or comprehensive checks.

The legal rights conferred by this document are significant. Firstly, it's a record of ownership transfer, meaning once it's signed and registered, the buyer is recognized as the new legal owner of the property. This is crucial for enforcing property rights and is a legal requirement in Poland for any real estate transaction.

However, it's important to note that the "Akt notarialny" doesn't automatically settle all matters. For instance, it doesn't guarantee the property is free of debts or legal encumbrances; that's something the buyer needs to investigate separately.

In terms of reliability, the "Akt notarialny" is considered very reliable. It's prepared by a licensed notary who ensures that all legal requirements are met and that the document accurately reflects the agreement between the parties.

The notary also verifies the identities of the parties involved and ensures they understand the transaction.

However, there are rights and aspects it does not cover. It doesn't, for example, automatically transfer utility contracts or other service agreements related to the property; these require separate arrangements.

Also, it doesn't exempt the owner from following other legal obligations, such as paying property taxes or adhering to local zoning laws.

Regarding resale and inheritance, the "Akt notarialny" plays a pivotal role. For resale, it's the basis for any future transaction, providing a clear record of the property's legal history.

For inheritance, it's key evidence of ownership, which is essential in legal proceedings. This is particularly important for foreign investors, as it provides a clear, legally recognized document proving ownership, which can be crucial in cross-border legal matters.

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How to verify a title deed in Poland?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of an "Akt notarialny" in Poland is an important step in ensuring the legitimacy of a real estate transaction. To do this, there are specific methods and authorities you can approach.

Firstly, every "Akt notarialny" is prepared and authenticated by a notary public. Notaries in Poland are highly regulated professionals who play a key role in legal transactions, especially in real estate.

If you have doubts about the authenticity of an "Akt notarialny," the first step is to contact the notary who issued the document. The notary's details, including their name and contact information, should be clearly stated on the document.

You can verify their credentials and confirm whether they indeed prepared and notarized that specific document.

In addition to contacting the notary, you can also approach the relevant government bodies. In Poland, the National Council of Notaries (Krajowa Rada Notarialna) oversees the notarial profession. They can provide information on registered notaries and assist in verifying documents notarized by them.

Lawyers can also be a valuable resource in this process. A lawyer specializing in real estate law in Poland can help you understand the legal aspects of the "Akt notarialny" and guide you through the verification process. They can check for any legal inconsistencies or red flags in the document.

Real estate agents, while helpful in many aspects of property transactions, may not be the best resource for verifying the authenticity of a legal document like the "Akt notarialny." Their expertise is more in the market aspects of real estate rather than the legal intricacies.

Now, for identifying red flags and avoiding scams, there are specific things to look out for. One major red flag is a lack of detailed information in the "Akt notarialny."

A legitimate document will have comprehensive details about the property, the parties involved, and the transaction terms. Be wary of vague descriptions or missing information.

Also, check for the official seal and signature of the notary; these are crucial for the document's validity. If the document lacks these, or they appear altered, that's a serious concern.

Another tip is to cross-reference the information in the "Akt notarialny" with other records. For instance, you can check property details with local land registries to ensure they match.

If there are discrepancies between the "Akt notarialny" and official records, this could be a sign of fraud.

What to check

Understanding the history and details of a property in Poland, especially when it comes to the "Akt notarialny," is crucial for a secure real estate transaction. Let's break down the key aspects you need to consider.

To access and trace the property's history records, you should start with the local land and mortgage registries, known as "księgi wieczyste" in Poland. These registries provide detailed information about the property's past ownerships, transactions, and any legal changes over time.

Accessing these records is often possible online via the Central Information of the Land and Mortgage Register (Centralna Informacja Ksiąg Wieczystych). By entering the relevant land and mortgage register number, you can review the property's history.

Understanding this history is important because it reveals the property's legal background, including past ownerships and transactions. This information can highlight potential issues, like a history of disputes or irregular transactions, which might impact your decision to purchase.

Checking for outstanding debts or liens is another critical step. This information is also usually recorded in the land and mortgage registries.

Outstanding debts or liens against the property can be a major concern, as they can transfer to the new owner post-purchase. This means you could become responsible for any unpaid debts or legal claims associated with the property.

Verifying the property's measurements and boundaries as stated in the "Akt notarialny" is also essential. Discrepancies in property size or boundary lines can lead to disputes with neighbors or legal issues.

To verify this information, you can consult the property's cadastral map, available at the local district office (starostwo powiatowe).

If you find discrepancies, resolving them usually involves legal proceedings, possibly requiring a surveyor to provide an accurate measurement and potentially amending the property's registration details.

Finally, understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is crucial. These laws dictate what you can and cannot do with the property.

For instance, a property might be zoned for residential use only, prohibiting commercial development. To find out about these restrictions, you should consult the local urban planning and zoning office (urząd planowania przestrzennego).

They provide information on zoning regulations, building codes, and any future plans for the area that might affect the property.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Poland, you might want to check it out.

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How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Poland?

After purchasing a property in Poland, updating the "Akt notarialny" is a critical step to officially register your ownership. This process involves several specific steps.

Once the purchase is complete and the "Akt notarialny" is signed by both parties in the presence of a notary, the next step is to submit this document to the local land and mortgage registry, known as "księga wieczysta."

This registry records all pertinent information about property ownership and rights. The notary who facilitated your transaction typically handles this submission, but it's important to ensure this step is completed.

The registry then updates the property record to reflect you as the new owner. This process can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the workload and efficiency of the registry office.

Once updated, you receive a confirmation, which is your legal proof of ownership. This updated record in the land and mortgage registry is crucial, as it's the official and public record of your property rights.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, once you've verified the title deed and purchased the property, there are several types of insurance you might consider. The most common is property insurance, which covers damage to the property from events like fire, flood, or theft.

Additionally, liability insurance is advisable, protecting you in case someone is injured on your property. If you have a mortgage, the lender will likely require both types of insurance.

In the context of inheritance laws, especially for foreign owners, the title deed plays a significant role. In Poland, property ownership documented in the land and mortgage registry is a key reference in inheritance cases.

For foreign owners, it's important to understand both Polish inheritance laws and how they might interact with the laws of your home country.

Poland has specific rules about who can inherit property, and these might differ from your country's laws. It's often advisable to consult with a legal expert specializing in international estate law to ensure your property is inherited according to your wishes.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.