The 10-year acquisitive prescription: becoming a real estate owner without buying.
In Quebec, acquisitive prescription is a legal means of acquiring ownership of real estate by possessing it in a peaceful, continuous, public and unequivocal manner for 10 years or more.
How does acquisitive prescription work?
According to the Civil Code of Quebec, for an individual to acquire ownership of real estate by acquisitive prescription, he must meet the following criteria:
- Peaceful possession: The possessor must possess the property without the intervention of an owner or a right holder. This means that possession should be smooth, i.e. there should be no disputes or ongoing disputes regarding possession of the asset.
- Continuous possession: Possession of the property must be continuous, uninterrupted for the required period of time. This means that the possessor must possess the good consistently, without relinquishing possession.
- Public possession: Possession must be public, that is, the acts of possession must be known and visible to others. For example, if the owner carries out work on the property, these must be visible to neighbors or the public.
- Unequivocal possession: Possession must be unequivocal, that is, the possessor must act as if he were the rightful owner of the property. This means that the possessor must have a clear and deliberate intention to possess the property and engage in acts of possession consistent with that intention.
The process of becoming an owner by acquisitive prescription
If the above criteria are met, the possessor may ask the court to declare that he is the lawful owner of the property by acquisitive prescription. The period of time required to acquire property by acquisitive prescription varies depending on the nature of the possession and the type of real estate. For example, if the possessor has occupied the property continuously and peacefully for 10 years, he can request acquisitive prescription.
It is important to note that acquisitive prescription does not apply to all situations. For example, it cannot be used to acquire public real estate or those belonging to government agencies. Moreover, if the true owner has not consented to possession of the property, acquisitive prescription cannot be used.
In conclusion, acquisitive prescription is a legal means of acquiring ownership of real estate in Quebec by possessing it in a peaceful, continuous, public and unequivocal manner for a specific period of time. It is a complex legal mechanism that requires consultation with a lawyer or notary to determine the feasibility of using acquisitive prescription in a given situation.
In order to avoid unpleasant surprises for their clients resulting from the 10-year acquisitive prescription, real estate brokers are responsible for recommending the production of a new certificate of location before a property sale if the one provided is more than 10 years old. Matthieu Pépin, Residential Real Estate Broker for the RE/MAX d’Abord in Estrie Agency, can guide you on the steps to follow before selling or before purchasing a property.
Matthieu Pépin, Real Estate Broker Sherbrooke