Changes in law relating to the return of real estate covered by the Warsaw Land Decree
25 January 2021
The purpose of the amendments is not only to remedy violations of the law and their consequences that occurred during and after decisions were issued under the Decree, or to systematize the existing provisions, but above all to limit the restitution of real properties covered by the Decree.
The amended Act significantly extends the conditions for issuing a decision refusing to grant the right of perpetual usufruct to the former owners or their heirs by the following cases:
(i) use of the property for public purposes, such as science, education and culture, or other public interests; and
(ii) selling or granting perpetual usufruct to third parties, establishing or transferring property rights to land, building or part thereof, or letting real property or its part for use against payment, in particular on the basis of a residential lease agreement - regardless of the duration of the civil law relationship with the third party.
Due to the introduction of the last condition for refusal, the former owners or their heirs will generally not be able to claim restitution of real properties that were sold or granted in perpetual usufruct also to perpetual usufructuaries or owners of commercial real estate, expropriated after World War II under the Bierut Decree.
Additionally, the Act changed the procedure for the discontinuation of pending proceedings for granting the right of perpetual usufruct to former owners or their heirs. From now on, pending proceedings for granting the right to real estate under the Bierut Decree will be discontinued, if it is not possible to identify the parties to the proceedings or their addresses when no submissions have been received in the given case within 30 years. The only condition for discontinuance is the announcement by the Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw of a call to take part in the proceedings and failure of any eligible party to join the proceedings within 6 months of the announcement. In the event of a timely joining, the proceedings will be cancelled anyway if the joining party does not prove its rights to the property within the next 3 months. The adopted procedure will allow for the final termination of the proceedings initiated years ago, in which there have been no active parties after 1990.
What is important is that the amendments regarding the restitution of real properties expropriated under the Bierut Decree will also apply to proceedings initiated before the entry into force of the new provisions. Consequently, following the introduced changes, the current private entities, including owners or perpetual usufructuaries of commercial real estate expropriated after World War II under the Bierut Decree, will practically not be able to lose their legal title to the real estate as a result of restitution claims.