Acquisitive prescription

According to article 2910 of the Civil Code of Quebec, a right of ownership may be acquired by the mere effect of possession.

One of the most frequent examples is the farmer who would cultivate his land, as well as the adjacent lots, without worrying about the titles of ownership.

Regardless of the good or bad faith of the “possessor”, in certain circumstances, possession may result in the acquisition of ownership of all or part of a lot, even a parking space.

However, the conditions on possession of land by acquisitive prescriptions are demanding given the importance of the issue at stake.

First, possession must have taken place for a period of at least 10 years, according to article 2917 of the Civil Code.

More importantly, one must consider the circumstances as well as the nature of the possession.

To be effective, article 922 of the Civil Code of Québec requires that possession be peaceful, continuous, public and unequivocal.

Obviously, acts of possession done underhandedly, such as camping for a few nights, will not produce any effect.

More importantly, it is essential that all the conditions of article 922 be met in order to claim to have acquired property by acquisitive prescriptions.

The legislator has even taken the time to specify, in article 927 of the Civil Code of Quebec that thieves, receivers and scammers may not claim to have acquired property by acquisitive prescriptions.

It is also important to look at the legal situation that prevailed at the beginning of possession.

Indeed, possession does not have to have a cause.

In all cases, it should be noted that acts of pure faculty or mere tolerance cannot be the basis for an acquisitive prescription.

It is also important that the possession or holding of the property has a certain character of exclusivity.

Finally, the law also provides, in article 925 of the Civil Code of Québec, the possibility of attaching the useful possession of its author in order to establish ten-year possession.

Once the limitation period has expired, the possessor would be entitled to take legal action in recognition of a right of ownership.

For more information, do not hesitate to consult us.

Vanessa Low-Ken
Legal technician
Charland Avocat Inc.
Centropolis Laval
500-3055, boul. Saint-Martin Ouest
Laval (Québec) H7T 0J3
Phone: (450) 934-8700
Fax: (450) 934-8748