Claims resulting from the possession of property are the easiest way of protecting rights to use the property.
In line with a general principle of Polish law, possession cannot be wilfully infringed. Each property possessor such as an owner, tenant, usufructuary or even a possessor not having any legal title to the property can claim the restoration of possession. In the court proceedings the claimant must prove only the latest state of possession and its infringement. The court proceedings on possession protection are designed to be fast and effective, meaning that claims based on possession infringement are assessed relatively quickly.
The court is not entitled to verify any other conditions, in particular the possessor's legal title to the property or his good faith. Counteractions are not permitted, and hence claims can be successfully raised even against the property owner, who is not allowed to prove his rights to the property in such proceedings. If the owner wants to recover the property from the possessor, it has to start a separate action and prove his legal title. However, if the owner is simultaneously a possessor of the property and his possession was infringed, he can benefit from the possession-related claims against any third party.
A claim to restore possession expires if it is not made within one year of the breach. After this time, the possessor has to support his claim in court with a legal title to the property, such as ownership or tenancy, in order to restore possession.
It is worth mentioning that tenants enjoy basically the same level of protection of their right to use the premises as owners. This includes vindication claims if possession of the premises is assumed by a third party, and claims for cessation of other infringements of the tenant's right to use the premises (eg noise or other emissions).
Possession-based claims are often used in daily life, for instance:
- when the landlord blocks access to the tenant's premises due to any reason and without a court verdict, the tenant may request that such access be restored;
- when the landlord cuts off utilities (electricity, water, etc) to the premises, it can be treated as an infringement of possession and the tenant may request that the utilities be restored;
- when someone uses the neighbouring property to access its own property and the neighbour blocks such access, such access might be unblocked, at least temporarily; and
- when someone starts constructing a fence or a building on the neighbouring property, the construction can be stopped under protection of possession claims.