Before diving into the purchase of a property in Croatia, you might want to check out some basic information about a house or apartment first. For example, some properties in Croatia have 23 owners or more, which is a mess most don’t want to get anywhere near with good reason. It’s also vital to know if there are any burdens against the land, as the seller may not disclose that information in good faith.
In this post, we’ll cover exactly how to find out ownership and characteristic information on a property and what it all means.
How can you find out information about a property? There are two ways:
- Uređena Zemlja (Land Registry)
Katastar is a state agency that holds the official data connected to a property such as:
- Katastarska čestica – Parcel number, which serves as an ID for the property
- Size in square meters
- Purpose of the property – This is the type of property such as a residential building, area for livestock grazing, arable land, field, vineyard, garage, elementary school, to name a few examples.
- Person who holds the land – This is usually inaccurate and will not match the land registry. In most cases, the “holder” of the land in Katastar was determined in the 1990s when government representatives would manually ask neighbors who owned the land. Only the land registry can confirm true owner.
Searching for a property in the Katastar
You may look up a property in Katastar here using the parcel number. That link will take you to the English version of their site. Even though it is English, we will provide both the English and Croatian references below.
Once you land on the site, click on “Find cadastral parcel” to search properties (or “Pronađi katastarsku česticu” if searching on the Croatian version of the site). You’ll need to enter the following information into the form:
- Područni ured za katastar – Regional katastar office
- Odjel/Ispostava – Department/branch office
- Katarska opcina – Katastar municipality
- Broj katastarske cestice – Parcel number
Items #1 through #3 have pre-populated drop-down menus you can select from.
What if I don’t have the parcel number? You can look up the parcel number using this interactive map. Zoom in on the map until you locate the property. You’ll see the parcel number laid on top of the map, like in the image below. Once you have this number, you can perform a search on Katastar’s site.
Can I use the parcel number from Katastar to find a property in the land registry? Not always. The parcel number from the Katastar is only the same as the land registry number in about 40% of cases.
If you only have the parcel number from Katastar and it does not match the land registry, you must go to Katastar in person to request the Zemljisnoknjižna čestica (Land registry parcel number), which is the identification number used in the land registry. You can find the closest Katastar office by going here and clicking on “Cadastral offices”. There is not a direct link to their directory.
Uređena Zemlja (Land Registry)
The land registry holds all the records of ownership including:
- Zemljisnoknjižna čestica – Land registry parcel number
- Owner name(s)
- Owner OIB(s) – On listings older than 5 years, OIBs may not be included in the land registry record.
- Owner address(es) – Where they are registered
- Burdens on land
Properties in the land registry have their own ID number called “Zemljisnoknjižna čestica” meaning “land registry parcel”, which is different than the Katastar parcel number in most cases.
Even though these numbers can be different, in 40% of cases the parcel number in Katastar and the land registry are the same, meaning you can use the Katastar number to look up a property in the land registry.
Burdens on land
The land registry record notes any burdens on the land. A burden might be a mortgage or when someone has a right to live on the property, but does not have a right to ownership. It is critical that you know about any burdens on a property BEFORE entering into a purchase contract so that you don’t end up taking on those burdens.
Let’s cover some examples, to further explain situations that constitute a burden.
Example A: A husband dies and leaves his house to his living children. Even though he left the property ownership to his children, he has noted in his will that his widowed wife has the right to live there until she passes.
Example B: You get a mortgage from a bank to purchase a property. The bank will inform the land registry of this mortgage. The total amount of the mortgage will then be noted under burdens. Once the mortgage is paid off, you request a statement from the bank showing that the loan was paid in full so it can be filed with the land registry. Once filed, the burden will be removed from the land registry record.
Example C: Two brothers purchased a plot of land together. We’ll call them Josip and Damir. They split the land down the middle. To reach Damir’s part of the land, Damir has to pass through Josip’s land. Damir’s right to pass through Josip’s part of the land is recorded in the land registry as a burden.
If it is not visible in the land registry, then it does not exist. If no burdens are listed in the land registry, then that means it is free of any burden or legal right. Regardless, you should have a real estate lawyer check out a property before you make the moves to buy it so they can 100% confirm it is free of any burdens, which can save you money and headache later. If you’d like a referral, just contact us.
Searching for a property in the land registry
Once you have the parcel number for the land registry, you can look up the property here. It is not possible to search the land registry online if all you have is the address.
The land registry site sadly does not have an English version, but we provide translations below.
To search for a property, you’ll need to provide:
- Općinski sud / ZK odjel – Municipal Court / Land Registry Department
- Glavna knjiga – City/town
- Broj kat. Čestice – Katastar parcel number
- Broj ZK uloška – Land registry number
- Povijesni pregled – Historical overview
Items #1, #2 and #5 have pre-populated drop down menus you can select from.
Now that you have this information, you can feel more confident on your decision to purchase (or not purchase) a property in Croatia.
If you need help researching a property, our real estate lawyer network can help! We have expat-vetted lawyers across Croatia that can:
- Answer all of your property questions
- Find all Katastar and land registry records for properties of interest
- Clean property titles
- Help you purchase a property
- Ensure you are not taken advantage of by property sellers
- Prepare and review contracts
They can also represent you at a notary’s office as well as with the property seller to coordinate and translate on your behalf. To get help with a property, contact us using the below form:
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.