10 years - 20 years - 30 years

If you take possession of the real estate, the real owner can claim his property back. But after 30 years of uninterrupted possession by somebody else, the real owner has no more right to claim back his property. 30 years is the maximum period of prescription in Belgian law in 2005.

If you buy real estate, or if real estate is given to you, you do have a title. That makes your situation different from the situation of somebody who just takes possession of the real estate owned by somebody else. Especially if you have a title of ownership of real estate and obtained that title by trusting the person who sold the real estate to you or who gave the real estate to you. You title and good faith give you a right to a shortened period of prescription.

The Belgian Civil code provides a special shorter prescription for persons who have a title and had good faith (fraus omnia corrumpit) when they obtained their title. Somebody who has obtained by title (in good faith)  the property of somebody else who isn't the real owner, and who has possession during a shortened period of prescription, can become the new owner if the following period of prescription has been respected by him:

1. In case the real owner of the real estate has his residence in the same local legal area as where the real estate is situated, the person with a title obtained in good faith, has a perscription of 10 years to become the new owner of the real estate. From then on the real owner, will no longer be able to claim back his property with good result.

2. In case the real owner of the real estate doesn't have his residence in the same local legal area  as where the real estate is situated, the person with a title obtained in good faith, has a perscription of 20 years to become the new owner of the real estate, because after 20 years the previous real owner of the real estate will no longer be able to clain back his property with good result.

In case the real owner of the real estate has changed his place of residence during the period of shortened prescription, the the period of prescription will be claculated accordingly between 10 and 20 years.

In Belgium the normal period of prescription to obtain the property of real estate if you don't have a title of you don't have good faith, is 30 years.

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