The term “mere co-ownership

Multiple persons may be joint owners of an item. The complete item then belongs to the persons jointly and severally, in other words they are co-owners. Co-ownership may be created by law, contract, a random event or a will (Sec. 825 Austrian Civil Code (ABGB)).

Co-ownership in a landed property may exist, for example. The consequence of this is that the building that has been erected on the landed property belongs to a number of persons jointly. Each one individually is a co-owner of the landed property, inclusive of the building. In the case of landed properties, the terms “mere co-ownership” and “condominium ownership” are often conceptually differentiated. In that respect, the co-ownership regulated in the Austrian Condominium Freehold Act (WEG) is a special form of co-ownership.

The co-owners are each assigned an “immaterial share” in the item (e.g. in the landed property). To put it more precisely, the proprietary right, not the item itself, is divided into fractions (e.g. 1/2, 1/10) among the co-owners. Thus, no real parts are assigned to individual co-owners; each one is a co-owner in the entire item.

Should a landed property, for example, be given to two siblings, inclusive of the two-storey building built on it, the siblings will be registered in the Land Register as co-owners, owning one half each. Even if the building has two storeys, it is not, for example, regulated by the co-ownership that the upper storey belongs to one of the siblings and the lower storey to the other. The complete building belongs to both siblings.

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