Occupation – What it is, definition and concept

Occupation is a concept of law that refers to owning a movable thing without having an owner with the intention of becoming the owner of it, that is, of making it one’s own.

That is to say, in simple terms, occupation is taking possession of something that has no owner.

Occupation is an original way of acquiring property. Why is it said that it is original? Well, it is due to the fact that it is acquired by the behavior and will of the occupant without being related to a previous right.

For example, through the sale of property, the property is acquired, but it is not an original way. It depends on someone else owning that thing and deciding to transfer ownership through a price.

Occupancy characteristics

The main notes that define the figure of occupation are:

  • The occupation does not require that the person occupying it have a specific ability. That is, it is only necessary that it be able to possess. Therefore, they can be minors and people with disabilities.
  • It is regulated in the Civil Code.
  • In order to be recognized as occupation, movable property must not have an original owner. They can be things that have been abandoned, but not lost to someone.
  • Lost things are not governed by the rules of the occupation as they do have an owner. This will follow the rules of the find.
  • The occupation can fall on things and rights susceptible of possession or appropriation, such as servitude.
  • Property in the public domain cannot be occupied. For real estate, they are capable of occupation, but ownership of these real estate cannot be achieved through occupation, contrary to what happens with movable property.
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Occupancy actions

The Spanish civil code gives examples of ways to occupy:

  • The hunt: Animals that do not have an owner can be the object of occupation, in particular game animals: rabbits, wild boars, etc. Hunting is regulated by law. As long as the hunter follows these rules, the hunted pieces will be occupied from their death or capture and therefore their property will be acquired. What animals can be occupied through hunting?
    • Wild or fierce animals.
    • Tamed or domesticated.
  • Fishing: Fish that do not have an owner can also be occupied. They must comply with the fishing law.
    • Fishing in private domain waters belongs to the owner of those waters.
    • Fishing in public waters belongs to the fisherman.
  • Occupation of swarms of bees.

The case of real estate

Real estate can be occupied, but it cannot be occupied as indicated by the legal system, what does this mean? That they can be owned, but that they will not be able to acquire ownership of the property through occupation.

The patrimonial real estate that does not have an owner will belong to the State. All this, according to Spanish regulations.

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