Making improvements to family property


Czech courts consistently rule that if a husband and wife live in a house belonging to one of their parents and perform repairs to the house, improving its value, then when they move out of the house they have the right to the increased value of the property. This increased value is then subject to a joint property settlement if one spouse later becomes the owner or co-owner of the property.

More and more frequently in recent years cases arise where spouses leave their right to the increased value of someone else's property out of their joint marital property, such as if they lived in the property at some point during their marriage without any legal right of use (like a lease agreement). This increased value can also become part of the joint property settlement. After proof of cohabitation has been given and provided that the spouses improved the home, meaning they increased its value (the decisive factor here is the degree of improvement in the form of reconstruction, repairing the roof, exterior, floors, etc., not minor repairs such as painting), the court appoints an expert to determine the value of the improvements and write an expert opinion on the degree of investment the spouses made while living together in the property.

This also applies if one spouse became owner or co-owner of the property owned by their parents. In such a case the claim on the joint marital property is not just against a third-party owner, but against the spouse as co-owner.

For this reason we would strongly recommend that spouses who have no regulation in place for their joint marital property (and so the standard legislation applies) begin keeping records of the repairs and other investments they make in third-party (parents') property where they live. This will give the court-appointed expert the materials it needs to write up the expert opinion on the improvements and give the court itself proof of cohabitation in the house. And of course it can often save the husband or wife quite a bit of money when moving out.