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All real estate properties are entered in the land register. The land register is a public register under the cantonal authority. It provides information on owners and property rights (ownership, easements and land encumbrances, notes, and collateral).
Most cantons have their own land registers, divided either by area or district. A property is registered in the area or district where it is located.
The land register is not only one register; it actually is made up of a number of elements (general ledger, journal, evidence, maps) and additional registers (register of creditors, register of owners, register of collateral, register of corrections, register of buildings).
To have legal effect, the sale and purchase of any real estate property must be entered into the land register.
Furthermore, agreements for the transfer of ownership are valid only if received in the form of a deed, meaning that a qualified person, generally a notary, certifies that the signers have read and accepted the agreement.
Easements are encumbrances imposed on a property in favour of another property which require the land owner to suffer certain types of use or to abstain from exercising certain rights inherent to ownership on the part of the owner of the dominant land.
Easements are entered in the land register as encumbrances or rights. For instance, the right of way granted to others constitutes an encumbrance, whereas the right of way by others constitutes a right.
Land encumbrances oblige the current owner of the land to provide certain services to a third party (for example, payment of an annual subscription for the maintenance of a road).
Notes are personal rights such as the right of pre-emption, the right of purchase, leaseholds, etc. They can be entered in the land register.
Each property receives a file and a particular number. The general ledger is composed of all of the files of real estate properties. Only what is entered into the general ledger is enforceable.
No right of ownership or even property collateral exists unless it is entered in the general ledger.
All requests for entry submitted are recorded in the journal (before they are entered in the general ledger) in the order of submission, with an indication of the date and time of their submission.
At the same time, each request is provided with a sequence number. No right is created nor effective until an entry is made in the general ledger, albeit with a retroactive effect as at the time of entry in the journal.
Every right (for example, the right of way) comes only with a summary description in the general ledger.
In fact, the substance and exercise of a right are detailed in evidence, such as purchase or collateral agreements.
Maps provide a geometrical description of real estate properties. They are therefore obligatory.
Register of creditors
This register is not part of the land register: it is considered an additional register.
The creditor entered in the land register is the one who was active at the time of creation. Hence, the land register cannot precisely state the current creditor of collateral.
The register of creditors maintained by the land register contains the name and address of the collateral holder. Yet, the creditor is not obliged to have their name entered in this register.
Those who are entered in the land register will receive all land registry communications required by law (for example, a notice of assumption of debt provided for in a purchase agreement).
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