Redesigning Procedures to Encourage Legal Recognition of Informal Relations to Property: The Case of “Informal Inheritance” in Kosovo’s Intergenerational Context

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

This paper examines “informal inheritance” cases when de facto owners do not initiate formal inheritance proceedings. Delays in initiating inheritance proceedings, and the growing number of claimants spanning several generations of heirs as a result—many of whom live outside of Kosovo—creates further difficulties to formalize property ownership. The resulting discrepancy between cadastral records and informal ownership contributes to tenure insecurity. The USAID Property Rights Program has assisted the Government of Kosovo to amend the laws on inheritance, notaries, and uncontested procedure to provide an efficient mechanism to initiate inheritance claims, and expedite inheritance proceedings initiated many years after the death of the right holder. The legislation also introduces due process safeguards to protect the rights of women and children. This paper analyzes factors that have exacerbated the discrepancy between cadastral records and informal ownership and, subsequently, examines the recent legislation introduced to expedite recognition of rights that may then be registered in the cadastre.

Key Words: Informality; Inheritance; Notaries; Courts; Efficiency; Due Process; Notice; Cadastral Registration; Women’s Property Rights