In this article we are concentrating on those issues that require particular attention when buying a house in Spain.
The property law in Spain has many and varied idiosyncrasies that can cause unique problems for the uninformed property buyer.
Given the expense involved in such transactions nowadays, it is crucial that you are aware of them before going ahead with buying a house in Spain or you could end up ‘repenting at leisure’.
As in all such expensive outlays, forewarned is forearmed!
Can I buy a property that is not registered on the Land Registry?
The short answer is yes, but great care must be taken and due diligence carried out before the conveyance takes place.
[See “Is it a good idea to buy unregistered property in Spain?“].
Though nowadays properties are bought through Public Deeds and commonly taken to the Land Registry for inscription afterwards, so that the buyer can obtain a Public title and have the property registered in their name, this is not the reality for most properties in rural areas.
Until recently, property transactions in rural areas were often made only through a private contract and were not subsequently registered in the Land Registry meaning that such persons had no Public title and/or had not got the property registered.
Whilst having your property registered in Land Register is legally not compulsory, it is highly advisable to do so, because once your title is inscribed in the Land Registry no one can challenge your claim to the property. Furthermore, because private contracts are only binding on the parties to the agreement, and not on 3rd parties, you will find it impossible to get a mortgage unless you sign Public Deeds and inscribe them in the Land Register.
Buying a House in Spain… Which is actually not yours.
You might have found the perfect property in Spain to use as a holiday home in a lovely rural area in the mountains, only to discover that the seller has no public title that would allow you to register the property in your name.
This common problem that would make most people think twice and even back out of the purchase, can be resolved with a double title inscription, as per Article 205 of the Spanish Mortgage Law amended by Law 13/2015.
1) In the first step, the seller has to create a new Public title though Deeds in the Notary where the seller should act as legal owner.
For instance signing a Deeds for acceptance of the inheritance, in case the property has been inherited, signing a Deeds where seller gifts the property to a third party (who will become in this case the new owner and subsequent new seller), declaring that the seller has carried out a new construction or works on the property (even if it was carried out many years ago), or any other Notary Deeds that could be registered according to Law, where he could act as a legal owner.
2) The second step involves signing a second set of Deeds, and in this case it must consist necessarily in a real conveyance passing the seller’s title to a third party (conveyance).
Between the first title and the necessary second title with the conveyance, there must be a lapse of one year of difference.
Apart from that, there are some other requirements that must be complied with:
- The property cannot previously have been registered, even partially or in another’s name, so it is very important to check in the Land Registry that no other property with the same or similar dimensions, boundaries and general characteristics has ever been registered in the Land Registry even in someone else’s name.
- The description of the property in both titles (first and second) must match perfectly, so that you can obtain a certificate from the Land Registry stating that no property with the same or similar description can be found in the Land Registry files.
- Ownership in the Cadastre must be registered to the actual seller
- The description of the property has to match exactly with the Cadastre Registry.
In any case, if the property’s real size and boundaries do not match with the Cadastre, it is advisable to make a geo-referenced survey by an expert with the correct measurements of the property, boundaries, etc. in order to be able to change it and then register it correctly in both the Land Registry and Cadastre.
Bear in mind that while the Cadastre is a register for tax purposes, and even though Land Registry uses the Cadastral maps and information, only the Land Registry can provide legal evidence of ownership over land.
If otherwise you do not comply with all these requirements, the Land Registry could reject the inscription of your title.
Following that steps you can buy a property from a seller with no Public legal title registered in the Land Registry and have it duly registered to your name.