When a villa is being purchased in Spain then the legal responsibilities of the owners may often end at the boundaries of their residence. However, it is more usually the case, especially in Spain, that the property is an apartment or a detached residence within an urbanization.
The owners of property within residential complexes that provide shared amenities for example a porter service, lifts, swimming-pools and grounds maintenance etc. are responsible financially to maintain those shared facilities.
To manage such matters each building complex or urbanization has a Community of Owners which will have a President and a Secretary and will hold meetings each year to discuss and decide on issues of mutual interest regarding the maintenance of the community fixtures and amenities.
There are a number of important aspects of this responsibility and to make sure that new owners of property in Spain are aware of these issues. Each Community of Owners is regulated by the ‘Ley de Propiedad Horizontal’ legislation of 1960, as revised by legislation in 1999.
Upon purchasing a property in an urbanization the new owner also becomes the owner of a fraction of the common areas of the complex. The common areas are split into hundredths and each owner has a specific number allotted to them typically according to the size of the property that they own in the complex.
Of course with ownership comes responsibility and there is an annual fee to be paid in order to maintain all of the common areas and amenities. The fee paid by each owner corresponds to the number of shares in the complex that they have been allotted. The number of shares that have been allotted to each property can be discovered by checking the title deeds of the property.
The annual general meeting held each year is when the officers of the community are elected and when they must provide the yearly accounts which describe in detail how the fees have been spent in the previous year and the budget for the following year is set.
The basic objective of the annual meeting is to decide on all of the most important questions that impact on the organization and functioning of the community. Six days notice must be given to each owner regarding the holding of a general meeting.
The decisions of the meetings are taken by a vote with each owner’s vote being weighted according to the number of shares they have been allotted in the community. A simple majority is normally sufficient for most decisions and if an insufficient number of owners attend the meeting to provide that majority a second vote may be held half an hour later that only requires a simple majority of those present.
The decisions reached must be written down in minutes and a summary of the decisions must be sent to each owner for it to have effect in law. If an owner has an objection to any decision they must formally protest within 30 days.
Obligations of the Community of Owners
The community of owners is obliged to carry-out the building work and repairs necessary from time to time to adequately maintain the fitness for purpose of all buildings with particular regard being had to structure, safety, accessibility and habitability. Any owners who object to or delay the carrying-out of such repairs can be held personally liable for any administrative penalties suffered by the community.
The community is also required to carry-out alterations necessary to provide access to the building for any disabled person or persons over seventy years of age who are living there where the cost does not exceed the amount of three month’s community fees.
A common issue that can affect communities of owners is the failure of one or more of the owners to pay the annual community fee. It becomes the responsibility of the community to pursue such debtors, eventually via the courts if necessary. Before getting to that point the community must have reached the decision to deal with the debtor at a legally convened meeting and have communicated this decision to the debtor-owner in the prescribed manner.
Owners Obligations – Private Property
Each property owner may make those alterations they consider appropriate to their property as long as no alterations are made to the common structure of the building, nor any detrimental impact on the properties of the other owners.
Property owners may not carry out any activities (or professions) within their dwellings that are prohibited by the statutes of the community of owners or which may be described as dangerous, damaging or detrimental in general.
Any other owner may formally complain to the President of the Community of Owners about any such activity whereupon they President shall request the immediate cessation of all such activities before initiating legal measures approved by a meeting of the community of owners.
Each owner should also maintain their property in a good state such that no damage is caused to other properties as a result of failure of any installation in their property.
Recent Advocate Abroad property lawyer reviews as added by clients directly to the Wufoo client survey platform:
- George Salib, LondonMonday, April 23, 2018Jose Antonio was very professional and has assisted me in every step of the purchase of my flat in Alicante.
He also assisted me by advising of the most suitable area according to my needs. His com...mitment and dedication is excellent.
Jose Antonio was very easy to approach and happy to help in any way he can.
I will definitely recommend him to my family and friends.
- Pernilla, LondonFriday, April 13, 2018We had excellent service from Esther at Advocate Abroad when buying a property in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Esther speaks both Spanish and English, and is very friendly, professional and genuine. ...She took care of the whole purchasing process and explained all the steps for us, including giving advice on Spanish bank account, NIE numbers etc.
We are very pleased with all the help we have received and can highly recommend Esther. Thank you so much!
- L Marshall, LondonWednesday, March 28, 2018Rosa was excellent. Very efficient and professional.
Responsive and always available. Extremely helpful - we did not understand the process and she guided us through.
We would not hesitate to ...recommend her.
- Robert Scott, UKWednesday, March 07, 2018First class service. Rosa's professionalism, advice and patience were all exemplary! Keep up the good work. Will certainly recommend the service to friends!
- M Pearce, MarbellaMonday, March 05, 2018Miguel was extremely helpful, he couldn't have done more:
Always kept us updated on the progress of our purchase
Always responded to emails in a professional and timely manner
Always explained to... our understanding all aspects of the legalities about the purchase
Very approachable,courteous and professional
So much better to deal with than UK property lawyers!
- Andrew Bullen, UKFriday, February 16, 2018Rosa was very professional at all times when dealing with me. Her English was second to none and she always kept me informed of progress via email promptly.
I wouldn't hesitate to use Rosa in the ...future for any legal issues I have.
- Tamara Reeves, AustraliaThursday, February 15, 2018Anna was very knowledgeable and had prior experience dealing with English clients. She spent a lot of time explaining information and I was never rushed.
I have continued to use Anna since my firs...t meeting as I trust her judgement and know that she will look after my best interests.
- Lisa Jones, UKThursday, January 25, 2018Kristina was extremely helpful throughout the process of buying my property in Spain. She was very easy to reach at all times and very professional. I would highly recommend Kristina to anyone buying ...a property in the area.
- Jackie Acres, UKThursday, January 25, 2018Miguel is fantastic, his English is superb. He responds clearly and concisely and always quickly too.
He is helpful and approachable and has always answered all my questions very thoroughly. He’...s very polite and an absolute pleasure to deal with.
I hope he never retires!
- Yuka Mizota Lockey, Kent, UkMonday, January 22, 2018Olga responded promptly and efficiently. She was accommodating in terms of arranging meetings. She was really knowledgeable, diplomatic when dealing with our estate agents and was dedicated to our int...erests.
All my family found Olga very approachable, professional and we were grateful to have someone who could explain and guide us through a process that is foreign to us.
- Norman McElroy, Northern IrelandThursday, January 18, 2018Erardo was very professional, always available and most courteous in all the dealings I had with him. I would be happy to recommend Erardo to anyone.
- Gearóid Foyle, LondonFriday, January 12, 2018Emma was bilingual, helpful and always happy to assist. In particular, I appreciated her approachability and understanding. I would definitely use her services again.
- Larry Karns, ValenciaWednesday, January 10, 2018Inma is a very approachable, open and knowledgeable professional.
She is available to meet with us on short notice, is attentive to our needs, answers each of our questions fully and provides appr...opriate legal solutions.
Inma is bilingual which has simplified communication and avoids misunderstandings. Her fees are definitely value for the money paid, and we will continue to seek her professional services.
- DP, United StatesWednesday, January 03, 2018He has been very attentive, efficient, and always anticipates our needs in a timely manner. We enjoy working with him and look forward to other future business arrangements when needed.
- Delphine Harrison, EnglandThursday, December 21, 2017Jose was excellent from my initial contact to the exchange of the contracts, always responding quickly to my emails even out of work hours, very professional and understanding.
Jose made the whole... experience stress free and quite enjoyable, I would highly recommend him for anybody needing legal advise or business abroad.
- Tim Burley, MallorcaFriday, December 15, 2017A very strange phenomenon with lawyers in Spain - she was working for me rather than just trying to line her own pockets!
- Theo Kleynhans, Castellón de la PlanaTuesday, December 05, 2017I always felt safe with Lidia. She knows what she is doing and was extremely professional and helpful.
I think she was priced perfectly and I believe that she always understood me. I will recommen...d her with ease. She will remain my spanish Lawyer.
- YB & CB, ScotlandThursday, November 30, 2017Our lawyer Rossana has really looked after our interests in the most comprehensive way possible.
As novice property purchasers in a foreign land, she has done everything (including things we could... not imagine as necessary due to our ignorance of local laws, customs & practices) to keep us free from unforseen trouble!
We have been impressed to such a degree and now have so much confidence in Rossana that we have arranged for her to have ongoing Powers of Attorney, so that she may represent our interests in our absence. She is a most impressive lady!
I have not the slightest hesitation in recommending her, based on our direct experiences.
- Nigel Griffiths, UKWednesday, November 29, 2017My situation was complicated because the correct documentation was not done at the time of sale....
Rosa contacted the purchaser and arranged to receive all the information required to submit to th...e Spanish authorities.
Without Rosa, whose understanding of English (which was perfect),I would have had serious problems.We were kept informed at all stages of the process, by phone and e-mail.
I cannot recommend Rosa to highly,...she was fantastic.
Thank you Rosa.
- Arthur & Patricia Chamberlain, Palma de MallorcaFriday, November 17, 2017Rosa understood what we wanted and carried out our instructions very professionally. Gave us confidence in her abilities.
- Jane Armstrong, Playa Flamenca, SpainWednesday, November 15, 2017Carmen was efficient and professional at all times. Always available to help and advise. Would definitely recommend.
- Bruce Moore, United KingdomTuesday, October 31, 2017Complete confidence and removed any hassle from the process. Even better was the willingness to provide follow up support and guidance. A great service!
- Graham & Josephine Flinders, UKThursday, October 26, 2017Rosa is a excellent lawyer and a extremely nice person, very efficient and helped us though the sale of our apartment.
It all went very smoothly and it was mostly down to Rosa who dealt with anyth...ing that came up in a very professional manner. Rosa explained all what was happening in English and always returned our calls with any answers to our questions.
Her fees are very very reasonable and we felt we got real value for money, we cannot recommend Rosa enough.she is a throughy nice approachable person.We would not hesitate using Rosa again and have recommended her to other people in majorca.
- David Gough, Villamartin,Wednesday, October 18, 2017We found Carmen to be very approachable and professional - she guided us all the way through the process of buying our property always available to answer our many questions either by phone or email. ...
The cost of this service was very reasonable and after the sale was complete she then went on to complete our Spanish wills expertly guiding us through the Spanish inheritance laws.
We would not hesitate to use her services again in the future or to recommend her to friends.
- Paul Pears & Gareth Roberts, CádizThursday, October 05, 2017We found Francisco to be extremely professional and responsive to any questions we had, completely understood our needs and assisted with appropriate solutions to everything we needed.
In fact he ...goes the extra mile to ensure everything is correct down to the micro details. Nothing was too much trouble.
We have never received such good and efficient service from a Lawyer!
- Peter Brumder, EnglandWednesday, October 04, 2017Alvaro has always been very approachable and friendly and I value his judgement and advice.
Alvaro has taken away the headaches associated with a property abroad and has helped me with all my probl...ems including payment of bills, decorating and taxes.
I couldn't have coped without him
- Sarah Finnagan, EnglandThursday, September 21, 2017Francisco was fantastic and helped me through every single step and helping understanding everything.
Price was very reasonable i have no complaints at all.
Very easy to get hold of and very qu...ick at responding would definitely go back to him - thankyou so much Francisco for everything.
- David Bird, EnglandThursday, September 21, 2017Our lawyer Carmen was absolutely fantastic in everything. Brilliant!
- Dariush Mirzajani, ScotlandTuesday, September 12, 2017My solicitor was very honest and helpful. I am recommending him to my friends on their legal matters - everything was above my expectations.
- Graham & Karen Pell, Nottingham EnglandTuesday, September 05, 2017I found Erardo very approachable, he always answered all the questions that we asked of him quickly, giving us all the information we needed.
He offered a good value for money service & met with u...s anytime we needed assistance, but did provide most of the information we needed by e-mail (which were all in good quality of our language - English).
I would use Erardo again to do other legal matters & would not go elsewhere e.g. writing our Spanish wills etc. We would recommend him to others if asked.
Owners Obligations Regarding Common Areas
Any area of the building or urbanization that is not reserved for the exclusive use of any of the individual owners is by definition a common area, available for use by all. Common areas are normally one of four possible types:
1) Physical structures (foundations, pillars, floors, façades)
2) Installations, Conduits (Electrical installations, Guttering)
3) Community Areas (Swimming-pools, playgrounds, gym areas)
4) Service Areas
Each property owner has the right to use and enjoy common areas of the building or urbanization in common with the other property owners. However, they may not alter any common area and if there is an urgent need to repair a common area this should never be undertaken privately but communicated to the administrator of the community.
Property owners must consent to access to their private property where necessitated to carry out work necessary to maintain common areas.
Should the community vote to install common telecommunication equipment they may not insist that those owners who voted against should pay a proportional part of the cost. However, should those who voted against the installation decide at a later date that they wish to benefit from it then they may do so by paying the requisite amount with legal interest added.