Buying a Property in a Community in Spain

5 August, 2019

Understanding Communities in Spain

Community properties in Spain are ones that share common areas or elements with other property owners. Community properties can include all manner of dwellings, such as apartments, villas or townhouses, but have a facility or area that is shared and communal.

In Spain, many homes are community properties apart from those that are completely detached and are on a private plot of land. This means community properties could share anything from a golf course and swimming pool to a hallway, lift, stairwell or garden. This means that when you buy a community property, you become part of a Community of Property Owners.

Being part of the Community of Property Owners means you will not only be responsible for your individual areas, but you are also responsible for maintaining the common areas too. Usually, this is by paying for the expenses of the upkeep on a pro-rata basis.
These are known as Community Fees.

Different community properties will vary their terms, payments and costs so it is essential to know what to look for when buying a community property.

Advantages of owning a community property include;

Security - Your home is part of a community, it could be in a Gated Community. Have 24 hr. Security and CCTV

Social Interactions - Being part of a community means that it's a great way to meet new people and build relationships with your neighbours.

Reduced Responsibilities - With your garden and pool being part of a shared area they are taken care of as part of the community costs for upkeep. The Community or its Administrator will employ Gardeners and take care of all external Maintenance of the properties and Swimming Pool.

Lower Taxes - A community property will typically have cheaper property taxes than a detached home.

Upgrade Your Living Standards - Community properties can allow you to live with more amenities at hand – swimming pool, children’s area, tennis courts, spa, and gymnasium than you would if you had a private plot and sole ownership.

Structure of the Community of Owners and Management

Typically, a Community of Property Owners will use two methods of management for the community. Firstly, a community will designate a member of the community for specific roles. There could be an election of a president and a vice president, for large communities there may be a need for a treasurer and a secretary too.

For every community, it must be registered with the Gobernador Civil, with Spanish documents submitted.

Alternatively, communities may refer the daily running to an Administrator who can take control of calculating costs and ensuring every member pays their required fee. This will usually mean an added charge payable to the Community, but they are controlled and regulated by a professional body for peace of mind.

The Existing Community President or Administrator will announce to all Owners the date of its forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) to include an Agenda and Accounts.

It is at this meeting that Presentation of Accounts and forthcoming Budget are announced and a request for approval made.

Those wishing to run for the various offices such as The President, Vice President and Committee are proposed and seconded, in to ensure the Community is being run and controlled in a satisfactory manner. Similarly the existing Administrator has also to be proposed and voted in.

This is the moment when Changes can be made.

The new Budget will determine the Community fees for the coming year.

It is important that you as an Owner try to attend these meetings as you have the right to suggest or question anything on the Agenda or during AOB (Any Other Business)

Understanding Community Fees

Every member of the community will be responsible for paying their share for the maintenance and upkeep of the communal areas. Usually, the cost will be based on the owner's share, and this is typically the size of the property that they own.
You can find the percentage that you would have to pay in the property deed. The portion will also account for the sway and rights of voting in community meetings.

The fees can be incredibly varied and can cover a lot of aspects such as 24 hr., security, a cleaner, gardener, maintenance, insurance, pool cleaning, Internet and satellite TV.
Ensure that you can see the quality and that you get what you pay for.

Holiday Rentals in the Community

There has been a change in the law regarding Holiday rentals in Communities – Modification to the Horizontal Law Article 17.2 – known as the A Royal Decree Law 7/2019 of March 1st, whose title is “Urgent Measures in Housing Rentals”
Basically this modification establishes that a Community can prohibit owners using their apartments for Short Term Rental, provided that the Community agrees by a minimum of 60% of the total Owners
It also establishes that the same majority of Owners can decide to increase the Community fees of those Owners using their properties for Holiday rental use up to a Maximum increase of 20% , this only applies for Short term Holiday rentals and NOT Long term agreements.

Non-Payment of Community Fees

Some communities have suffered from debt problems as members do not pay their fees, With this in mind, a new Community Law was set up to help to remove property owners who don't pay their fees.
Once a demand is issued by the President of the Community of Property Owners Administrator then legal proceedings take place which means that it can be taken to court.

The case will be submitted to a judge, they will ask the debtor to pay the amount within a set period, usually 20 days. If the debtor doesn't pay, then an embargo is placed on the property, and the property can be sold at auction if the debt remains unpaid.

With this in mind, if you plan to have a property in Spain which you won't be at regularly, then you need to make sure you have a system in place to pay the community fees, so you don't face a legal battle because of unpaid fees.

Essential Checks to Make When Purchasing a Community Property

Before buying a community property some key considerations to check include;

What are the fees for your property?

How big is the community?

What facilities do you receive?

What do the fees cover?

What are the rules and regulations?

Is it well managed?

By considering these points, you can evaluate exactly how the Community is performing and if it is the Right Community for you.

Kind Regards
John Stephenson Andalucian Properties

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