If you are buying a property in Spain, you must check the community of property owners.
A residents’ association is a legal entity (not independent) composed by the total of the owners of a building (homes, stores and garage) or residential who are in horizontal property regime.
The residents’ associations exist even thought if it hasn’t been created formally since the origin of the horizontal property.
Residents’ associations are regulated by the so-called residents’ association statutes, which is a document that should be written by a residents’ association administration specialist adapted specifically to that property and with the only purpose of deciding about the matters related to the common building to all the owners.
Although the Horizontal Property law regulates the way in which the owners live together (the owner has exclusive rights about his/her home, garage or store and the co-property of the common elements of the building or the housing complex together with the rest of the owners of the other houses).
Despite its importance, this law does not force all the residents’ associations in Spain to have Statutes, the absence of this document usually generates problems in the functioning of residents’ associations. The statutes regulate the cohabitation of the residents’ association and is highly advisable so that the new owners who buy houses know the rules of the housing complex, because in many occasions the residents’ associations can become an endless source of problems.
Our advice is that if you are going to buy a property in Spain, check always the conditions towards the residents’ association to which the property belongs. This will allow you to know your rights, duties and obligations. The foundation title of the residents’ association establishes the characteristics of the property (area, floor, annexed) the fee of your home, garage or store in the total amount of the association and the statutes that regulate the association.
The statutes gather all the rights and duties of the owners as well as the regulations of the common areas and facilities together with the ones of the venues or spaces that the building or housing complex if the exists.
It is also gathered in the statutes the fees related to the general expenses, the payment dues and the criteria for the administration of the accounting of the housing complex. It details when the fees should be paid (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) and how these amounts are paid (by transference, debit receipt…etc) to avoid that the amounts can be charged randomly by the administrator or president. It also gathers information related to the reserve, an amount to consider when transmitting a property because the seller must claim this amount and the new buyer must pay the corresponding amount.
The statutes must be passed with a favourable voting of all the owners, because of that and to avoid future problems that may arise, it is very common for the developer to constitute the residents’ association and write the statute and pass them once the building is done and prior to the selling of the public deed to the buyers.
All the owners must preserve in good conditions their homes and they are forced to allow the entrance to them to make the necessary reparation for the correct maintenance of the common areas if it was necessary to enter their property to carry out any work, being also a duty of the residents’ association to carry out the necessary works for the good preservation, habitability and security of the property.
If you are thinking about making a work that may affect some exterior or interior architectural element, you must always inform the administrator because works can never put at risk the safety of the building or affect other owners. In event that they affect the façade (as balcony glazing or a deck) you should previously check the statutes in case that some regulation exists that you should obey.
The statutes should gather limitations to the colours of exterior paintings, forbidden activities that are not allowed in the houses (business activities in some cases and of course damaging or injurious activities), regulations regarding the existence of pets, noises, etc.
You should ask prior the purchasing, a copy of the statutes which regulate the residents’ association to which the property that you are thinking to acquire belongs. You should also ask for a summary of the last general residents’ association meeting, where you can check the proper functioning of the association and be sure that you are buying a property in a place where it is worth living, without previous problems that you may not know and that will allow you to enjoy your new property with calm from the first moment.
In any case, having or not having association statutes, you should always ask the seller a certificate of the association, sealed and with date of the last month that justify to be up to date with the payment of all the fees and with enough value to give to the notary the day of the buying and selling deed. This certificate is compulsory for the public deed.
The amount of the annual fee that should be paid to the association must be considered with the total amount of the expenses that you should face when buying the property.
The fees charged annually by your community of property-owners in order to maintain the community need to be factored into the annual running costs of your Spanish Property. These fees might be between 1.000€ a year for a small flat or more than 12.000€ a year for a luxury villa on an elegant neighborhood in Marbella.
By Massimo Filippa
Information given is offered for information purposes, excluding the company and the author from all responsibility, not constitute an official publication nor will it be binding. We always recommend check with your lawyer or adviser.