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English speaking lawyers in Malaga (Andalucia / Costa del Sol) specialized in urban & rustic property law

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INHERITANCE TAX IN SPAIN: WE ARE ALREADY EUROPEAN!

Inheritance tax, Spain, legal advice

Inheritance tax, Spain, legal advice

In our post of last March on Inheritance and Donation Tax, we discussed about the fact that European non-resident citizens in Spain were experiencing discrimination against resident citizens, because, under the same circumstances, they had to pay more taxes than resident taxpayers.

This unequal treatment happened when the deceased or beneficiaries were non-resident in Spain and they paid taxes in conformance with a State regulation which was more detrimental than the regional one, which was only applied to resident citizens.

This discrimination was confirmed by the European Court of Justice ruling dated 03rd of September 2014, which resolved this issue and established that Spain was infringing the free movement of capital within the EU, because of this separate treatment between resident and non-resident citizens.

On the 1st of January 2015, in order to comply with the aforementioned judgment, the amendment of the State Inheritance Tax regulation has entered into force in Spain. A special scheme has been introduced in regards of the Inheritance Tax, so that non-resident citizens in Spain who are European residents may apply the regional regulation as residents already do, equating their situation.

This new regulation establishes that in the event that the deceased is a European non-resident in Spain, the European non-resident beneficiaries may apply the regional regulation where the most valuable assets are located in Spain. If the beneficiaries are resident in Spain, the regional regulations where they reside shall be applicable.

If the deceased has been a resident in a Spanish region and the beneficiaries are non-resident in Spain, the non-resident beneficiaries shall pay inheritance tax in conformance with the regional regulations where the deceased resided.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that the collection of the Inheritance and Donation Tax in Spain is assigned to regional governments, so that they are free to set forth their own regulations.

The effect of this assignment is that the amount to be paid for this tax by Spanish residents may significantly vary depending on the region where they live. In fact, a fiscal “war” has arisen between regional governments as regards of this tax, because some people have decided to establish their residence in regions with a more favourable tax scheme in order to pay fewer taxes for inheritance and donations, particularly those with more valuable estates.

The most recent and famous case in Andalusia was that of the late Duchess of Alba, who was sentimentally related to Andalusia but not fiscally, because her residence for tax purposes was in Madrid. The main benefit of this fact is that her beneficiaries have had a tax saving of more than 90 million Euros in the Inheritance Tax.

Since non-resident citizens will also enjoy the same Inheritance Tax regulation than resident citizens and considering that the regulation to be applied is that of the region where the most valuable assets are located, this unequal treatment between regions will also affect them.

However, imagine that you are a non-resident in Spain, do not have any property, but you have some money in a bank entity in Spain. In this case, which regulation shall be applicable for your beneficiaries? It seems that the applicable regulation shall be that of the region where the bank registered office is located. Thus, it is not the same a bank entity with registered office in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, for instance. It has been said “it seems” above, because a definitive answer has not been obtained when contacting the Tax Administration Office in respect of this issue.

In short, these are good news for European foreign citizens and their beneficiaries, and welcome to the regional regulatory “chaos” in respect of Inheritance and Donation Tax.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors, Málaga.

SPANISH INHERITANCE TAX: POSSIBLE CONDEMNATION AND CHANGES

Inheritance taxLast 27th of March 2012, the European Commission pursued an action against Spain for the breach of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Agreement on the European Economic Area, as a result of the discrimination in respect of the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, since non-residents pay more taxes than residents under the same personal conditions.

Spanish inheritance tax is managed by Spanish autonomous regions, so there are significant differences from one region to another in respect of this taxation. Each regional administration has regulated this tax in a different way. However, if the taxpayer is a non-resident, the Central State Tax Administration Office is the competent body to collect this tax payment instead of the regional government tax office. Regional government regulations are much more favourable for taxpayers than central government tax rules, since regional administrations have established tax exemptions and reductions for the inheritance and gift tax.

However, these discriminatory situations between residents and non-residents in Spain also arise between residents of the different autonomous region. In fact, last 8th of May 2013, a court order from the Spanish Supreme Court established the illegality of the inheritance regulations of the Valencian autonomous region, because these regulations allow heirs residing in this region to benefit from tax reductions against those residing in other Spanish regions who do not enjoy from this benefit.

It is expected that in the future the Spanish Constitutional Court itself rules in this respect. Furthermore, upon consideration of this inequality legal situation, it is likely that the inheritance tax may be reformed in the medium and long term in order to balance differences among the different Spanish autonomous regions.

Regarding the action against Spain, last 8th of January the hearing for this proceedings was held before the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is very likely that a judgment may be pronounced in a few months in regards of this case. If this court order condemns Spain because of this discrimination, it may give rise to a right for reimbursement of undue taxes paid to all those non-residents in Spain who paid in the last 4 years the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, provided that this payment had been higher than the tax payment corresponding to residents belonging to this Spanish region under the same circumstances.

Taxpayers may claim within 4 years. This period starts to run from the date of tax payment. For this reason, in the event of a possible ruling condemning Spain in this regard in the following months, it is very important that all those non-residents in Spain, who paid inheritance and gift tax in the last 4 years,  check if their payment was higher than the one made by a resident in the same Spanish region. If that were the case, they should claim for the refunding before the end of this 4 years period. Once this period expires, they will not be entitled to it. The submission of this tax refund claim shall stop the 4 years expiry date while it is decided if Spain is condemned for this issue.

Our law firm is at your disposal to assist you in this matter. We would offer you our service on the basis of a “no win-no fee agreement” for the submission of the aforementioned tax refund claim before the Tax Authorities, that is, you would pay nothing to us if the public administration declines this first claim.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

RECENT CONTROVERSIAL DEMOLITION OF TWO PROPERTIES

Solicitor, Malaga, Torrox

Solicitor, Malaga, Torrox

Last Monday October 14th, the Regional Andalusia Government Junta de Andalucia carried out the demolition of two houses which  were built without construction permit on non-developable land in the rural area of Las Terreras, in the municipality of Las Canteras, Almeria.

In this case, the developer did not have construction permits to build both properties. This is a different situation from that explained in our blog post in March, but there are also involved third parties in good faith, who bought the aforementioned properties to the developer/seller. The demolition of these properties means the infringement of a fundamental property right according to the interpretation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which has demanded that:

-          People affected by court or administrative proceedings which may imply the loss of their assets shall have the effective and real opportunity to defend their situation.

-          Property loss due to general interest—for example, the compliance of planning legality over ownership of assets—shall be previously compensated to the owner.

Therefore, upon consideration of this European case law, it is not sufficient that in these two cases the judgment has assessed civil liability and the seller-developer is sentenced to compensate owners who bought these properties, but this compensation should be made effective prior to demolitions to avoid the risk that the seller fails to pay or is not able to pay and, as a result of this, third parties in good faith are not compensated. It should be noted that subsidiary liability of public administrations is not observed, as no construction permit was granted.

In order to guarantee the payment of compensations, appropriate actions should be taken prior to execute demolitions in the same proceedings for the enforcement of judgments. If this were possible, this situation should be determined as a reason to stop the judgment enforcement until compensations are paid to the affected owners. Obviously, each case should be analysed in order to determine whether the owner knew about the absence of construction permits and even though he was aware of the risk involved, he bought the property. In these cases, protection for these owners should be different.

Regarding certain information compiled by different means, there is a chronological perspective to be pointed out in respect of these two demolitions, which reveal the inefficiency of inspection and penalty procedures in regards of town-planning regulations, as well as the belligerent approach of public administrations participating:

-          In 2004, the Andalusian Regional Government initiated a proceeding against the developer and he was fined because of the earthmovings in this area. Then, he was obliged to restore it to its original state. Obviously, the developer failed to comply with this order to restore it to its former state. In addition, the Town Council or Andalusia Regional Government should have acted in this moment, as well as they have done now, when carrying out the demolitions.

-          In 2007, the Andalusia Regional Government officially ordered to the Town Council the demolition of the properties, as they have been built on non-developable land without construction permits. From 2004 to 2007, 3 years have elapsed. During this period of time the 4 properties were built and no competent public administrations did paralyze the works before they were completed. As a result of this, the completed houses were entered into legal transactions and then new owners arised. Why were construction works not paralyzed within these years?

-          Once that the 4 properties were completed, the Town Council authorized water and electricity supply for them; this illegal authorization granted by the Town Council implied that these homes were appropriate to be occupied, as these supplies were essential for their sales.

-          In 2012, The Andalusia Regional Government seemed to request the Town Council to execute the demolitions.

-          In October 2013, the demolition of two properties was carried out by the Andalusia Regional Government, because the Town Council did not do so. The other two properties are also pending to be demolished.

Nine years have elapsed since the construction activities without permits are known until their demolitions were indeed executed. During this period of time, third parties in good faith have appeared and been affected by this situation. Have public administrations really done their utmost? Could have they acted earlier and with greater accuracy since 2004?

It would be a rather difficult task to think that the Andalusia Regional Government and Town Councils are not liable for a large number of homes built without permits on non-developable land in Andalusia—liability becomes obvious for those properties built with construction permits—since they had aerial images of each area, cadastral information and documents from the Payments Offices for transfer tax collection, which may have allowed them to protect non-developable land and enforce Andalusia town planning Act (LOUA). But they did not want to do so. Accordingly, as town planning duties have not been complied in respect of inspection and penalty procedures, the liability of Andalusia Regional Government and Town Council is joint and shared.

It is also worth mentioning the existence of certain arbitrariness on the part of public administrations when judgments were enforced, since older proceedings are still pending to be enforced and no actions are being taken on them.

Foreign residential tourism is a key factor for local economies in many areas; different national newspapers have been looked up and all of them echoed the new demolitions, which is a very harmful publicizing. They stressed the absence of economic compensations before demolitions were carried out, rather than demolitions itself.

It is not a question of implementing a general amnesty for all irregular acts executed on non-developable land without permits, since this may lead to a negative message for people who meet regulations. However, the fundamental property right should not be further infringed in conformance with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law and property right should be protected in Spain as a fundamental right. In addition a legal  system which protects third parties in good faith should be provided in order to ensure legal certainty; inspection and penalty procedures should be carried out and should not go on forever due to the lack of interest of public administrations, so that their effectiveness may paralyze these type of constructions before they are entered into legal transactions; common sense and realism should be imposed and Regional Governments should be consistent with what has been accepted in these years, due to their failure to act or interminable penalty and enforcement procedures.

It seems understandable that town-planning legality will be now strictly enforced and hopefully it will be watched over. However, solutions should be provided from a logic and legal perspective for all previous cases.

 

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

 

PREFERRED SHARES: THE GREAT SCANDAL

PREFERENTES dosBy the end of 2008, Spanish saving banks and banks already had clear reports stating that current high interest rates may drop and the property bubble was about to burst. In addition, they also knew that the lucrative business of saving banks in the construction sector by means of credits for developers and mortgages for individuals, was about to go to ruin.

Regarding that their core business in the housing sector was about to finish and that saving banks could not issue shares as banks could, they “invented” the sale of a product to obtain funds known as participaciones preferentes (preferred shares). This financial term may be defined as debt securities issuances for an undetermined period of time, in which saving banks pay returns depending on their profits. But they may not even pay anything at all—although this product offered up to 7% returns—, because the payment of these returns depended on the financial entity profits. Thus, as a result of the housing sector slump and saving banks loss, there was no profit. Furthermore, these preferred shares have no voting rights and are not guaranteed by the Deposit Guarantee Fund—which covers people’s savings up to 100,000 Euros—and has no maturity, that is, they are perpetual.

Most of the investors who purchased these preferred shares were retail clients of these financial entities. Most of them thought that this product was similar to fixed income deposits. In most cases, these clients did not have any knowledge about financial risks neither any intention to risk their savings—their money was invested in fixed term deposits and one day they received a telephone call from the bank convincing them of the “advantages” of purchasing preferred shares; however, most of the disadvantages were not explained to them, because the bank employees did not probably even know what they were offering. They just followed the financial entity instructions.

Result: 300,000 people affected by the purchase of these preferred shares which may amount to 30,000 million Euros, although this sum may be higher.

Financial entities are allowed to sell this type of products if they carry out the following: study of the investor’s profile and performance of the private investor test for suitability. In most cases, it is obvious that financial entities should have not sold the aforementioned preferred shares to most of their retail clients, because they did not match the suitable profile to purchase this type of products and had limited savings to be invested only in conservative products, such as fixed income deposits.

Holders of the aforementioned preferred shares have the following options:

A) Secondary market offering, although they may be sold at a loss considering current circumstances.

B) Conversion into shares of the entity—this is the solution offered by saving banks. However, this exchange is also at a loss, as Bankia has already done two weeks ago—in this case, its clients have lost up to 70% of their investment when the preferred shares were converted.

C) Going to the arbitration offered by the Government—we sincerely have misgivings about its results and clients may also have to assume significant losses.

D) Going to court through civil proceedings to claim for the invalidity of the contract which served as a basis for purchasing preferred shares.  This is the most recommended procedure for all people affected, as court orders which have been already known are pronounced in favour of these people. Although this action may imply a longer procedure to recover the invested money, the result is much more advantageous.

We finally recommend you to consult an expert before taking any decision if you are a person affected by this matter, so that all possible options are explored particularly.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

NEW TAX LIABILITY FOR RESIDENT TAXPAYERS

The Spanish Government passed on the 15th of November 2012 a Royal Decree providing the liabilities to inform about assets and rights located abroad. This information is available at http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2012/11/24/pdfs/BOE-A-2012-14452.pdf.

This liability only affects resident taxpayers; non-residents are not liable for submitting this tax return.

Any account in financial institutions and any kind of real property or real property rights of ownership shall be declared, as well as any securities, interests, insurances and incomes, which are deposited, managed or obtained abroad.

Taxpayers shall inform about these assets and rights which they own abroad as at 31st of December 2012.

This tax return shall include any kind of assets and rights provided that the individual value for each of them exceeds EUR 50,000. This includes the following:

-          All accounts in financial institutions—account balances as at 31st of December and average balances for the last quarter.

-          Real property, indicating the purchase date and acquisition value.

-          Real property rights of ownership, indicating the opening or cancellation date.

-          Securities, interests, insurances and incomes which are deposited, managed or obtained abroad as at 31st of December of each year.

The submission of this informative tax return in successive years is only compulsory when the established limit have increased more than EUR 20,000.

The requirements of this tax liability shall be met between the 1st of January and the 31st of March in the following year to which this information refers.

This tax liability refers to both individual residents and bodies corporate which are liable for corporate tax in Spain. Tax form 720 shall be electronically submitted to fulfill the requirements of this tax return.

The recent approval of this tax liability to inform about assets located abroad represents a new control method for liable taxpayers in order to uncover informal economy, tax evasion and money laundering.

Fines are significant and they do not refer to the legal o illegal way of obtaining those assets, but to the fact that they are declared or not. The failure to submit the informative tax return will be considered a very serious infringement and the corresponding sanctions will be applied. This implies the payment of a EUR 5,000 set fine for each point of information which is not declared and the minimum fine amounts to EUR 10,000. The fine for individual taxpayers amounts to EUR 100 for each point of information and the minimum fine amounts to EUR 1,500, where the informative tax return had been submitted after the deadline without previous notification from the Spanish Tax Authority.

It is worth stressing the heavy fines, including for declaration of imprecise information. The above mentioned Royal Decree does not allow misunderstandings. A single mistake may result in a heavy fine. The declaration of incomplete or imprecise information entails the same sanctions. The fact that these assets are correctly declared in the country of origin will never be considered a ground for excluding the liability to pay the fine.

It is also determined that the tax liability to inform shall not be time-barred in respect to the date of origin of the assets and the application of this rule.

If this is your case, please do not wait any longer and prepare all the necessary information for submission to the Spanish Tax Authority in the following days. If you have any doubt or enquiry regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

PROPERTIES ON NON-DEVELOPABLE LAND AFFECTED BY RECENT FIRE IN COSTA DEL SOL

As a result of the terrible fire initiated last Thursday 30th in Coin, an estimate of 100 to 200 properties built on non-developable land within the municipal area of Coín, Mijas, Marbella, Ojén and Alhaurín el Grande were severely damaged and some of them completely ruined.

In this year 2012 the Decree 2/2012 for the regulation of buildings and scattered rural settlements on non-developable land in Andalusia was passed by the Andalusian Regional Government in January to put a stop to the problem of thousand of properties on non-developable land. However, this Decree does not currently apply nor does it mean the legalization of these properties, as it was already discussed on once of our previous article

According to the above mentioned Decree, most of these fire-affected properties are considered assimilated to out of ordination housing, as they were built without construction permits or infringing their condition and the municipal General Plan for Urban Planning PGOU. Therefore, no measures can be adopted to recover their legality, which has been disrupted over time and they cannot either be legalized. The only permission authorized by this Decree is “…works for the repair and maintenance which may require the strict maintenance of the security, occupation and health standards of the property” (Article 8.3 of the Decree).

In the event of some fire-affected properties considered out of ordination—properties built in accordance with the municipal PGOU, but considered “out of its ordination” after the PGOU modification, the permitted construction works shall be provided by the municipal PGOU, which is currently under development in most of the municipalities. The Andalusian Town Planning Act L.O.U.A. shall be also considered as it provides that “…only repair works for the strict maintenance of property occupation or usage…” as well as “…exceptionally partial and circumstantial works may be permitted for the property consolidation…”. It is worth mentioning that only a few of these properties may be under the “out of ordination” condition.

This restriction or limitation to alter or renovate properties on non-developable land is provided by the definition on the Decree for “scattered rural properties”, which are included within the “out or ordination” concept and its variant “assimilated”. In accordance with the case law, this concept has been defined as “constructions to disappear once their useful life possibilities finishes—the “out of ordination” condition aims the usage of property until it finishes over time, ends up as a ruin and naturally disappears. For this reason, the Andalusian regulation always provides the granting of permits for this type of constructions for the strict maintenance and under exceptional circumstances.

The Decree does not provide the legalization of these properties. In fact, part of the status for these “assimilated to out of ordination” properties considered as illegal, makes them to be given a definition and their use limited, since no measures can be taken to protect their legality, so that they are “attacked”, as too much time has elapsed since the were built.

In the event of a disaster as fire, flood, earthquake, landslides, etc…, in which a property is in ruins or very damaged and cannot be used again for the purposes to be occupied as a residence, if we abide by the current regulations on these events, it would be very complicated to grant a construction o repair permit for these properties, since it is against the concept of “out of ordination” and “assimilated to out of ordination” provided by the Decree.

The problem lies in a Decree which does not give any solution to the current legal condition of these properties, which have been tolerated by the Andalusian Regional Government and Town Councils for many years. During all these years, nobody has done anything at all on this matter and for that reason no legal measures can be legally adopted to restore their legality.

According to the first political reactions read on the papers about the burned properties, it seems that each particular case may be studied. In some cases, a forced and exceptional interpretation out of the legal framework would be adopted, so that those families with just one house would be allowed to rebuild and live on their non-developable lands as they did before the fire. The problem of this “shortcuts” to implement what the legal regulations do not provide is that a precedent is set, so that in the future event that any of the owners of the more than 100,000 properties built in non-developable land in Andalusia had a disaster of this kind, aren’t they also entitled to receive a similar treatment from the Public Administration? For this reason, the problem lies in a Decree for appearance’s sake, which does not solve the problem and is currently open to doubt in this type of situations.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

TAX EXEMPTION WHEN BUYING A PROPERTY BEFORE 31/12/2012

Regarding the current financial situation, which is reflected in the drop of property sales in Spain every three months, the Spanish Government has passed a new tax exemption. This exemption tries to promote the sale of properties and may become very interesting for both individuals and bodies corporate considering buying a real estate property in Spain in the short term, whether they purchase commercial premises, homes, offices, garages, plots, storage rooms, etc.

On the 12th of May 2012, the Central Government passed the Spanish Royal Decree-Law 18/2012 of 11th of May on the restructuring and sale of the property assets of the financial sector. This regulation included in its First, Second and Third Final Provisions the tax exemption for bodies corporate and individuals, whether resident or non-resident in Spain. This reform law allows all those buying a property from the 12th of May 2012 till the 31st of December 2012 to pay taxes only on the 50% of the capital gains when selling the property subsequently, whether in 1, 5, 10…etc years, while the remaining 50% is free of charges.

This exemption may save an important amount of money, because if a property is currently sold in Spain, capital gains are taxed at 21% for non-residents (19% from 2014), at 27% for resident taxpayers in Spain (21% from 2014) and at 30% for bodies corporate.

Here we present an example: imagine you are thinking about buying a property in Spain considering the current market opportunities; the price for this property may be EUR 200,000; the following eventual scenarios may occur according to the date of purchase when selling this property, for example, in 2017 for a sale price of EUR 270,000:

1) Non-resident taxpayers: EUR 70,000 of capital gains at 19% makes a total payment of EUR 13,000; if the purchase is performed before the 31/12/2012, the total payment would be EUR 6,650.

2) Resident taxpayers: EUR 70,000 of capital gains at 21% makes a total payment of EUR 14,700. If the purchase is performed before the 31/12/2012, the total payment would be EUR 7,350.

3) Corporate: EUR 70,000 of capital gains at 30% makes a total payment of EUR 21,000. If the purchase is performed before the 31/12/2012, the total payment would be EUR 10,500.

Obviously, this tax saving is not definitive in order to decide whether to buy a property or not in Spain, as it is not possible to know whether prices may go down much more nor the gains resulting from the eventual property sale. However, this fact may be a helpful factor to take a decision for those considering buying a property, especially for those non-speculative potential buyers whose main purpose is to enjoy this property for many years; thus, the longer they own the property, the greater the capital gains may be when selling it. Look at the figures and draw your own conclusions.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

BE CAREFUL, NON TAX RESIDENTS

Presently, by the fall of prices on the property market, many owners sell their homes for a similar or lower price than the purchase price when they originally bought them, which the main result is that there is no capital gains or this is not that much high on the sale of the property.

However, if these owners are non-resident tax in Spain, that is, if they pay taxes in another country, then the buyer has the legal obligation to withhold 3% of the purchase price and to pay it to the Tax Office, on account of the capital gain tax that the seller must pay for the gain on sale of his property. 18% is the tax rate that the Spanish Tax Authorities apply on the capital gain from the sale of a property.

If the seller has not obtained any capital gain or if the tax that he should pay for the gain is less than 3% retained by the buyer, the seller may request a refund of the whole amount or part of it

Well, in the moment that the Tax Office receives the request of the seller for the reimbursement of the income of 3% from the property sale, they firstly check whether the owner has submitted the form 210 –Income Tax Declaration for Non-residents when owning a property in Spain- (before 2008 it was the form 214), for the last 4 years prior to the sale of the property; in case he has not submitted it or he has not submitted any during these obligatory periods, the Tax Office demands the vendor to regularize the situation before returning anything.

In view of this requirement, the seller must submit and pay the corresponding tax due for every year that he has not submitted the form 210, with late payment interest and a financial penalty from the Tax Office for not fulfilling the obligation of submitting the form on time.

Because our experience tells us that many non-resident tax owners do not undertake the obligation of submitting the Form 210, we would recommend you to do it from this year. In case you would decide not do it now, you will probably have to do it later, paying a penalty as extra cost, and if it was your situation, an extra deadline in order the Tax Office to return the amount that the buyer withheld in the purchase of the property.

If you are trying to sell your property, and you have not submitted this tax during the last four years, we do recommend you to  regularize the situation and submit the tax. This will prevent you a possible financial penalty from the Tax Office, because if you submit this form with no requirement from the Tax Office, that is voluntarily, you will not be sanctioned by the Tax Authorities.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

OCEAN VIEW PROPERTY, PROBABLY ANOTHER CASE OF PROPERTY FRAUD IN MALAGA

Last Monday, the 13th of December, I read an    article in the newspaper EL MUNDO in which  they inform that about a hundred people from   Northern Ireland were victims of a property fraud through the Ocean View Properties agency. It was supposed that the development company would build a housing estate in a plot located in Estepona (Malaga). Apparently fraud people made important payments on account of the purchase price in 2005 and 2006 for their future homes in Spain.

Concerning these off-plan property sales, directly from the developer (new property), apart from confirming whether the developer that sells is the owner of the buildable plot, and the relevant Town Hall has approved the urbanization project of this land, the buyer should request the immediate handing of the bank guarantee along with the interim payments that the buyer are going to carry, guaranteeing every payment for the building process until the granting of the purchase title deed. In this way, if the urbanization project may not be completed because of an administrative cause, because of the insolvency of the developer or any other cause non attributable to the buyer, then he can get back every payment made by enforcing this bank guarantee.

In this case, it is obvious that buyers and their solicitors did not require these bank guarantees to the developer. Now, the buyers should associate each other to force in the judicial proceedings, relying on a competent legal team that may advice them properly. It is essential to bring a lawsuit against them (civil action) or criminal charges (criminal action depending on whether it is considered a fraud or not) expeditiously so to call for the preventive seizure of all the goods that the developer may have, and all the administrators' goods in any country, to study if the administrators have other companies opened so to attack all these goods.

When trying to get back money, the judicial proceedings is very long, so fraudsters or possible insolvents can hide or squander their patrimony and the trail of the money would be lost. The result of it may not guarantee the success.

Conclusion, if you are going to buy off-plan directly from the developer, make sure of who is the owner of the plot, of the urbanization project, and, specially, do not pay anything without receiving the corresponding bank guarantees for these interim payment until the granting of the purchase title deed. If you have signed a purchase private contract with a developer and you have not still the bank guarantees, it is time to require them, because the financial situation of the developer is complicated and, in short, you never know. Our advice is, if in doubt, you consult a solicitor in order him to analyze your situation.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

Contact

C&D Solicitors S.L.P.
Calle La Noria , Edif. Recreo II, 1-15
29793 Torróx-Costa (Málaga), Spain
(Entrance at backside of building)

T/F: +34 - 952 532 582
M: +34 - 677 875 078 (Gustavo Calero Monereo)
M: +34 - 659 218 470 (Francisco Delgado Montilla)

Open: Mon, Wed, Fri: 08:30 - 15:30
Tue, Thu: 09:30 - 14:30 & 16:30 - 19:30