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

Archive for conveyancing

HOMEOWNERS ACTING IN GOOD FAITH, MORE PROTECTION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE FIELD

Compensation Andalucian home owners in good faith

Compensation demolition Andalucian home owners in good faith

Last 24 June, the Senate approved an amendment that provides greater protection to third-party homeowners acting in good faith in administrative proceedings. This amendment was approved with the favourable votes of the main political groups and introduces a third paragraph in article 108 of Law 29/1998, of 13 July, which regulates contentious-administrative proceedings in Spain.

This new third paragraph provides that: “The Judge or Court, in the cases where, in addition to declaring the construction of a property to violate regulations, it issues a reasoned order to demolish the works and restore the physical reality altered, shall require, as a condition prior to demolition and unless a situation of imminent danger prevents it, the provision of sufficient guarantees to respond to payment of compensation due to third parties acting in good faith.”

In other words, with this paragraph, it is guaranteed that the judge ordering the demolition of a building in administrative proceedings must ensure, prior to the demolition, that third parties acting in good faith that will be damaged by the demolition of their homes will receive compensation. This means that, what this new subsection regulates is that a home may not be demolished if the homeowner cannot be compensated in advance, as it is understood that the homeowner has no reason to suffer these damages when the party responsible for the unlawful act committed by building the home was someone else.

The approval of this new subsection equates the handling of the enforcement of judgments on buildings, which entail their demolition, in administrative and criminal proceedings since, as we explained in our article from March, the criminal code has also been amended in this sense.

The amendment in the administrative field, which gives greater protection to third parties acting in good faith, is even more logical, from a legal standpoint, than the one in the criminal field and, needless to say, represents the correction of a regulatory mistake that resulted in great injustice.

It should be noted that, in contentious-administrative proceedings, courts examine building licences granted by the City and which have been unlawfully granted due to being contrary to the plan of the municipality.

Before this amendment, when a judgment nullifying a licence of this type was handed down, usually, one of the consequences of this nullification was the obligation to demolish the works completed under the licence declared null, without compensating homeowners acting in good faith at the time of demolition in these proceedings. The only option for these homeowners was to start different judicial proceedings either against the City or against the seller of the property, which could take years to be solved and provided no certainty of recovering the investment made. We can thus prevent cases as regrettable as that of Mr and Mrs Prior.

We can affirm that, in judicial proceedings related to buildings, both in the administrative and criminal fields, thanks to these legislative amendments, homeowners who purchase or will purchase a property in good faith, not being responsible for any unlawful act, will enjoy greater protection of their assets and property rights.

Part of what we denounced and explained in an article published in 2013 has been addressed by these changes, even though there is still some way to go and more legislative changes are expected.

This legislative amendment, as the one introduced in the criminal code in March, has been made possible thanks to the work of several associations of people affected from many different areas in Spain, including: AUAN, AMA and SOHA. The continued and persistent work of these associations, their representatives and the lawyers involved have made it possible for all homeowners in Spain who are third parties acting in good faith to enjoy greater legal certainty.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors, (Lawyers)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

CADASTRAL REGISTER: TO BE REGISTERED, THE QUESTION IS CLEAR

Cadastre registration Spanish properties

Cadastre registration Spanish properties

The cadastre is a compulsory administrative register which depends on the Ministry of Finance. It keeps the description of rural and urban properties as well as properties with special features. This register has nothing to do with the Land Register, where registrations are voluntary and legally prevails over the Cadastre.

Cadastral registration by property owners is compulsory, as provided by Article 11 of Spanish cadastral law Ley del Catastro Inmobiliario; that is, title holders to the properties shall declare before the Cadastre Office any variation or modification as for example: conveyance, new constructions, land partitions and additions and any other necessary information so that cadastral descriptions of properties are in accordance with the facts.

Consequently, owners’ obligation to adapting the physical reality of the property to the cadastral facts is clear.

Articles 70 and 71 of the Spanish law Ley del Catastro set out the rules on infringements and penalties, so that “failing to submit declarations, submit them after deadlines or submitting false, incomplete or incorrect declarations” may be considered an infringement punishable by a fine from 60 to 6,000 Euros. To date, we have no evidence that the Cadastral Register is penalizing owners for failing to submit the necessary declarations, although these are not submitted.

The problem that we have noted is that the Cadastral Government Office in Malaga refuses to accept modifications on properties built on non-developable lands and requested by owners or their legal representatives, despite it is deemed that the documents legally required has been submitted for these proceedings. We reiterate that the Cadastre is a compulsory register and as a result it is important to be taken into account.

As far as we understand, the Cadastre systematically refuses some variations and modification on non-developable lands; consequently, it is requested additional documentation which we consider to be unnecessary and should not be demanded according to Spanish law. In view of this situation, which we understand that is not applicable to law, our law firm has filed complaint actions against different administrative proceedings, which are pending to be resolved by the Economic Administrative Court of Malaga.

If owners are obliged to declare their property modifications or variations before the Cadastral Register Office and their legal documents are provided, what is their responsibility if the Cadastre denies their request or asks for further documentation that owners do not have?

From our point of view, the fact of requesting the cadastral variation or modification providing the necessary documentation should exempt owners from any infringement imposed by the Cadastral Register, since they did their best to adapt the physical reality of their property to the cadastral facts.

On the other hand, the Minister of Finance approved last year the cadastral regularization procedure 2013-2016, by which the Real Estate Cadastre intents to incorporate ex-officio urban and rural properties with constructions, as well as any variations of their features, so that these properties are recorded in the Cadastral Register and the Spanish property tax IBI may be collected.

In Malaga, just a few municipalities has acceded to this procedure, by which owners are requested the payment of a 60 Euros fee to carry out this regularization, although it is probable that other municipalities also accede to this procedure in the following years.

To sum up, and despite the existing difficulties to register in the Cadastre some modifications or variations, we advise owners to check if their property is correctly registered in the Cadastre, so that they may request before this register office the necessary modifications and variations to adapt the physical reality of their property to the cadastral facts. As a result of this action, they will avert potential problems.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Torrox-Málaga)

PLUSVALIA TAX PAYMENT WHEN THE ACTUAL VALUE OF CONVEYED PROPERTIES HAS DECREASED

Spanish Plusvalia tax decreased value property

Spanish Plusvalia tax with decreased value property

Currently, as a result of the existing conditions of real estate market, the sale price of a real estate property may be below the purchase price or slightly above it.

As regards of these situations and in connection to taxes to be paid when selling a property in Spain, it is necessary to clarify that the increase in urban land values is the first element of the taxable event of the local tax on the increase in urban land values (Spanish acronym I.I.V.T.N.U.), commonly called PLUSVALÍA. Thus, in the event of no increase, no tax may be applied, despite the content of the objective rules for the calculation of the tax provided by Article 107 of Spanish law regulating local taxation (L.H.L.), since no tax liability may arise when an essential element of the taxable event is missing.

The legal liquidation system does not preclude that the taxpayer proves in the specific case that the application of the calculation methods by the Tax Administration leads to unrealistic results. On the other hand, regarding the formula of Article 107 L.H.L., the Supreme Court ruling dated 22nd of October 1994 was conclusive when maintaining that this article was subsidiary, defending and safeguarding taxpayers. According to this Judgment “legal regulations only provide a rebuttable presumption, which is subject to be distorted in each particular case by appropriate and sufficient evidence in the above terms for the taxpayers and in conformance with the provisions of Article 385 of the Spanish Civil Procedural Law. This reasoning, in regards of the actual increase in value(plusvalía) from property sales leading to non-taxation, was also highlighted by the Supreme Court in the Judgment dated 29th of April 1996 and the Judgment dated 22nd of September 2001.

However, a recent Judgment from the High Court of Justice of Catalonia dated 18th of July 2013 also pronounces undoubtedly the fact that town councils cannot charge the plusvalía tax in the event that it does not exist, since the Judge states that when an essential element of the taxable event is missing –as for example obtaining a profit from a property sale—no tax liability to pay plusvalía tax may arise.

Recently, it is being confirmed an increase of court rulings admitting taxpayers’ appeals against tax liability in the event of loss of assets. In the words of Pablo Chico de la Camara, Professor of Financial and Taxation Law: “the caselaw of the Constitutional Court confirms the impossibility to tax a nonexistent taxable wealth by the local authorities”. This situation may occur when the transferor may certify the loss of assets on the occasion of a land conveyance. It is clear for the Supreme Court that the nonexistence of increase in land values precludes the application of the Plusvalía tax.

To sum up, the objective absence of increase of land value may lead to non-taxation, as a result of the nonexistence of the taxable event, since the legal contradiction cannot and should not be resolved in favour of the “calculation method” and to the detriment of the economic reality. Consequently, it would mean the ignorance of the principles of equity, justice and economic capacity.

These same conclusions shall be applied when an increase of the value occurs and the amount of this increase is proved to be lower than the result of applying this calculation method, being the same principles infringed.

These conclusions, which are already supported by several doctrinal criteria and caselaw, shall be considered as unquestionable at present, in view of the aforementioned economic reality.

In SHORT: when it is certified and proved in a specific case that there has not been an economic and actual capital gain from a property sale, the payment of the Plusvalia tax (I.I.V.T.N.U.) shall NOT be required by town councils.

But the reality is that Town Councils are still requiring the payment of this tax despite properties are sold at a loss, so that the judicial procedure is the only chance in this case for taxpayers to “tackle” the payment of this tax. However, when the resulting plusvalía tax payment is relatively low, it is not worth taking legal actions, due to legal costs.

For those who decide to claim, we understand that there are sufficient legal and solid arguments to obtain a favourable judgment.

 

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

INCREASE OF THE VAT AND OTHER TAX MEASURES REGARDING THE PROPERTY IN SPAIN

The Spanish Government, particularly Mr Cristobal Montoro, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced last Friday 13th of July that, from the 1st of January 2013, will apply a VAT of 10% (of the declared value of the property) to new properties, with regard to the current 4%.

 

During the press conference after the Council of Ministers, the Chancellor has recalled that the application of the reduced VAT (4%) for the purchase of a property had an “expiry date”, that the Government has stated today for the beginning of 2013.

Mr Montoro has also indicated that, according to the recommendation of the EU, from the 1st of January 2013, “the tax deduction on the purchase of a property in Spain will be abolished”.

So, if you are thinking of purchasing a new property, it will definitely be crucial, from a financial and economic point of view, that you do it before the 31st of December 2012.  To see it more clearly, the difference in a direct taxation regarding a property valued at 200 000,00€ is 12 000,00€.

If you are planning to purchase a property here in Spain, do not hesitate to contact a professional lawyer for a deeper tax planning.

 

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

 

 

 

TAX EXEMPTION WHEN SELLING YOUR PROPERTY IN SPAIN

The Spanish Constitution and the regulations (tax and social) developed thereof, regarding the protection of the elderly, guarantee that the elderly will receive a comprehensive system of care and protection that promotes and enhances the wellbeing of this section of the population, within which this article highlights the area of economic protection.

The purpose of this type of protection is to formulate a system of regulations that provide the elderly with the necessary economic resources, which will contribute towards their independence and improve their quality of life.

As principle provisions or benefits within this economic protection of the elderly, we can highlight, among other things: retirement pensions (contributory and non-contributory), supplementary economic provisions, various subsidies and aid, which is granted within the scope of Social Services, as well as certain tax benefits.

In relation to this matter, this article will focus on the exemption from capital gains, which, for those over 65, occurs at the time that their habitual residence is sold.

Gains derived from the transfer of immovable property are taxed, for non-residents, at a fixed rate of 19%. For residents, the first €6,000 is taxed at 19% and the rest is taxed at 21%.

Moreover, in the case of the transfer of property by a non-resident, the purchaser shall be obliged to withhold and pay 3% of the sale price as payment on account of taxes which should meet the requirements of capital gains for non-residents and that should be paid directly to the Tax Authorities. Said retention from the sale price is not incurred if the seller has the right to tax reduction for the transfer of property that is their habitual residence, for those over the age of 65.

Article 31.4 b) of Law 40/1998, which regulates personal income tax, establishes that  those over the age of 65 shall be exempt from capital gains in the event that the property transferred is their habitual residence.

The only two requirements for eligibility for this tax exemption are the following:

  • The taxpayer must be over 65 at the time that the transfer takes place.
  • The transferred property must be their habitual residence. In order that the property be considered a place of habitual residence for the purpose of this tax, two temporal limits are established: 1) it must be effectively occupied by the taxpayer within a period of 12 months from the date of acquisition or from the termination of any building work; 2) it must constitute their place of habitual residence for an on-going period of at least three years prior to the date of sale.

 

 

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

 

 

OBTAINING THE FIRST OCCUPATION LICENSE

We have recently known, through our clients’ consultations, of the situation that most of the owners of La Axarquía area suffer, which comes from the lack of a License of First Occupation on their properties, particularly, regarding those problems with contract the supplies, such as the electricity supply for their first time or for its restoration, after being cut off by the electricity company (i.e. end of construction site temporary power).

 

The License of First Occupation is a certificate issued by the town hall that confirms that a newly-built property fully complies with all planning and building regulations, and is ready to be used as a dwelling. It also confirms the compliance with all Health, Safety, Planning and Construction laws, and that the property has been fully completed, with no outstanding works. Each newly built dwelling will have an individual License of First Occupation. License of First Occupation only applies to newly-built properties as the L.F.O. is the original authorization to use them as a dwelling.

Granting a License of First Occupation certifies that the developer has built the dwelling fully complying with the original Town Hall’s Building License, as well as complying with all Planning laws.

The License of First Occupation is required to have access to the official supplies (water, electricity, gas,…). Spanish law requires the granting of the License of First Occupation to set up any utility contract for the property. The utility companies are required by Law to check for a License of First Occupation before connecting a newly-built property.

It is always advisable to complete the purchase with a valid License of First Occupation (LFO) in place, even if it is not illegal to complete at the Notary office without a License of First Occupation. In other words, the property purchase completion before a Spanish Notary public without a LFO is legal in Spain, and the property can be lodged under your name at the Land Registry records. However, it is not legal to “live” in a property without the License of First Occupation. This is the reason because not having it will prevent you from having access to water and electricity supplies for the property in order to get them connected.

Properties without LFO can be bought, sold and registered at the Land Registry. So it is not illegal to sell a property without LFO. If you own a newly-built property that was not issued with the License of First Occupation you might have trouble selling it as the potential buyers may seek for a steep discount because of this matter.

The information concerning the LFO given in this post may have to be understood as a benchmark to all those new built properties according to a building license previously obtained and complying with all Planning laws. If this building license was not given, if it was not according with Planning laws, or, in the event that the works carried out did not adhere to the building plan, we will be in another different situation, and the way to get access to these supplies would be different as well. But this is an issue which will be analyzed in a further post, taking into consideration the new measures introduced by the called new “Decree of legalization”, approved by the Andalusian Parliament last 10th of January, in this sense, which is not in force yet.

 

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

 

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NEW URBAN SCENE IN LA AXARQUIA

Due to the urban complexity that most of the municipalities of La Axarquía are immersed because of the Spanish local elections held in May, the changes in the local governments could mean changes in the way of managing each municipality and in the solutions that such local governments could propose in view of the complex urban development in this area.

We have to take into account that, nowadays, most of the municipalities are working in the production and approval of their new General Plans for Urban Zoning (PGOU) to adapt them to the Urban Zoning Code of La Axarquía (LOUA) and to the Plan for Town Planning in La Axarquía (POT), and so as to offer a final solution to all those housing developments built upon non-urban areas as well as to the thousands of isolated buildings within each municipality.

Apart from the several actions carried out by the town halls, it is worth mentioning the announcement made by the Junta de Andalucía about the approval of a Decree to legalize the large number of houses in La Axarquía. Besides, the Junta de Andalucía has made an inventory about houses built upon non-urban areas and which is being sent to each of the town halls so that they could know the situation of all those mentioned houses.

The PGOU is the main instrument in the planning of each municipality and it provides the characteristics and nature of the area that comprises such municipal district. So, it is very important that those owners with properties built upon non-urban areas, whether it is an isolated house or a house within a development, appear before the municipal offices as soon as possible, preferably with a specialized lawyer, in order to study the situation of the houses and the possibilities of legalizing them or declaring them houses out of regulation.

It is worth mentioning all those housing developments partly or totally built upon non-urban areas, but with different situations in their basic infrastructures (lighting, roads, sewer systems, water, etc). In those cases, it is necessary that each Community of Owners or, if it is not established, one of their representatives, enquires in the town hall about the situation of the housing development and its possible inclusion in the new PGOU.

If we take into account that it seems that possible mid-term solutions and measures may arrive, it is important that owners ask and take part in such “regularization” process that will be born within each town hall, so as their property or housing development could be part of this new plan, or in order to find a solution for each conflict or situation.

Obviously, regularizing each house will have a charge for the owners, depending on their situation, but we think it is a “minor wrong” if this situation of legal insecurity upon many rustic properties comes to an end.

Nowadays, our legal firm, which represents some clients that have houses or are part of a housing development built upon non-urban areas, has already started to deal with several town halls about the situation and regularization proposals of their properties. It is important that the owners are the ones who look for solutions with the town halls.

Please, feel free to submit any comment, doubt or query, by filling out the following form:

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

 

CURB ON “FLOOR CLAUSES” IN MORTGAGE LOANS

On the 30 September 2010, Court no. 2 of Seville gave judgment declaring the "floor clause” introduced by the respondent entities Spanish bank BBVA, Saving Banks Cajamar and Caja de Ahorros de Galicia in the mortgage loan deeds formalised with them abusive and therefore null and void, for considering that the minimum threshold interest rates set by them are abusive and detrimental for the consumer.

Although the judgment has been appealed by the three financial entities mentioned, the Court has ordered the provisional application of the resolution. Therefore, as from 27 January 2011, they will not be able to include the said clause in their mortgage loans, and from 11 April, they will not be allowed to charge the clients with the difference between the minimum interest rate as per Euribor plus the interest rate agreed with the client, and the minimum threshold interest rate or  “floor rate” set by the said bank entities in their mortgage loans.

The so called “floor clause” means that in times of low mortgage interest rates, such as the ones we have lived through and are living through at present, the client is committed to pay a set minimum interest rate, which means that even if interests go down, their mortgages cannot benefit from lower interest rates

According to ADICAE (Association of Banks, Saving Banks and Insurance Companies of Spain), in Spain, there are currently 3.8 million clients who have this “floor clause” included in their mortgage loans and have not been able to take advantage of lower mortgage interest rates over the last years. The said association considers that in 2010, Banks and Saving Banks obtained a revenue of 7,000 million euros thanks to these clauses. These results show the importance and relevance of this judgment.

Therefore, as from 11 April, the entities BBVA, Saving Banks Cajamar and Caja de Ahorros de Galicia are obliged to recalculate repayments in all loan agreements taking into account a variable interest rate according to the Euribor benchmark rate, plus the interest rate negotiated with the client, and not according to the minimum threshold interest rate or “floor rate” established in their mortgage loans. This means that, since the interest rates applicable will be lower, the monthly repayments of those clients who have a mortgage loan with any of these entities will decrease.

Commercial Court no. 11 of Madrid has currently admitted the biggest joint action filed in Spain against 45 bank entities for the application of these “floor clauses”. It is likely, that before the end of the year, we know if such a number of saving banks and banks have to follow the path of the other three mentioned, which will be the most logical and coherent outcome.

However, whichever the result, it is likely that this issue of "floor clauses” reaches the High Court, who will then be in charge of taking the definitive decision about these provisions being abusive or not.

In the meanwhile, I would advise you to check your mortgage loan deeds , so that you may see if you have benefited from this judgement and if from 11 March, your bank is applying the resolution.

We will keep you informed on new updates.

 

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

 

 

THE DEMOLITION OF THE BUILDINGS IN THE RUSTICS LANDS OF ANDALUCIA

Following the news published recently in a local newspaper, the Provincial Courts of Jaén cancelled the demolition of a two storey house and its swimming pool that were built on rustic ground. This house had the circumstance that its grounds invade part of the bank of a river.

There are currently a series of penal judiciary procedures opened all over Andalucía for crimes against the zoning law due to houses built without license on common rural grounds, that is to say, grounds which lack specific protection.

It must be clearly stated that in a procedure for the prosecution of a crime against land planning, the sentence pronounced doesn’t necessary order the demolition of the illegal building. This is due to the fact that demolition is not a punishment held within the penal code in case the owner is found guilty for having started the building process without planning permission. Demolition is thus a compensating measure, a possibility for the jury to evaluate the circumstances of each case in question that will have to be explained once the sentence is pronounced.

Once we have established this, part of the jurisprudence establishes that not demolishing a building in a case in which the Council could have legalized this building by the administrative way; on those population nuclei built on rustic ground and constituted by numerous buildings that pay the common local tax, that have garbage pick up service, water, electricity, etc… that is to say: certain infrastructure with the appearance of a residential area; demolition of illegal buildings in this case would not apply in the court decision. This is due to the fact that it would not be logical nor understandable to reach a judiciary decision in which such an area with different constructions, since the objective of demolition within penal context is to protect and to make a rational use of the ground, little can be done to protect by demolishing one building when there are others around it, as it will not possible to totally recover that space left to its original rural status.

We could therefore conclude by saying that now a days among the multiple rustic areas with buildings without licences on them with the appearance of a residential area in themselves, he line that some sentences are following can be considered as more logic and coherent, since there is the impossibility to repair what was illegally built. This current situation is therefore the result of the Councils and the Andalusian Council in the neglect of their controlling functions on ground use for a long period of time, not having taken the appropriate measures in due time.

But let’s finally take into account that we are talking here about legal procedures against buildings that were not granted building permission. It is something very different to those buildings that were granted building permission despite wrongfully, in places where the General Building Planning would not allow them. These cases belong to the Litigious-Administrative jurisdiction. I will try to state the legal consequences to these cases in next article, although I assure you it won’t be an easy task.

Please, feel free to submit any comment, doubt or query, by filling out the following form:

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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