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LAWYERS IN MALAGA FOR ENGLISH LEGAL ADVICE ON BUYING, SELLING OR INHERATING IN ANDALUSIA

Archive for english speaking solicitor

DON’T FORGET YOUR WILL IN SPAIN WITH THE NEW EUROPEAN REGULATION

Renewing Spanish will 2015

Renewing Spanish will 2015

We wouldn't want to ruin your day by talking about the “other life”, which we hope is a long way away (fingers crossed). However, because of the European Succession Regulation approved on 27 July 2012 and its upcoming application for the succession of people who die after 17 August 2015, I think it convenient to dedicate a few words to foreigners with assets in Spain.

As a starting point, this regulation establishes which jurisdiction applies to the assets of a EU national in a country of the European Union. The law applicable to the succession of a EU national, according to this Regulation, would be that of the country of habitual residence, with the ability to choose to apply the Law of his or her nationality provided that the deceased has stated this clearly and unequivocally in his or her will.

When it comes to Spain, if you are a national of a different country in the European Union but you reside and own assets in Spain, you must know that, if you do not have a Spanish will that clearly and unequivocally states that you would like the law governing your succession to be that of your nationality at the time of death, Spanish law will apply to your inheritance. What does this mean?

In Spain, there is no liberty to leave your property as inheritance to whomever you want. In Spain, the assets of the deceased are divided into three parts. Two of these parts belong to forced heirs, as follows:

  • The first part goes to each of the children in equal parts or, in the absence of children, to parents or, in the absence of the latter, to siblings.
  • The second part goes to one of the children or, if nothing has been set out, it is divided among all children in equal parts as well, as explained above.
  • The third and last part of an inheritance is the freely disposable part and this is the part that the deceased can leave to whomever he or she wishes but, to do this, there must be a will establishing this because, in the absence of a will, it will also be divided among the children in equal parts.

In Spain, a spouse comes last among forced heirs and would only inherit in the absence of these. In other words, if you are a foreigner in Spain and you reside and hold assets in our country, be aware that, if you die without a will or your will doesn't clearly state that you would like the law of your nationality to apply, your spouse will probably inherit nothing.

The best way to prevent problems of this type is for you to execute a will in Spain and clearly state the Law you would like to apply at the time of your death.

If you happen to have a will in Spain already, it is important for you to review it and verify that it complies with the provisions of the European Succession Regulation or, in other words, that the will you have signed clearly states that your will is for the law governing your succession to be your personal law, i.e. the law of your nationality at the time of your death.

In my opinion, wills that state that “this will is valid pursuant to the personal law of the testator and said law does not cover the concept of forced heirs...” or contain similar words may cause problems under the New Regulation and, in these cases, my recommendation is to execute a new one that clearly states that you would like your succession to be governed by the law of your nationality.

I would like to clarify something that is often confused in these matters. The law governing the succession of a person in Spain is one thing, which depends on what has been explained in this article, but the tax consequences of succession in Spain are an entirely different matter. In this case, we're referring to Inheritance Tax, which is regulated as explained in our post from March , as payment of that Tax will be due from the fact of inheriting an asset located in Spain, regardless of the Law governing your succession.

Lastly, we wish that you live for many years and you don't have to worry too much about such unpleasant matters.

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

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

THINKING ABOUT SELLING YOUR PROPERTY IN SPAIN? DO IT IN 2014 TO AVOID PAYING MORE TAXES

Capital Gain Tax when selling Spanish property

Capital Gain Tax when selling Spanish property

Next 1st of January 2015, a new tax reform will come into effect. This reform was approved in August by the Spanish Government and, among other measures, it will affect taxation of capital gains obtained as a result of a property sale in Spain:

1) Tax reduction from 21 % to 20 % for capital gains earned by a sale if the seller is non-tax resident in Spain.

2) Tax reduction from 21 %-27 % to 20 %-24 % for capital gains earned by a sale if the seller is a tax resident in Spain.

In these terms, it may seem that, from the 1st of January 2015, taxes for capital gains earned by a property sale will be reduced. However, you should be careful with this reform, since from the 1st of January 2015 sellers of a property may not be enable to apply reducing and updating coefficients of the purchase value when the property was bought.

You may wonder what it means; and it means that heretofore if you bought a property and then you sold it, when calculating the capital gain from the sale, you could update the price paid when you bought the property a few years ago, however, from 2015, this purchase value will not be allowed to be updated. For example:

You bought a property by public deed for 150,000 Euros in 2003 and now it is on sale for 200,000 Euros.

1 ) IF YOU ARE NON-TAX RESIDENT IN SPAIN

-          if you sell your property in 2014: the updated purchase value would be 177,540.00 Euros and 4,716.60 Euros should be paid for taxes as a result of a capital gain of 22,460.00 Euros taxed at 21 % rate.

-          If you sell your property in 2015: the purchase value would be 150,000 Euros (no update is allowed) and 10,000 Euros should be paid for taxes as a result of the capital gain of 50,000 Euros taxed at 20 % rate.

2) IF YOU ARE TAX RESIDENT IN SPAIN

-          If you sell your property in 2014: the updated purchase value would be 177,540.00 Euros and 5,375.00 Euros should be paid for taxes as a result of the capital gain of 22,460.00 Euros obtained.

-          If you sell your property in 2015: the purchase value would be 150.000 Euros (no update is allowed) and 10,880.95 Euros should be paid for taxes as a result of the capital gain of 50,000 Euros.

As shown by these examples, tax savings when selling your property in 2014 or from the 1st of January 2015 may be worthy of consideration.

Other examples of updated values with the same prices above: if you bought the property in 1995, the updated value in 2014 would be 210,750.00 Euros; then, you should not pay taxes for capital gain if it is sold in 2014 and you should pay 10,000 Euros for taxes if it is sold in 2015.

If you bought the property in 2013, the updated value in 2014 would be 154,454.00 Euros, then if you sell it in 2015, you would pay less taxes than selling it in 2014; however, this a small saving between 400-700 Euros according to whether the seller is a non-tax resident or tax resident in Spain.

In these examples, neither deductible expenditures (taxes, notary, registry and estate agent fees, etc.) have been taken into account, nor other possible deductions to which fiscal residents may be entitled.

CONCLUSION: if you are thinking about selling your property in Spain, you will probably be interested in doing it before the end of 2014, you will avoid paying more taxes for the profit obtained on the sale.

If you have recently bought a property or the sale price is very similar to the purchase price, you may be interested in selling it from 2015, as there is not a great difference regarding taxation. If you are selling at a loss, that is, you obtain no profit, it makes no difference whether selling it this year or the following.

Nevertheless, the most coherent decision is to make your own tax estimation for your particular case in order to know whether it is more convenient to sell this year 2014 or not, so you will have a clear idea of your possible tax savings.

 

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

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)

SUCCESSFUL DUTCH REAL ESTATE FAIR FOR C&D

Seminar ´Buying a house in Spain

Seminar ´Buying a house in Spain

As we already informed you in our previous news letter, C&D has been present at the Dutch Second Home fair in Utrecht last month. Being the only Spanish law firm on the fair, our daily seminars about the Spanish purchase process turned out to be the best attended during these three days, which proves that Spain is still a very attractive country for the Dutch to invest in. Also more than half of all exhibitors (mainly real estate agencies and developers) were focussed on Spain, which according to the organisation already has been the case for many years now.

In our stand we were able to speak to a lot of people with serious plans on buying a property in Spain, in most cases on the Costa del Sol or even particularly the Axarquia. The main issue in our conversations was to explain the important role of the lawyer during the purchase of a property in Spain. This situation is different from the Netherlands as in this country the lawyer´s work is completely done by the notary. We also got a lot of questions regarding wills and tax issues, for example on the subject of renting out a new bought property.

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

Stand of C&D Solicitors on Dutch Second Home Fair in Utrecht

Stand of C&D Solicitors on Dutch Second Home Fair in Utrecht

Our daily seminar we held in both Dutch and English and we explained the different phases of the buying process with the various legal documents there are to sign (reservation contract, private purchase contract and the title deeds). Besides of this we gave some background information on the official investigation of the lawyer, by which the future owner can make sure he´ll buy his property with all possible guarantees and free of any risks. (The extended Dutch text of our seminar you can find on the home).

Looking back we can say that this fair exceeded our expectations and has been really successful for us. Not only in the perspective of attracting new clients but also as a learning experience of presenting our company on the Dutch market. Despite of the good weather this Second Home edition in Utrecht attracted around 5.000 visitors.

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

C&D AT SECOND HOME FAIR IN UTRECHT

erfrecht spanje

Dutch Second Home Fair

C&D Solicitors likes to inform you about the fact that we will be present at the Second Home Fair in Utrecht (the Netherlands) from the 28th until the 30th of March.

As the only Spanish law firm on this fair we´ll provide Dutch visitors with legal and fiscal information concerning the Spanish purchase process. We also have been invited to -together with our Dutch commercial assistant- give a daily seminar, which will start at 14:45 hrs. (seminar 1). After this seminar exists the possibility to ask us specific questions in the fair´s wine bar that will have a special theme on Spanish wines.

If you happen to be able to visit the fair, you can download free tickets through this link and we look forward to welcome you in our stand!

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

SPANISH INHERITANCE TAX: POSSIBLE CONDEMNATION AND CHANGES

Did you pay too much Spanish inheritance tax?

Have you paid too much Spanish inheritance tax?

Last 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)

SPANISH PUBLIC TAX ADMINISTRATION REVIEWS PROPERTY TRANSFER VALUES

Spanish Tax Administration reviews property value

Spanish Tax Administration reviews property value

In the last few years, property market prices have dropped in Spain and the cases in which the National or Regional Tax Administration has reviewed declared values for property transfers have increased, whether for conveyance, inheritance or gifts; that is, you may sell your property for a certain and determined price, but the Regional or National Tax Administration may review that value after the sale and for tax purposes; then, it may consider that the real value of this sold property is higher than the one declared on the deed of sale, and therefore, the buyer shall pay the Transfer tax (ITP) on property transfer on the basis of the new value, which has been reviewed by the Regional Tax Administration, although the buyer had bought it for a lower price. In addition, the seller may have to declare capital gains higher than those actually obtained as a result of the review carried out by the National Tax Administration.

The abovementioned situation is legal and possible pursuant to Article 57 of Spanish general taxation law, in which it is provided that the Public Administration may check the property values by using different means.

Regarding urban properties, the Regional Tax Administraions and the Andalusian Regional Government are often supported on the grounds of an Order that is yearly approved to calculate the taxable minimum value of urban properties in this regard. As a result of this, it is possible to calculate this taxable minimum value from applying a rate provided by this Order to the details contained in the real estate tax IBI receipt (council tax). Then, you can know in advance whether the Tax Administration may claim more taxes or not when transferring your property.

Regarding rural real estate or properties with special characteristics, the matter becomes increasingly complicated, since Public Administrations may not always proceed by applying the aforementioned values and sometimes they are supported on the grounds of an expert report drawn up by technical personnel of the Tax Administration, which justifies the proven value of this rural or special property; for example, currently it is very common that the reviewed value for this type of properties is determined according to the estimated average values of construction, which are yearly publish by the Professional Association of Architects of Malaga. These values are indexed in a table containing the construction value per built square metre pursuant to the construction type and its features.

In the last year, as a result of this significant increase of value reviews by the Andalusian Tax Administration and, to a lesser degree, the National Government, our law firm always carries out an estimation of the taxable minimum value for tax purposes when advising our clients about property conveyance issues. Thus, they are warned of the possibility that their property value may be reviewed and the possible extra cost which may arise from this review. This is aimed at preparing our clients for this unpleasant surprise.

In general terms, the Andalusian Regional Tax Administration currently collects every single Euro from value reviews of property conveyances, so that if the taxable minimum value is higher than the conveyance actual value, it is quite normal that the Regional Government notifies you after a few months claiming the payment of the ITP tax on property transfer, stamp duty tax or gift and inheritance tax for the excess value reviewed.

The National Tax Administration, which is the competent body for capital gains collection of property sales, is not as determined as the Regional Tax Administration is when reviewing values. However, in those cases that the seller is not a tax resident and no capital gains has been obtained for the sale, when the 3 % withheld by the buyer is requested to be returned, the National Tax Administration does not hesitate to review the taxable minimum value of that property, so that the 3 % withheld is not returned in full to the seller. Furthermore, as a result of the reviewed taxable value, the seller may also have to pay the Tax Administration for capital gains, although no real gains had been obtained from the sale.

Obviously, there are grounds to challenge the property revaluations before the Public Tax Administration; however, in order to know if it is worthy to challenge it, it is important to examine and analyze each particular case in detail and determine if the reviewed value is properly justified before going ahead with the recourse.

Finally, it is also worth mentioning the possibility to file with the Tax Administration, prior to the property transfer, a binding report to obtain from the Tax Office the taxable value of this property. In some cases, it may be advisable to request this report, which commits the Tax Administration to respect it, although the value on this report will also oblige us for tax purposes.

 

 

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

 

RECENT CONTROVERSIAL DEMOLITION OF TWO PROPERTIES

Controvercial demolition properties Andalucia

Controvercial demolition properties Andalucia

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)

 

 

 

RELEVANT RULING FOR HOMEBUYERS OF NON-COMPLETED PROPERTIES WITHOUT BANK GUARANTEES

Ruling for non-completed Spanish properties without bank guarantees

Ruling for non-completed Spanish properties without bank guarantees

In the last few years, it has become quite common the significant number of homebuyers who have purchased off-plan properties and paid large sums of money on account for their future homes, however, the developer has never completed nor handed them over. Consequently, the advanced money has been lost in many cases, because the developer may have gone bankrupt and lost all assets to refund these amounts to them.

Spanish Government passed in 1968 the Law 57/1968 dated 27th of July on the receipt of sums paid in advance prior to the construction and sale of homes. This was aimed at stopping several cases of homebuyers who lost their money paid for properties which never were built.

Spanish Law 57/1968 is still in force and solicitors, who are specialised in this issue, know the regulations for homebuyers’ protection in respect of sums paid in advance to developers for off-plan or under construction properties prior to their completion. However, the most relevant point at this moment is the judgment argumentation set out for the court proceedings where 46 homebuyers without bank guarantees securing advanced payments, made a legal claim jointly and severally to the bank and the developer demanding the total amounts paid, because the construction works were never completed. The judgment was pronounced by a court of first instance of Albacete on the 08/06/2012 and was confirmed by the Provincial Court on the 11th of February of this year.

The aforementioned judgment ordered the bank to refund all amounts of money paid by the homebuyers, considering that it was jointly and severally liable together with the developer, pursuant to the interpretation of Articles 1 and 2 of the abovementioned Law of 1968, Article 4 of the Spanish Ministerial Order of 1968 and the First Additional Provision of the Law 38/1999 on building regulations.

Although the bank was not a party on the sale agreement and did not either issue bank guarantees for homebuyers’ payments on account, the main line of argument of this judgment to consider the bank to be jointly and severally liable is that this bank knew about these payments in the developer’s account and was aware that these amounts were paid for the purchase of homes in a property development. As a result of that, the bank did not comply with the obligations provided by Law 57/1968 and committed a banking malpractice, pursuant to the interpretation of Article 1.2 of this Law, as the developer should have been required to open a special account where depositing its funds apart from any other amounts aimed at the construction of the properties. In addition, the bank should have not permitted these deposits in ordinary accounts, and particularly when this bank was the only financial entity financing the development and profited from this real estate business.

This judgment entails a court action to recover the money for those homebuyers without bank guarantee securing the amounts paid on account to developers, because, if appropriate, they could bring an action for joint and several liability against the bank where the developer’s loan was granted, where the payments were deposited and where the developer operated. Thus, homebuyers will have better chances to recover the sums paid, considering that there are already many judgments where developers has been condemned to pay, but court orders cannot be enforced because of their insolvency, while banks are always solvent.

 

 

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

 

THE “SUMMER HOLIDAY RENTALS” ISSUE

Spain, summer, holiday, rentals, tax, law

New rules Spanish holiday rentals tax

On the 5th of June 2013, Spanish Law 4/2013 dated 4th of June was published in the Spanish Official Gazette B.O.E. This recent Law states the procedures to relax and promote the rental housing market. By means of this Law, the Spanish Government tries to regulate summer holiday rentals, which are not controlled by the Spanish Tax Administration Office.

These regulations aim at two basic objectives: on the one hand, to change people’s habit in respect of meeting their housing needs—up to now, people were inclined to purchase their usual home and obtain a mortgage. Now, it is a question to be more inclined to live in a rental home. And on the other hand, these regulations aim at combating underground economy of summer holiday rentals.

Nevertheless, these regulations leave summer holiday rentals without legal protection, because they provide that “rentals intended for non-residential use” are not regulated by the Urban Rental Law (Spanish acronym LAU), but by the regulations of Regional Governments according to their own criteria.

Particularly, Andalusian legislation on this respect is very strict and tough if compared with other Spanish regions. For example, owners with less than three rental properties in the same building or residential complex are not included within Andalusian regulations. As a result of that conditioning, a high percentage of owners are prevented from renting their second homes. This is aimed at combating “encroachment” upon the tourist professional field and unfair competition for traditional tour operators.

Alternatively, the new Law imposes strict and controlling measures for this type of summer rentals—the Spanish Tax Administration Office obliges electric companies to submit annually a report including household consumption. This is intended to gather the necessary data to detect those housing rentals that are not declared.

The new Law literally provides the following: “… it is not included within the scope of this law: … the temporary assignment for use of the entire furnished and equipped home to be immediately occupied, marketed and promoted through tourist offer channels for economic purposes, when this property is subject to a specific regime as a result of its sectorial regulations.    

Upon consideration of this statement, these regulations may be discussed and interpreted in respect of renting a home for holidays from a private landlord. We consider that this rental is possible, but it is necessary to tell the difference between two types of scenarios: on the one hand, the rental per days with a tourist purpose; and on the other hand, the seasonal rental.

In the former case, it implies a regular commercial use of the rental by a professional, offering other additional services apart from the accommodation. In fact, this kind of tourist apartment rentals was also excluded from Spanish Urban Rental Law (LAU) up to now. They were regulated by the legislation of the competent public bodies.

In the later scenario, we are not dealing with a tourist business activity, but a temporary assignment without additional obligation. Accordingly, this new Law does not seem to affect people under these conditions. In case it does, it may certainly imply a clear restriction of owners’ rights. They may be able to rent their homes per season, whether for a long term or a short term, including per days. In addition, these housing rentals are regulated under the protection of Spanish Urban Rental Law of 1994 (LAU).

 

 

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

 

 

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