CURB ON “FLOOR CLAUSES” IN MORTGAGE LOANS

CURB ON “FLOOR CLAUSES” IN MORTGAGE LOANS

Nullity floor clauses mortgages Spain
Nullity floor clauses mortgages Spain

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)

 

 

MAKING A WILL IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL

MAKING A WILL IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL

Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents
Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents

According to our legal and professional experience, there are many reasons for advising our clients to sign a Will before a Notary Public in Spain with regard to their property in Spain.

You cannot imagine how complex it may be for the heirs of a deceased to formally take the assets situated in Spain (properties, current account deposits, insurances, company shares or stakes … etc). when the only Will available is the one made by the deceased in his/her country of origin, or even worse, when the deceased did not make a Will in his/her country of origin.

In order for the heirs to take the said assets when the Will has been granted in the decesased´s country of origin, the heirs must have a number of documents legalised in the said country. For example, if the decesased is British, documents such as the probate and the grant of probate, among others, are required in order to distribute and formally take the property of the deceased in Spain between the heirs, in accordance with the Will made in the deceased´s country of origin.

However, if the deceased had not even made a Will in his country of origin, the procedure turns out to be more complex, as the rules of intestacy in Spain would be the ones applicable. According to which, only the deceased´s descendants and his/her widow/er would have inheritance rights, and the consent of all the interested parties would be required.

Therefore, the importance of making a Will in Spain is based on:

1)  Economic reasons: if you make a Will in Spain, the inheritance proceedings will be more economic for you heirs, as they will not have to apply for any documents in your country of origin.

2)  Time saving: If you have not made a Will in Spain, it will take longer to obtain all the necessary documents; on the same line, in the absence of a Will on the deceased´s country of origin, the intestacy procedure in Spain will take several months.

3)  Family reasons: Easier legal procedures make everything more agile and less stressing for the heirs.

To finish with, I must remind you that inheritance in Spain is subject to Inheritance Tax. Different regulations apply in each region. In Andalusia, there are a number of benefits and exemptions for a resident who dies in Andalusia, provided certain requirements are met. Therefore, residing in Andalusia (which differs from fiscal residency or from obtaining the residency card) can save a lot of money tax wise. I can assure you that I know of many people who have been living in Andalusia for a long time, and whose heirs will not be able to receive such Inheritance Tax benefits and exemptions for not having seeked professional advice.

In conclusion, if you have any assets in Spain, always make a Will and get professional advice. A professional will study your personal and family circumstances properly in order to draft a Will that suits your interests, minimising at the same time the tax implications for your heirs.

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

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

 

NEW STANCE ON DWELLINGS BUILT ON RUSTIC LAND IN LA AXARQUÍA

NEW STANCE ON DWELLINGS BUILT ON RUSTIC LAND IN LA AXARQUÍA

Legalizing process of rustic land Axarquía Málaga (houses without building license or with invalid building license)
Legalizing process of rustic land Axarquía Málaga (houses without building license or with invalid building license)

In la Axarquía, as well as in many municipalities in Málaga and Andalucía, there are at present thousands of properties which are built on land not designated for construction. These properties have been built without any building permit whatsoever and no responsibility may be claimed as the criminal or administrative actions that would have applied, have lapsed. We refer to thousands of dwellings which will remain built for many years, and their use and enjoy will never change.

From a logical point of view, and why not mention it, from an ecological one, the most coherent thing to do, in these cases, would be to try to legalise them. This would imply setting minimum requirements for them to follow, and providing the dwellings with infrastructures, such as sewage systems, that would avoid damaging their surroundings, since regardless of whether they are legalised or not, they will remain occupied.

Regarding dwellings built on land not designated for construction, but where a building permit has been granted (those permits may be challenged and declared null at any time), we do not see the point in bringing hundreds of administrative and contentious actions to declare them void. As proceedings will take endless time to be settled, and whereas eventually a few orders may be enforced, some demolition orders will never be put into effect. In addition, it will affect many homeowners who will claim pecuniary liability to the Local Council, and also, in my view, to the Junta de Andalucía (Andalusian Regional Government).

However, given the current situation of insolvency of the government institutions and their tendency to delay proceedings, it will be very difficult for the homeowners to obtain compensation.

As we stated in our October article Málaga, Axarquía and Urban Problems, this situation has been reached due to a total lack of interest on the part of the Local Councils and the Junta de Andalucía, in the exercise of their duties in the last years, even when they were totally aware of the said irregularities.

And apart from all these consequences, it should also be added, the damage that starting hundreds of legal proceedings, with subsequent demolitions, and owners claiming compensation, etc, can do on residential tourism, mainly foreign, creating, thus, a situation of complete legal uncertainty. This kind of tourism and the economy of the area would be affected and probably driven to the wall.

Therefore, the decision of the Junta to approve a Decree in the next six months to legalise this situation of urban chaos, considering the starting point of the situation, is the most logical and coherent stance to adopt. And we think the cost “can be assumed” by the homeowners affected, as, at the end of the day, it will be to their own benefit, to the benefit of the government institutions involved, and on the ecological interest of the area where they are situated, it will also lead to the economic progress of this area.

We will follow this issue with expectation over the coming months. In any case, considering the circumstances, this change of stance of the Junta de Andalucía is a good piece of news.

Anyway, as everyone knows, when elections approach anything can happen.

 

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

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

 

BE CAREFUL, NON TAX RESIDENTS

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 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 210Income 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)

 

 

FIGURE OUT OF REGULATION AND CONSTRUCTION ON UNDEVELOPED LAND

FIGURE OUT OF REGULATION AND CONSTRUCTION ON UNDEVELOPED LAND

Andalucian houses built out of regulation according to Town Hall´s urban law LOUA
Andalucian houses built out of regulation according to Town Hall´s urban law LOUA

Now that many municipalities in Málaga are approving their development plans in an attempt to regulate the urban chaos in relation to dwellings on undeveloped land, and to adapt those plans to the Law on Urban Planning of Andalusia (LOUA,) the obvious question is; what will happen to the irregular housing that cannot be legalized by the new urban plan adopted by each municipality?

A possible solution to these houses can be the designating them as homes “fuera de ordenación” (out of regulation), ie homes or buildings that do not satisfy the new municipality’s urban planning, therefore cannot be legalized, and it cannot be either asked any kind of responsibility to their owners or developers as any possible urban infraction has prescribed according to the LOUA or penal code, through the passage of over four years and five years respectively, since the buildings were finished.

Such classification of a property as “out of regulation” can be done by either the City Council or at the request of the owners, and entails certain limitations on the rights of the owners with respect to such property. Thus, the building can only undertake repairs work and maintenance for the strict conservation for the occupancy and use of such constructions, and such other works authorized under exceptional provisions of the Act. However, these properties can still be used by their owners, so that they can continue to enjoy their homes, do conservation work thereof and carry out any legal business on their property, acknowledging the existence of the above mentioned limitations in the property use and enjoyment but with the legal security that any legal liability can be required in the future because the housing has been declared by the City Council as out of regulation and, therefore, is now legally defined.

Given the numerous buildings that are not legalized in the Axarquia and over which there can not be imposed any liability, some municipalities are currently starting to open statement records of “out of regulation” in order to end up with this situation of legal uncertainty over these buildings that can not be legalized since they are located on undeveloped land according to the urban plan. The objective is also to give the owners legal protection letting them know what they can or cannot do on their properties but with the legal security that no responsibility will be claimed on them in the future regarding their properties. In fact our firm recently launched the first record of this type in one of the municipalities with more properties in this situation in La Axarquia, not having finished to this day.

According to the LOUA, the councils have the authority or power to define in their urban plans what can or can not be done on these out of regulation properties, so they can take this advantage of that power or authority to help solving the problem of all buildings that can not be legalized in the new general urban plan but over which there cannot be any imposed legal liability. Thus using their authority to help making this cataloging received positively among the affected property owners while helping to organize and regulate part of the chaos of the homes built on rural land, with the consequent benefit to the town Hall for new incomes and for the owners that will have legal security in their properties

Therefore, given the impossibility of legalizing the new urban plan on everything that has been built illegally, the legal definition of out of regulation may be of interest for the owner to give legal security to their property.

 

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

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

 

ANNUAL TAXES FOR NON-RESIDENTS WHEN OWNING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN

ANNUAL TAXES FOR NON-RESIDENTS WHEN OWNING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN

Inheritance tax Spain
solicitor english speaking

All property owners in Spain are liable for some taxes every year. Even if you are (tax) non-resident, when owning a property, you must fulfill your fiscal obligations here in Spain by submitting your yearly income tax declaration for non-residents (IRNR).

In the event you are non-resident in Spain, the reason why you are subject to this tax is because your Spanish property is not your principal residence. Non-residents remain subject to the tax because, by definition, Spain is not their principal residence, so that it is necessary to calculate your property owners’ imputed income tax on your second and further homes you may have.

Be aware of tax year in Spain ends by the 31st of December, so that your income tax declaration should be submitted to Tax Authorities before this date, by filling out the application form number 210.

The calculation of the IRNR will depend on several factors, among others, the type of property (urban or rustic), when the rated value of the property for tax purposes was raised, price or valuation of the property, etc.

If you are in this situation and you still have not submitted your Property owners’ imputed income tax, you have one month approx. to be up-to-date with Tax Authorities.

 

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

 

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