When purchasing a property in Spain, there are various procedures involved. An important issue, which unfortunately on many occasions is overlooked, is the certificate of indebtedness with the ‘Community of Owners’. This is of vital importance and as a consequence imposes legal responsibilities, of which on many occasions buyers seem unaware.
• The article 9.1.e) of the Condominium Law (a.k.a. Horizontal Property Act 49/1960, as amended by Reform Act 8/1999, Civil Procedure Act 1/2000, and Equal Opportunities Non-discrimination and Universal Access for Persons with Disabilities Act 51/2003), states the following … “Under the Property in Condominium regulations the purchaser of a house or premises, even where the title was registered in the Land Registry, is liable for both the quantities he owes to the Proprietors Community on his property and for the maintenance of general expenses by the previous owners up to the limit of the fees assessed for the period to date of the year when the transfer of ownership took place and for the immediately preceding natural year. The flat or premises will be legally encumbered to fulfill this obligation.”
• “The deed shall include a statement by the transferor declaring that there are no outstanding debts for general expenses payable to the community or, in the event that there are, he/she shall declare their amount, regardless of what is recorded on the property Title. The transferor shall produce at that moment a certificate concerning the state of debts with the community that shall coincide with said statement. Execution of the deed shall not be authorised unless the purchaser should expressly waive such requirement. The certificate shall be issued by the person acting as secretary within seven natural days of request, with the approval of the president. Both shall be accountable, in case of malfeasance or negligence, for the accuracy of the data on the certificate and for any damages resulting from delay as to its issue.”
• It is very important to remember the following: … If you purchase a property with community debts, you are responsible for such debts (up to the established limits). The idea is totally erroneous that any debt pending before becoming the owner is not your responsibility.
• The certificate is the only document which proves you are up to date with the fees. Neither a telephone conversation with the Administrator, nor a debt statement or a bank receipt of the last community fee payment, is legally valid.
• This certificate is of outmost importance as the purchaser is protected by this document, since if an error is found, the signatories will assume their responsibility.
• In conclusion, when purchasing a property belonging to a Community of Owners, always remember to request a certificate since it is the only guarantee that confirms the property is free of debts, and you will avoid potentially expensive surprises.
Article by COMMUNITY ADMINISTRATOR – Miguel Ángel Diez Perez (COL. 36)