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Spain Property Guide: The Comunidad de Proprietarios

The 'Comunidad de Proprietarios'

When buying a property on a Spanish housing estate you will automatically become member of a Community of Property Owners (comunidad de propietarios). You will have a right to vote at the annual general meeting and an obligation to pay the yearly fees. The only owners who do not belong are those who have bought a normal house in a village street or a country home with a large tract of land.

Comunidads maintain the grounds, installations and buildings in attractive order at a yearly cost to the members. This can add millions of pesetas of value to an ordinary house.

Some are quarrelsome however, and can leave necessary upkeep whilst your funds mysteriously disappear and debts are run up.

Therefore there are issues on this matter which, before buying the property, you should check:

Can I see the comunidad statutes?

Ask your seller, the administator of the comunidad, or the real estate promoter of a new building, for a copy of the statutes. This will give you inform on what you regulations you must abide by: i.e no dogs allowed etc.

How much must I pay every year?

Ask the seller for the receipt for paid-up comunidad fees. By law, he is obliged to provide this or an account of how much he owes. Then you can see the fee which has to be paid (determined by your percentage of the comunidad value). If the receipt is unavailable, you can visit the administrator of the comunidad who will be able to tell you.

Are the fees paid up?

Spain's law of 1999 requires the seller to produce a certificate from the president of the comunidad stating that the property's fees are either paid up, or to give the amount of the debt owed.
The seller of the property should arrange for this. The buyer can be held liable only for the comunidad fees of the current and previous year.

Does the comunidad have debts?

If money needs to be borrowed in order to pay for repairs on the building you will assume your percentage of this debt when becoming a member. For example, if extra payments were agreed upon to pay for a pool, you would take on these extra fees when becoming the owner. A good idea would be to study the minutes of the comunidad AGM from the president or administrator. This should inform you of any such developments.

Does the comunidad legally exist?

It is required by Spanish law that they legally exist, but some do not have a legal existence.
If it does not yet legally exist or is not properly registered, you will sooner or later have to sort out, either in the formation of the comunidad or in making it a legal body.
Unless these associations of owners are registered and the new buyers agree in their contracts to abide by the statutes, their rules may not be legally enforceable.

For more in depth information on property in Spain, we highly recommend:

Buying a Home in Spain
by David Hampshire

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