Selling up and moving to Spain is on many of our lists of aspirations, but what if things go wrong and you end up going with a dodgy estate agent? Well, if you are buying a property in Andalucia then you will get a certain degree of comfort from Decreto 218 which has been designed to protect the consumer during the buying process.
What Is Decreto 218?
Decreto 218 is a law which came into force in 2005 in Andalucia, and is designed to help protect consumers in the property market. In the years leading up to the creation of the law there had been a spate of complaints by customers regarding the sometimes unethical practices being employed by a minority of estate agents, and the law was therefore brought in to counter this.
Spain's property market is incredibly important to the economy, and as most foreigners choose to move to the south coast this could be why there were more problems occurring here than in other parts of the country. Foreigners can be even more at risk than locals because of the ability to misunderstand important documentation, so the new law allows them to get a clear picture of exactly what they are getting into when they buy a property in Spain.
The new law applies to any property that will be lived in, either by the buyer or by the tenants in the case of a buy-to-let property. If you are buying a property as a place of business then the real estate professional will not have to comply with the regulations of Decreto 218.
All real-estate professionals have to comply with the law, and the only people who do not have to comply with it are private sellers. However, if you buy a property in Andalucia then you will find that most private sellers still choose to abide by it.
What Does Decreto 218 Mean For You?
There are four main areas where the Decreto 218 comes into effect:
Displaying official signs
The DIA and the FI
The Nota Explicativa
Below we have presented each of these areas in more detail.
The first thing you will notice when you are looking for a property in Andalucia is that they all have to stick to the same guidelines. If a property is advertised, no matter in what format, whether in the window of the agency, on the internet or in a magazine, there is a minimum level of information that needs to be included, such as:
Your right to a DIA form
This has been implemented to prevent properties being advertised in a misleading way, and all real-estate professionals have to stick to these regulations.
Displaying Official Signs
When you visit the business property of someone selling a property, which will usually be an estate agent, they must have two signs clearly displayed in their place of work. These two signs must state that the agency complies with Decreto 218, and that they will provide the free documentation required by the law if an enquiry is made about a property.
The DIA And The FI
The DIA stands for Documento Informativo Abreviado, and contains all the information regarding the property that you are enquiring about, such as location, price, taxes, licenses, and much more besides. It is a requirement for any new-build properties, rental properties and properties that have had changes made to them since they last changed hands.
The FI stands for Ficha Informativa, and this is the same as the DIA but is only applicable for resale properties.
The fundamental information that you need to know about both of these documents is that you do not have to ask for them as it is the legal obligation of the estate agent to provide them to you as soon as you enquire about a particular property. They are also completely free of charge.
The nota explicativa is another free piece of documentation that is provided along with either the DIA or the FI. It carries further detailed information about the property in question, mainly surrounding financial matters such as how much it costs, how you can pay for it and any hidden costs involved. Although it is free you have to sign to confirm that you have received it.
What Happens When Decreto 218 Is Not Followed?
The authorities in Andalucia are very strict when it comes to enforcing Decreto 218, and any real-estate professional who is found to be in breach of their obligations will be forced to pay a fine. Fines vary in size from ?5,000 to ?40,000, making them hefty enough to prevent people from trying to get around the system.
Decreto 218 Benefits Customers
Decreto 218 was designed for you, the customer. It allows you to buy a property in Andalucia without fear that you could end up paying costs that you were not aware of and that you know exactly what you are getting into before making the purchase. Real-estate professionals have also found it beneficial because it has helped to improve the overall reputation of the industry.