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EXPAT PENSIONERS are free to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment and a £200 windfall
Thursday, August 30, 2012

EXPAT PENSIONERS were delighted to learn this week they were free to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment and a £200 windfall to help keep warm in Spain’s cold season.

A European Court of Justice ruling earlier this year has forced the UK Government to pay the bonus to its pensioners living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, yet many people did not know of the change in their benefit rights.

Until the judgement, only pensioners claiming the payment before they left Britain were able to receive it – some 73,000 people. The landmark ruling decision means around 444,000 expats can apply for the cash. Those over 80 receive £300.

Claims for the coming winter, 20012/13, must be made by 31st March 2013 and people must show a “genuine and sufficient” link to the UK – factors to be considered are how long a person lived and worked in Britain and whether they receive a UK State Pension and other benefits.

Only one payment per household will be made and the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) said claims cannot be backdated.

The Winter Fuel Payment has long been a thorny subject. Expats say they paid their taxes while living and working in the UK yet whether they received the allowance was a lottery depending on when they moved to Spain.

Read more at RTN



Like 0        Published at 9:32 PM   Comments (5)

Pitfalls of renting property
Thursday, August 9, 2012

EXPATS RENTING out property to holidaymakers were warned this week they could face huge fines if they fail to comply with Spanish law.

The rental market is booming but the British Embassy said there have been a number of cases where homeowners have been fined up to 30,000€ for failing to have the correct permits.

And as a result the embassy has published advice on the website UKinSpain for would-be landlords who either rent out property or are considering doing so.

A spokesman said for short term lets, either tourist apartments or holiday homes, the regulations varied across different regions but if owners were planning to make a financial return by renting an existing property or buying a property to let, they were advised to seek independent legal advice and check licensing laws at the town hall.

He said: “In some areas the authorities are cracking down on homeowners who rent out their properties to tourists, particularly through online adverts, without complying with Spanish law.”

Homeowners should also check that if the property is part of a ‘communidad de propietarios’ – a committee of owners responsible for the management of community areas of apartments and complexes – there were no rules prohibiting or restricting short-term letting.

Generally for long-term lets, the spokesman said there was no need for a special licence but it was still worth seeking professional advice to make sure the rental complied with the law and owners used the correct contract.

An ‘arriendos de vivienda’ was a contract for a minimum of five years and an ‘arriendos de temporada’ was for a year or less. Copies are available from tobacconists.

And the spokesman warned: “Owners of properties should also be aware that whether or not they are resident in Spain, they need to declare rental income to the Spanish tax authorities. Homeowners may wish to seek advice from a professional tax advisor.”

He said it was also worth considering using a Spanish-based letting agent to help find tenants, draw up contracts and help manage the property.

Source: RTN

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