Thinking of buying a property in Spain? - Avoiding the pitfalls

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04 Jun 2014 11:26 by AUAN Star rating. 48 posts Send private message


Our association, AUAN, is one of a number of associations representing homeowners who came unstuck when they purchased their 'dream home in the sun'.  Our experiences were recently covered on national Spanish television. A subtitled version of the programme can be viewed here : It serves as a salutory tale of why you need to proceed with caution when buying a property in Spain.

The British Embassy provides some good advice for those wishing to buy. The information is based on the experiences of those that came before you, so please take note:

Good luck with your purchase :)


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06 Jun 2014 06:00 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9302 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct


This message was last edited by mariadecastro on 06/06/2014.

This message was last edited by mariadecastro on 06/06/2014.


Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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06 Jun 2014 15:10 by AUAN Star rating. 48 posts Send private message

Our latest press release represents a fairly typical example of the type of scenario that comes to light these days.... We don't issue this sort of story to bring doom and gloom. Rather we wish to ensure that homeowners are informed and we would be most obliged if the government at both a regional (Andalucia) and national level would get off their backsides and do something about it.......


Prosecutor asks for demolition of 13 houses in Partaloa

AUAN, 6th June 2014

Here we go again. Another setback in the continuing saga of planning chaos that plagues various parts of Spain, including Andalucía, as recently covered by  the TV programme Comando Actualidad on national Spanish TV. This time it is not only the British who are affected but also Belgians who bought houses in the area of Piedra Amarilla, in the hamlet of Partaloa. The State Prosecutor is asking for the demolition of 13 houses in this area.
The Prosecution is not accusing these EU citizens of any wrongdoing.  A criminal case has been brought against the promoter and the company, Lakes Vega S.L., for planning crimes which carry a penalty of one year and six months in prison and a ban from the building trade. Legal sources indicate that it is unlikely that any actual prison time would be served.  The Prosecutor has also charged other individuals with planning corruption.
As obliged to do so by the Penal Code, the prosecutor is asking for demolition of the houses and states that the promoter should compensate the buyers. However, the normal chain of events in such cases is that the house is demolished first and the victims then start an uncertain struggle to obtain compensation from the promoter. The problem is that, as we have seen in Vera and in Cantoria, in practice the victims are left without a house and without compensation.
Maura Hillen, president of the homeowners association, AUAN, which campaigns on this issue, said “This nonsensical scenario is set out in article 319.3 of the Penal Code. We are asking for this article to be changed.  It does not make sense that the only people who are really punished for these types of crimes are the victims.  We petitioned Sr. Esteban Gonzalez Pons  and other senior figures of the Partido Popular on this issue when we met with them several weeks ago. They promised to study our proposed change but we have heard nothing. We have made the same proposal to other political parties and, as reported in the press,  the PSOE have promised legislative changes to resolve all this legal and planning uncertainty.  But we are still waiting for any concrete results.  At the moment the only ones who seem likely to see results, in this case disastrous ones, are the victims, when the case goes to trial on 13th June.”
AUANs legal advisor, Gerardo Vazquez, said ‘ What we can see here is the next wave of victims, the Belgians. I have spoken to some of them, specifically a person who purchased one of these houses very recently and is shocked by this news. One of the problems is that the Land Registry is not updated to reflect the existence of these proceedings. The homeowners that I have spoken to have escrituras with every appearance of legality, registered at the Land Registry, without any indication of criminal proceedings.  Here we obviously have a problem with the issue of legal certainty.”

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07 Jun 2014 09:07 by acer Star rating. 1365 posts Send private message

Dear Auan,

Thanks for your posta and I sincerely wish you well with your valuable work.

But your comment that the "British Embassy provides some good advice" grates a with me.  This advice is 10/15 years too late and for many somewhat after the hourse has bolted.

IMHO their input could be described as too little too late.  Surely they should be rather more active politically and it's about time they got their diplomatic finger out.  But that's just my opinion from the sidelines, you might know differently.

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07 Jun 2014 11:48 by Mickyfinn Star rating in Spain and France. 1839 posts Send private message

One of the greatest pit falls to buying a second home in Spain apart from potential legal problems are the related costs associated with it. Most people underestimate them.

Never assume renting it out will cover your expenses.

Maintenance costs increase annually. Things go wrong it costs.

Risk of break-ins and theft.

If you buy a villa with pool, gardening and pool costs are expensive.

Airflights and car hire are not cheap in the peak holiday season and often other times when you want to travel..

Taxes are increasing especially for second homes. Utility standing charges are high. Property values are at best static and liable to fall further over the long term. Interest rates will rise.

Better uses for your money, hotels etc, more interesting destinations than Spain, freedom of choice. Going to the same place every year will eventually become dull. Investment returns on your money pays for holidays, second homes are a constant drain on your resources.

Time is the school in which we learn Time is the fire in which we burn. Delmore Schwartz.

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07 Jun 2014 12:05 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5241 posts Send private message

Good advice from MIckyfinn.

Also be aware that letting your property in Spain is nowhere near as straight forward as many, including agents, will tell you and like you to believe. Many who let, do so in ignorance of the legal requirements, having been mislead by 'experts' who either do not know themselves or maybe have a vested interest.

The bottom line is:  It is not cost effective to let one property, after you have obtained all the paperwork, permissions, paid the taxes, cleaning, replacements, damages and possibly  IVA (if you employ someone to manage it)   etc.

I have lived in Spain over 25 years and speak Spanish sufficiently well to be able to negotiate all the problems, if letting was viable,  and I have some years of  letting experience.  

My son has a holiday home here, which he would like to sell, but as we know this not the time to buy, despite what some people have been saying (wrongly as it has proved) for the past couple of years, during which time the market has continued to decline.

Thus my son has allowed a friend to live in his apartment, completely free of charge (to avoid the problems associated with letting) until such time as thing may improve.  He is in his third year of occupation, taking care of my son’s (very long term) investment.

PS  Another potential problem with letting is that the owner is responsible for all insured losses by visitors in relation to the let.  No holiday insurance pays for what the owner is responsible for,  including cancelled fights , or re-locating the visitors to another property ,  if the rented property were to become uninhabitable, say through fire or flood. If you do not believe this, check with the assessors dept of any insurance company, not just the people who sell the cover as they often do not know.

This message was last edited by johnzx on 07/06/2014.

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07 Jun 2014 12:53 by AUAN Star rating. 48 posts Send private message

Acer, you make a fair point with regard to the reaction time of the British Embassy but the advice now available is well researched and useful. It also provides links to associations such as ours should you run into difficulty.

Our real frustration is with the national and regional governments of Spain who have failed to do anything at all.

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08 Jun 2014 16:50 by Poedoe Star rating in Berkshire, England. 83 posts Send private message

The greatest mistake we made when purchasing our new Apartment in Spain was to trust the Builder, alway make sure all the paperwork which includes the Habitation Certificate has been granted by the local government council. we are now 8 years after completing on our property and still the Spanish Habitation Certificate has not been granted. the Builder owes several Thousands to the purchasers of our complex, we are still paying high Community fees to, swell the fund for the completion of several parts of the complex which incluses the individual Utility meters (which the builder charged €900 at the purchase completion) even with receipts we are still waiting, The Lawyer, Escutura & Builder all charges us the legallly ? completion yet wr are still waiting.


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10 Oct 2014 15:20 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9302 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

Legal tip 1075. Registrars, Notaries and Planning regulations 
02 December 2013 @ 12:40 

Notaries and Registrars have historically been guarantoors of the private side of legalities related to property ownership: Owner, title, loans and encumbrances, means of payments, correct registration of ownership to give public faith of these private transactions before third parties.

Even in  Land Act of 2007 it was not clear that  Notary and Registrar must require First Occupation License to authorize / register deeds of end of works.

Notaries wrote an online guide by that time where they wondered about this requisite of the article on End of Works deeds:

b ) the documentary evidence of compliance with all requirements imposed by the legislation regulating the building to deliver it to their users

What document does this refer to? They guessed then:

Ten-years obligatory building insurance? Habitation License? Book of the building?
It was in 2011 , when Land Act started too mention specific obligations of Notaries and Registrars in regards to checking on Urban legalities. Then in 2013,  these obligations were made much more precise and clear:   

Notaries :

New building deed:

End of Works deed: 


They need to verify all requirements above before registering the end of works deed.

When registering finished works they need to verify very strictly on existence of any urban irregularity.

So, in short words, it is not till June 2013 that the Land Registry offers a high level of safety in regards of the planning/zonning status of houses. For all houses built and registered before then, a good independent lawyers is necessary for verifying those aspects.

Demolitions? Possibly not as many as the press mentions and always a claim being possible against Local Councils is they issued licenses against Regional Urban Rules.

Legal adviceSierra of Grazalema, Cádiz, South of Spain, at


Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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DISCLAIMER:  All opinions posted on these message boards are the opinion solely of the poster and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Eye on Spain, its servants or agents.

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