Unpaid Communal Fees

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14 May 2016 13:01 by ladygreen Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

Hi I would like some information please on how to get owners to pay their communal fees - our communal fees includes water and electric with the only additional fee of IBI tax every 12 months.  The debts have increased to stupid figures by some who come and abuse the complex and also rent out their property - is there a way we can take legal action in the UK and chase the debt there and if so will the brexit vote in June cause any additional problems  we are talking abut some owners owing over 30K euros and its harming us all and preventing improvements taking place 


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14 May 2016 13:36 by acer Star rating. 1424 posts Send private message

It's sadly a common problem.  First off you need to ensure that your documentation is 100% solid.  You need to be able to demonstrate that you have taken all necessary steps to be able to prove that you've requested payment over a reasonable period of time, without success. 

It's best to write a further letter spelling out the basics, telling the owner what the charge(s) are for preferably in their own language if known and in Spanish.  In doing so give them a reasonable time to pay, possibly a month, but be precise and make it clear if they fail to do so within this period you will be obliged to take action in the court and the amount payable by them will increase to cover these costs.

If at the end of the period there is no response I suggest you involve a solicitor.  The process is not difficult but you have behaved reasonably by undertaking the spadework yourself and the solicitors should be able to recover their costs.  People tend to pay up at this stage, but I believe that if the case goes to court the amount can be noted against the property at the Land Registry, so effectively the property cannot be sold until the debt is cleared.

There are also specialist debt collection agencies operating in Spain who can take action in the home country of the owner in most European countries, which might be preferable.  I have had no experience of dealing with them, but believe that they inflate the amount payable to cover their costs.

Good luck!

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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15 May 2016 10:29 by hugh_man Star rating in Kent/Roda . 1593 posts Send private message

hugh_man´s avatar

The biggest problem is allowing the debts to accrue in the first place.

At each and every AGM, you should all approve and publish the list of debtors and vote to take action against them.

Your Administrator should be advising you, but many are unused to the level of debt that has evolved since the crash.

Acer s comments about checking all paperwork and efforts to claim fees are quite correct along with proof of any approved actions at AGM.

You can vote to add a surcharge to unpaid fees or more sensibly, perhaps you should consider raising fees the giving a discount to those that pay on time, incentives are always well received.

You cannot deny debtors the basis utilities but you can probably deny use of pools or any other luxury facility..

You most certainly can commence a Proceedio Monitorio in Spain which would eventually result in a charge being placed on the property, to be paid before any sale or repossession.

Equally you can employ basic debt collection agencies, who's fees will be added to the debt.

If the debtor has assets elsewhere in Spain or Europe these can be at risk once the debt is proven.

The first thing the Administrator must do is apply for Nota Simples at the Land Registry to prove current ownership of the property, then follow the process Acer suggested befor handing over to professional debt collectors.


Good luck.

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29 May 2016 09:54 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9344 posts Send private message


Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA


Director www.costaluzlawyers.es

El blog de Maria

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29 May 2016 21:27 by tteedd Star rating in Hertfordshire & Punt.... 978 posts Send private message

Have and agree a fixed time scale for each action and make administrator responsible for following it without fear or favour:

2 weeks - reminder that payment has not been made and interest will be charged.

4 weeks - inform that legal action will be taken interest is being charged legal action will be taken and that debtors will be responsible for legal costs and interest.

6 Weeks - last warning.

8 weeks - commence legal action.

Apply strictly, If anyone thinks it is unfair, then tell them to help out. The community is not responsible or a charity.

Experience shows that communities that behave to a strict timescale end up with less debts, while communities that let it drag out end up with more debtors and unpaid debts. Some people do not see the wood for the trees and say 'why should I pay if they are not' or 'why should I pay for them'. If everyone can see that there is a firm process there are less consequential problems.

It takes about 4 years to go through the legal process. The warning of legal action usually results in payment. But, if not, early action is needed to ensure that the debts are not escaped from by time limitation.


Outside of this schedule (but not instead of) action can be taken in absent debtors home countries. The national small claims court in Northampton is effective in the UK.


This message was last edited by tteedd on 29/05/2016.

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29 May 2016 22:10 by acer Star rating. 1424 posts Send private message

That's right, people often under rate the small claims court, but it's been very useful.

I'm responsible for a small development of two blocks of flats in the UK and just the mention of the fact that a administrative fee will be added to those who don't cough up often does the trick,

This is quite permissable under the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002 whereby you can add a charge to cover additional admin costs.  I've found that people google it, find out that they're on a loser and pay up.  You wonder if such a charge is permissible for claims against Brits in the UK for Spanish debts?

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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30 May 2016 01:11 by hugh_man Star rating in Kent/Roda . 1593 posts Send private message

hugh_man´s avatar



I totally agree re strict controls but my understanding is in Spain you cannot commence legal action, Monitorio, until it has  been agreed at an AGM or EGM. So only debts up to the previous year can be claimed.

Full cost of completing Monitorio could reach 1500 euros so most Administrators/Lawyers suggest waiting until debt is nearer this figure.


Are you suggesting DebtvCollection Agency action after 8 weeks, rather than legal action?

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30 May 2016 11:39 by knj Star rating in Costa Blanca. 79 posts Send private message

If your Community had comprehensive insurance then the insurance company will take the legal action for you at no cost to the Community.  That´s what happens in our small community.


This message was last edited by knj on 30/05/2016.

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30 May 2016 11:56 by acer Star rating. 1424 posts Send private message

Sounds like you have a legal expenses extension on the combined policy knj.  It's unusual to include cover for the legal expenses for chasing debtors, normally it's just legal liability matters for injury loss of and damage to property.

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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30 May 2016 12:30 by hugh_man Star rating in Kent/Roda . 1593 posts Send private message

hugh_man´s avatar


Oncecagain, I was under the impression that fully comprehensive insurance as in UK could not be obtained in Spain.

Never heard of other Communities whose insurance company pays the cost of legal claims, surely must be expensive in a large Community.


Which insurer do you use, ours just up fir renewal.

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30 May 2016 14:12 by knj Star rating in Costa Blanca. 79 posts Send private message

We use Catalana Occidente at the moment (1879€ for20 houses, but no one needs building insurance as all covered inc. internal glass & pipes, so we all save about 150€ PA).  Real Seguros offer the same cover for 1035€, it was too late to change this year.

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31 May 2016 09:20 by acer Star rating. 1424 posts Send private message


You are effectively right in that the full policy cover you expect in the UK is not yet really available in Spain.  Currently there are a couple of UK based schemes for urbanisations in Spain but they have not taken off as I believe they've been found expensive compared to the local market.

There are a couple of Spanish insurers who seem to be making a pitch in the sector also, but their polcy wordings are appalling and the translations I've seen simply don't make sense.  I've read through a translation of the Real Seguros wording that  knj mentions and it's impossible to digest and 80 pages long!

Also their liability indemnity limits are extraordinarily low.  In the UK the third party norm is now at least £2m, often £5m - in Spain it's often a tenth of that, if you're lucky.  It seems that it's always been that way, but court awards for injury are generally far less than in the UK and the Spanish are less litigious and have lower expectations.

The legal expenses cover mentioned whereby insurers pay to chase those who don't pay their community charge is an oddity.  But Spanish insurers seem to sometimes pay claims which aren't covered, possibly for PR reasons.

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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06 Jul 2016 23:22 by hugh_man Star rating in Kent/Roda . 1593 posts Send private message

hugh_man´s avatar

Further evidence that some banks are still deliberately attempting to defraud the system and owners and their lawyers are not checking for debt certificates on repossessed property.


Property Xxxxxxx was sold by Buildingcenter yesterday and, once again , they have not paid the arrears. Since we have not been asked for a Debt Certificate either, we have already contacted the new owners to let them know they are now liable for these unpaid amounts.


Of course , these balances have been claimed to BC since we knew they became owners. In fact, this debt was even included in the Burofax sent to BC on 23rd June 2016 .

As you probably remember,  we were informed on 31st March 2016, although they were owners from May 2015 (but did not register it at all, perhaps waiting for selling the property without being required to pay).


 We hope this file may be solved soon , but, unfortunately,  I’m also afraid this is not the last time this is going to happen.

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07 Jul 2016 16:19 by ads Star rating. 4025 posts Send private message

Is it not considered part of the conveyancing lawyers due care and diligence to request debt certificates as part of the conveyancing process?

Are these lawyers the Bank's lawyers and not independent lawyers?

In which case if the clients were misled in any way, will this be considered as negligence on the part of the lawyers, or would the Bank and lawyer be jointly and severally negligent?

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07 Jul 2016 18:09 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message

In transactions I have been associated over the past 20 years, each Notary has insisted on a certificate  from the president that all community fees were up to date,  and a Nota Simple from the property registry office, was issued no more than 24 hours previously, showing any debts registered against the property, before he/she would proceed with  the transaction. 

I do not know if that is law, but I thought it was.


I do not know what a lawyer might or might not do, I have never employed one, but with or without a lawyer it is the notary who has the last say whether or not the transaction proceeds.

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07 Jul 2016 20:39 by ads Star rating. 4025 posts Send private message

Maria, if the client has been compromised in this process who would they report this to? Who is responsible for monitoring Bank's continuing manipulative abuses of this nature, and are there any procedures in place to fine the Banks to act as effective deterrent?

Who is ultimately accountable, the Bank, the conveyancing lawyer, the notary?

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07 Jul 2016 21:13 by hugh_man Star rating in Kent/Roda . 1593 posts Send private message

hugh_man´s avatar

Good question Ads that I hope Maria could answer, it is possible that buyers of repossessed properties are using lawyers close to the bank and the lawyer and notary public are both complicit but you would think there is some regulation to stop this abuse.

Bad enough for the bank to repossess in 2015 but not change ownership in Land Registry but attempting to de fraud the Communities and potentially the buyer is criminal behaviour, that needs to be stamped out.

This sort of behaviour in Spain was one of the many  reasons I am still in favour of Brexit under its current practices.

It is not working yet we are told the EU is good for regulation.

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08 Jul 2016 06:03 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

Seems like this is drifting from the op question about recovering from debts by owners nor paying community fees to transferring debt on a sale 


In my xx number of years on EOS this drifting us common practice thoughwink

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”

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08 Jul 2016 08:59 by ads Star rating. 4025 posts Send private message

It is absolutely wrong for owners to refuse to pay their community fees during their ownership period which has never been in dispute, in fact this has been reinforced on all too many occasions when methods to regain those monies have been analysed and debated on EOS.

Where it becomes equally wrong ( again emphasised on many occasions) is the SYSTEM that fails not only to effectively enforce payment during ownership periods ( via swift STANDARDISED legal fine procedures in place to protect), but also to effectively enforce MANDATORY repayment of debt at point of sale.

And this is where Banks have unethically exploited the system to their own ends ( as they do with abusive delays in the justice system) following repossession of properties, when many Banks (as standard practice ) have refused to recognise their legal obligations upon repossession.

They have then perpetuated unethical practice by trying to hide those legal obligations via a SYSTEM lacking in mandatory practice that has "allowed them"  to pass on their debts to " unsuspecting" owners.

What needs to be reviewed here is a SYSTEM that not only relies upon notaries and legal professionals to  consistently fulfill their due diligences at point of sale, and Banks to act ethically and responsibly, but also a system that has failed to set in place MANDATORY inbuilt deterrents ( fines) and MANDATORY procedures to prohibit such malpractice, unethical behaviour, or fraud in the first place.

But this system also then relies upon a transparent backup monitoring system to adequately deal with  complaints at a sufficiently high level so as to effectively recognise and respond to patterns of abusive practice and fraud within the whole conveyancing process in Spain in order to gain effective reform of a system that sadly fails to protect those against whom abuses are continuing to be perpetrated.

What I fail to comprehend is why there is not a MANDATORY system in place to prohibit abuse at point of sale, together with a more standardised legal system  of fines to swiftly and effectively deal with ongoing abuse.


This message was last edited by ads on 08/07/2016.

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08 Jul 2016 12:15 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

recovery of unpaid community fees is a farce

the HPA is rammed down communities throats and has many problems

many town halls are all over home owners for monies when they do home improvments,

neighbours can object against home improvements and action is swift and often brutal by the authorities

Does anyone offer help in recovering debts - NO

Such a shambles and one of the many reasons why we left an urbanistaion


“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”

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