Conflict in the Community

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05 Aug 2009 12:38 by spanishsolicitor Star rating in Murcia. 140 posts Send private message

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Don’t worry Morerosado. I am not offended.

From a legal point of view, how can I help your dearest friend? I mean, what do you want to know excatly about commonhold law in Spain? Now is your turn.

 



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05 Aug 2009 12:47 by morerosado Star rating in Guardamar del Segura.... 6927 posts Send private message

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Hopefully Suzi will be able to post herself, I've asked her if she's logged in so I hope she's picked up her emails.

If she's still unable to post I've offered to post on her behalf.

Thank you for any help you can offer her. Much appreciated.



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08 Aug 2009 21:11 by Suzi Star rating in La Cala de Mijas. 23 posts Send private message

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 First of all, thank you Morerosado for all you help   It seems you were right - I needed to be logged in to respond!

From a legal point of view, what I would like to know is whether there is a mediating body (or, as I said previously, a governing body of communities) that we could approach to help us with regard to the problems we are experiencing.

I find it appalling that it is commonplace for such extreme behaviour to be tolerated at community meetings - to quote 'Spanish Solicitor': "It seems that sometimes you have to call the police and sometimes you have to do so.  Some owners vent their anger by insulting everybody, blocking the normal ongoing of the community and breaching every rule.  It is a constant fight for those presidents or administrators actually working for the benefit of the community."  

Surely this is anarchy?



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09 Aug 2009 18:54 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

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Suzi, I am not aware of any such "mediating" body.  Unfortunately anarchy, as you call it, does seem to be the general order of the day in many communities in Spain, and ultimately as Spanishsolicitor has said, if things get violent, and they invariably do, the police may have to be called. Otherwise, I suppose it's a matter for the courts. If a sufficient number of community members can get together to demand a change of presidency / administration, under the Horizontal Law I think this would have to be honoured, but actually enforcing it would be another matter.

Spanishsolicitor also commented: "It is nothing to do with nacionalities as much as plain bad manners and selfishness". At the risk of being pilloried, I'm not so sure. A neighbour of mine owns a property east of Malaga where the vast majority of owners are German. Apparantly community meetings are a paragon of orderliness and efficiency. No surprise there. I used to own a flat in a block with communal grounds and facilities in the UK. Never any problems whatsover. A professional management company took care of everything, and once a year a nominated secretary from among the owners audited the accounts to ensure everything was kosher. Other than that, we just lived in blissful ignorance of how everything was kept clean and tidy and functioning. Apathy perhaps, but no anarchy. Why does that rarely happen in Spain? I don't know. Personally, I believe there is a fundamental flaw in the way communities are set up and run here. I just don't think that leaving so much in the hands of a bunch of people who do not seem to have a grasp on the meaning of mutual respect and understanding, is a good idea. I think it would be very interesting to hear from members who own or have owned property in other countries, about how things work there.

 

 



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09 Aug 2009 21:45 by 1962 Star rating in Iznalloz. 182 posts Send private message

Hi All,

I am also in a community where at the moment everything is ok but as the list of non payers (community charge) gets longer, who knows how long before things start to go pear shaped.  I wonder how many prospective buyers were told what living within a community actually entailed, we certainly were not. No estate agent or solicitor is going to say to you now don't forget Mr. and Mrs. joe bloggs once you are in this community the fun will start, you may have corrupt administrators and presidents, you will be paying for a swimming pool that you probably cannot get a decent swim in because it is filled with inflatables belonging to the darling children of the tenents of the letting apartments. Whose parents are too busy getting a tan to wonder what their offspring are up to.  The Community rules, well that's a laugh, balconies covered in swimsuits, towels, items of clothing etc. Oh and don't even put a sign that says please close the door quietly at the hall entrance because that is interpreted to mean please bang this door as loud as you possibly can, or even, don't close it at all the wind will do the job and smash the glass also. And don't get me going about the noise.  I (and my husband of course)  were under the impression when we bought that we were just one of many who were buying to live in Spain, instead the reality of it all is that the so called communities are little more than holiday complexes, and the priorites of a permanent resident and a buy to let owner are totally different.  Community living in Spain is rubbish as far as I am concerned.

Regards Kathy

 

 



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09 Aug 2009 22:31 by Suzi Star rating in La Cala de Mijas. 23 posts Send private message

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 Kathy, you have nailed it as far as I am concerned!  

If anyone had told me the realities of living in a so called 'community' before I bought a property here in Spain I would have avoided it at all costs.  Certainly I would have gone for a villa on a plot of land where I could live free from all this hassle.  

As you quite rightly say, and Roberto seems to agree, there is a fundamental flaw in the way communities are set up and operate here.  Our British president refused 'back handers' and that made him very unpopular, in spite of the fact that he was running the community better than it had ever been run before.  The whole system is corrupt and, it seems to me, that there is very little that can be done about it.  We have tried to put through changes, following the Horizontal Law, but they have been ignored.

As I love living in Spain and enjoy the lifestyle, I do not intend to give it all up because I find community life difficult.  I will continue to represent the 'foreigners' in our community and TRY to work with our new Spanish president and his allies to improve the urbanisation and reduce the community debt.  However, as soon as property prices start to pick up, I will be putting my house on the market and look for a place where I can live without the stress of being involved with a bunch of racist people who resent our presence and continually disregard our opinions and our rights.                                         



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09 Aug 2009 23:17 by 1962 Star rating in Iznalloz. 182 posts Send private message

Hi Suzi,

Hope things improve for you I know how much stress it must be causing you, I am in Calahonda just down the road from you,

Regards Kathy



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09 Aug 2009 23:46 by Suzi Star rating in La Cala de Mijas. 23 posts Send private message

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 Hi Kathy (and I wonder if you're the Kathy I know or someone else!)

It would be great to meet up with you some time and share our 'experiences'!

Calahonda is, as you say, just down the road from me - let's have a coffee or 'do lunch' soon!

Best wishes,

Suzi x



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10 Aug 2009 09:16 by spanishsolicitor Star rating in Murcia. 140 posts Send private message

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Suzi, I am very sorry to hear about such a disgusting people you have in your community. Unfortunately, there is not an ombudsman scheme for commonholds like this provided by section 41 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (which came into force on 27 September 2004 in England and Wales). In your country such ombudsman is modelled on the independent housing ombudsman, who has a wide range of dispute resolution procedures at his disposal, including arbitration, mediation and adjudication.

Many elements of communities’ governance are subject to interpretation, and that's true in virtually any human endeavour. While fair and effective governance is a critical component of any successful community, owners have responsibilities as well.

Purchasing in a community constitutes a contractual agreement and common bond between the owner and the community and among the owners themselves.

This means that owners have agreed to pay their assessments in full and on time, comply with their community governing documents and maintain their properties according to established standards.

In return, commonholders should be given every opportunity to take advantage of all the community has to offer.

Owners also have the right to expect their offices to govern fairly, responsibly and in accordance with their community’s documents and the law.

 

Currently, a new trend is emerging in some communities. They are agreeing by unanimity to implement arbitration under the Arbitration Act 60/2003. The idea is that owners do not turn to their lawyers at the first opportunity but have difficulties revolved by arbitration instead.

 

 



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10 Aug 2009 11:56 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9344 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

http://www2.icamalaga.es/funcio/legales/coleg6/lphingles.htm

Above the Horizontal Property Act: Every owner needs to have it at hand..... of course, a good administrator and an independent legal advisor you can always reach to verify if agreements or measures taken by Community members/ Administrator are acccording to Law.



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10 Aug 2009 15:28 by Suzi Star rating in La Cala de Mijas. 23 posts Send private message

Suzi´s avatar

 Thank you for the link to the Horizontal Law Maria.  

Could you (or anyone else) also advise me if we are entitled to a translator at the community meetings?  We are a community of 60% Spanish owners and 40% non-Spanish.  All meetings are held in Spanish and most of us, even with a good understanding of Spanish, are often completely confused as to what is happening.

 



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10 Aug 2009 17:24 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9344 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

Unless agreed otherwise ( just majority is needed, and in this case, the community will pay for it), you need to pay for the translation services but of course you have rights to have a translator at the Meetings



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10 Aug 2009 17:36 by spanishsolicitor Star rating in Murcia. 140 posts Send private message

spanishsolicitor´s avatar

Suzi, you are not entitled to have a translator spanish-english (provided by the community) if your Owners’ Committee has not passed a resolution on this respect. This issue of language at meetings has been dealt by rulings of the Supreme Court (15-Nov-2002) Court of Appeal Tenerife 15 May 2009 CA Las Palmas (7-May-1999 and 2 April 2003) and CA Malaga (30-Dec-2005, 16-Jan-2006)

 

 


 



This message was last edited by spanishsolicitor on 10/08/2009.

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10 Aug 2009 18:25 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

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" I (and my husband of course)  were under the impression when we bought that we were just one of many who were buying to live in Spain, instead the reality of it all is that the so called communities are little more than holiday complexes, and the priorites of a permanent resident and a buy to let owner are totally different."

1962, you raise a good point about the differing priorities of residents and holiday / buy to let owners, but nevertheless, community problems such as those described here are not limited to holiday complexes. The same can be said of inner city apartment blocks with no communal facilities other than the lifts and corridors. Wherever you have people living in close proximity (and this applies the world over, but definitely more so in certain cultures than others) you will have disputes. Good luck with finding your idyllic patch of land with an independent house on. I just hope you are prepared for the highly probable possibility that some day, despite your paid for council permit banning parking across your driveway, some lout with a total lack of respect for other people's property and rights blocks your access and calls you names and threatens you for politely asking him to move it!



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10 Aug 2009 22:35 by Poppyseed Star rating. 898 posts Send private message

I hate living on a community although in 2001 when we started the buying process it seemed like a good idea, it has turned into a nightmare with a badly run community that is running the place down.  The high handedness and bad manners of the president is breathtaking. We have owned property in Spain since 1984, our first place on a small urb on CDS. That didn't have any problems we were aware of, gardens and pool well maintained, but it was mainly ex-pats.

We own an apartment in the UK that we let out, it has beautiful communal gardens and everything is in tip top condition. It is run by a committee of residents as a limited company with the residents as shareholders, nothing is left to deteriorate, regular maintenance takes place and there is no argy bargy.

We have also owned property in USA that was run by the Homeowners Association, again no problems whatsoever, a beautiful well run community.

I have come to the conclusion that Spain in general is quite disorganized, there is a lot of arrogance and in some cases discrimination. Like Suzi when the time is right we will be off, probably out of Spain altogether, my nerves wont stand it much longer!

Regards, Poppyseed



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11 Aug 2009 12:07 by Karensun Star rating in Orihuela Costa. 1474 posts Send private message

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Please, don't always blame the Presidente.... (     'The high handedness and bad manners of the president is breathtaking.' )......

I know I am biased................'cos my OH is Presidente........................BUT high handedness and bad manners consistantly comes from others ( and I won't specify ), as does vandalism and nastiness, not to mention total disregard for Community or Spanish Law.



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11 Aug 2009 12:40 by Poppyseed Star rating. 898 posts Send private message

Hi Karensun,

I fully appreciate the difficulties of being president or any other committe member and I do not make the statment about our president lightly. I know those doing a good job feel upset when these criticisms are made, as a civil servant I am used to having to listen whilst the civil service is often unfairly criticised but accept that sometimes it is justified and all I can do is carry on and do my job the best I can.  I assure you the high handedness and bad manners of our president is breathtaking, democracy does not seem to figure in their vocabulary. eg. totally ignored requests for AGM agenda items, tried to physically attack an owner at a meeting (twice) who was actually being quite polite but the president didn't like what they were saying, has tantrums in public, sacked adminstrator without EGM or explanation, and so it goes on. (Thats not even going into the denuncias against them that are awaiting sentence.)

Regards, Poppyseed



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11 Aug 2009 18:40 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

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...and yet, they were put in the position by way of a (supposedly) democratic voting process. Perhaps nobody else offered themselves up to be slaughtered on the sacrificial alter of community presidency? Do you fully appreciate the difficulties? How long did you last in the job, I wonder?

No offence meant, I'm just teasing as usual, BUT.......it brings me back to my point about the way communities are set up and run here. Personally, I just don't feel that having a member of the community, an owner, being in charge and having legal authority over their neighbours is ever going to work (in Spain). I'm not sure what the alternative is though, because in a country / culture where routine corruption and laxadaisical if not outright unscrupulous business practices are the norm rather than the exception, I don't see how an independent body with no direct vested interest in the property can be trusted to handle things either. Classic Catch 22. In the UK, I don't remember anyone ever even thinking of questioning whether our management company was acting in our best interests or giving value for money. In many cases here, owners who put themselves forward for the presidency do so because they have finally accepted that nobody is going to look after their asset better than themselves, not an administrator nor another neighbour. Sadly, there are also those who see an opportunity to use the position to satisfy some primordal meglomaniacal urge and / or bleed the coffers dry to line their own pockets.



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11 Aug 2009 22:12 by Suzi Star rating in La Cala de Mijas. 23 posts Send private message

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Roberto, you are so good at wrapping things up and explaining situations perfectly!

I do appreciate your comments and, if my experience (and that of our erstwhile British ex-president) are anything to go by, all that you say is absolutely true.  As you said previously, there is a fundamental flaw in the way communities are set up here in Spain.  Anyone with a vested interest is sure to become embroiled in the 'backhander' scenario and, if they choose not to, they are vilified and ostracised because they are not part of the 'accepted' Spanish way of doing business.

The saddest outcome of all of this is that I moved to Spain two years ago with an open heart and a desire to integrate with the Spanish people.  I was not prepared or expecting to be the subject of racism and prejudice - how naive!  I am, apparently, a 'giri' (a nasty word for a 'foreigner') and merely tolerated by most of my Spanish neighbours.  I have been learning Spanish since I arrived here, I even look Spanish (because my mother is Maltese) but, as soon as I open my mouth, attitudes change and doors are closed.

I wonder if this is just because I am part of a community that is very anti-expats or if this is the feeling of most Spanish people?  I sincerely hope not.



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12 Aug 2009 01:32 by 1962 Star rating in Iznalloz. 182 posts Send private message

Hi roberto,

I agree with most of what you say, and you seem to have an awful lot of knowledge to impart, but what I was getting at was that myself and my husband were naive in the fact that all our neighbours were not going to be permanent residents.  A permanent resident is more likely to have an interest and take more care of the community they live in (and before you tell me I know there are always going to be the exeptions to the rule)  the buy to let owners who have now fallen foul of the credit crunch and cannot maybe pay their mortgage let alone their community charge along with certain residents who don't care and have no intention of paying are the ones who are going to put the community in disrepair for one reason or another. On one thread I think some of the committee members did not live permanently within the community, so what good are they to anybody, and you yourself mentioned that people are breaking into and using, garages belonging to owners who are not permanent residents, and the said residents are blaming the president, how irresponsible is that, they seem to think that the community should baby sit their property for them.  last March at our AGM we were told that the default list of non payers was 49,000 euros, and I stood up and asked the question what if that doubles by the next AGM and was told we would have to cut the gardeners and cleaners working rota to shorter hours and maybe shut down one of the pools to save money.  (We have a good administrator and president and Suzanne, we also have an interpretor so we must pay that in our fees)  If a community was occupied by  permanent residents  I am sure costs could be cut in half, owners could get together and do the gardens themselves and clean their own hallways and stairs and chip in and do the odd repair, change light bulbs etc. There must be a lot of retired males out there who are getting bored with doing nothing every day. (Sorry forgot us women like to garden also) I know this would be in a perfect world. We retired here last year leaving all our shackles behind or so we thought, and now their is the constant niggle at the back of my mind that whatever happens within the community it is part of my responsibility because I own a part share of it. Roberto what happens in a case where maybe a community goes bankrupt are we as owners liable and maybe even taken to court?  I didn't want all this , but nor did thousands of other I am sure.

Regards Kathy

 

 


 



This message was last edited by 1962 on 12/08/2009.



This message was last edited by 1962 on 12/08/2009.



This message was last edited by 1962 on 12/08/2009.

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