Recovering Community Fee Debts From Overseas Owners

Published on 29/10/2011 in Your Spanish Home

Over the years here at Eye on Spain we’ve provided a considerable amount of information as to how communities in Spain are run and the importance that owners pay their community fees.

Communities need money, they need every owner to pay every month what they are obliged to pay, according to their particular payment coefficient as stated in their title deeds, “escritura”.

Paying the community fee is not an option; it is an essential bill which needs to be paid, just as important as the electricity and water bills.

Without enough money a community cannot pay its own communal bills; electricity for running the lifts and community lighting; cleaners; water for the pool; gardener; communal pump maintenance, etc.

It truly is unforgivable that an owner believes it is fine not to pay and let the other owners then cover the shortfall in the community income.

Unfortunately in many communities, overseas owners, being far enough way, often either forget or don’t bother to make their contributions, many racking up debts in the thousands of Euros.

These are very hard times for everyone and every owner mush accept their responsibility to contributing to the running of the community. It’s not an option; it’s an owner’s legal obligation to pay their share of ever tightening community budgets.

We recently came across a service which assists in recovering community debts from overseas owners and wanted to share it with you. Have a read of the following information and see if your own community needs a service like this.

It doesn’t cost the community any money. The cost is added to the owner’s outstanding debt.

Community Fees"Communityfees.com is a cross border debt recovery service specialising in the recovery of outstanding community fees. They provide a fast and efficient solution to the financial constraints placed on communities due to ever increasing unpaid community fees.

Working with over 270 communities they have the experience to understand the needs of individual communities and provide a service tailored to meet those needs. Communities face many issues on a day-to-day basis and don’t need community fee debtors be one of them!

They utilise the latest software to ensure that their work is streamlined, with the added benefit that the community can have 24 hour secure online access. This transparency means that no President or Administrator is ever in the dark as to the steps they are taking.

In the last 2 years they have successfully recovered over €1.5 million of debt at no cost to the communities themselves. Using EU legislation they recover the debt in the UK and Irish courts rather than using the Spanish legal system which can be slow and ineffectual. Based both in the UK and Spain their dedicated team work with you to find a solution to a problem you thought was impossible to achieve.

For more information visit their website www.communityfees.com or email them at enquiries@communityfees.com"
 

Written by: EOS Team

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Comments:

Poedoe said:
09 January 2016 @ 12:03

Community fees, are unpaid mostly by the nationals, who are residents. now the Utilities have been cut from the homes that owe thousand in unpaid community fees. They have all moved out, we therefore do not have to pay the huge utility fees these sad people were still using, but still have to recover the debts for somewhere. thankfully the debts have stopped growing.


Poedoe said:
12 November 2014 @ 09:48

HI, It seems that although these people that do not pay their community fees need to be sorted out. Last comment from our community was that the Spanish Courts can only claim 3 years of unpaid community fees. Possible reason that many Spanish Owners & renters fail to keep up to date. So they are out of work, they do get unemployment funding but still fail to pay the community fees yet many have large cars to run and live very well.


steve said:
07 February 2013 @ 21:03

I reckon every community in Spain is in the same situation and after reading some of the comments I suppose we are not as bad as some. The really annoying thing is that some owners don't pay their community fees and then have the cheek to rent out their apartment and get income from it.
Then there are those who pretend they have handed the keys to the bank but are still able to come and go and have obviously still got keys and we cannot prevent them from using the community pool or any other common parts.
It is extremely annoying but there seems little we can do.



steve said:
07 February 2013 @ 21:03

I reckon every community in Spain is in the same situation and after reading some of the comments I suppose we are not as bad as some. The really annoying thing is that some owners don't pay their community fees and then have the cheek to rent out their apartment and get income from it.
Then there are those who pretend they have handed the keys to the bank but are still able to come and go and have obviously still got keys and we cannot prevent them from using the community pool or any other common parts.
It is extremely annoying but there seems little we can do.



Paul said:
27 November 2012 @ 08:04

my community recently held an EGM on bad debts. About one third of the apartments (that are not owned by banks) are not paying. Most owe several years fees. Collection is not going well. At the EGM the blame for delay was put on Spanish courts. We were told that claims from 2011 have still not been processed due to a massive backlog of debt cases.

I fear that eventually those owners who pay will need to fund the deficit and it will cost us about 10,000 Euros each. Else the community will go bust. What can be done? Negative equity combined with ineffiecient and ineffective Spanish debt collection means we are heading for a train crash.

Some owners will not be able to raise 10,000 Euros so more will got bust and the rest of us will need to raise even higher sums.

Help.



Paul said:
27 November 2012 @ 08:03

my community recently held an EGM on bad debts. About one third of the apartments (that are not owned by banks) are not paying. Most owe several years fees. Collection is not going well. At the EGM the blame for delay was put on Spanish courts. We were told that claims from 2011 have still not been processed due to a massive backlog of debt cases.

I fear that eventually those owners who pay will need to fund the deficit and it will cost us about 10,000 Euros each. Else the community will go bust. What can be done? Negative equity combined with ineffiecient and ineffective Spanish debt collection means we are heading for a train crash.

Some owners will not be able to raise 10,000 Euros so more will got bust and the rest of us will need to raise even higher sums.

Help.



JD LA said:
20 November 2012 @ 17:59

Whilst these are all valid comments, has anyone got any constructive ideas on how to extract money from individuals OR more important the bankrupt builder (now the bank) that has taken ownership!! How do you "push" the bank to pay up the outstanding fees on both residential AND defunct from the start retail elements?


Tracey McGowan said:
28 August 2012 @ 02:00

I completely agree that the Community is very important to pay. We bought an apartment in Spain in 2005 and we were informed that our community would be no more than €100 per month. When we got the keys we then discovered soon after that the fees were € 200 per month. We paid every quarter until last year when we had a bad leak from our terrace which was leaking to the apartment below. This meant we could not rent out the property for 7 months and it took so long to get it investigated and dealt with through the insurance Intasure. We got behind on community fees as had no rent and I had recently been made redundant after maternity leave here in the UK. The insurance would not pay for any loss of rent as they said it was not uninhabitable though we argued it was. So through unfortunate circumstances we have found ourselves in arrears with our community. The community has now put the monthly fees up to €311 per month which we are finding crippling as the rent does not cover the mortgage and community so we are paying as much as we possibly can to catch up. The community have now started legal action to recover the charges so we will just have to go along with whatever happens now. We feel that we were lied to about the real cost of community charges and may not have proceeded to buy this investment property which all in all started out a good decision but has unfortunately gone wrong through unforeseen circumstances as I’m sure has happened for many others too.





Tracey McGowan said:
28 August 2012 @ 02:00

I completely agree that the Community is very important to pay. We bought an apartment in Spain in 2005 and we were informed that our community would be no more than €100 per month. When we got the keys we then discovered soon after that the fees were € 200 per month. We paid every quarter until last year when we had a bad leak from our terrace which was leaking to the apartment below. This meant we could not rent out the property for 7 months and it took so long to get it investigated and dealt with through the insurance Intasure. We got behind on community fees as had no rent and I had recently been made redundant after maternity leave here in the UK. The insurance would not pay for any loss of rent as they said it was not uninhabitable though we argued it was. So through unfortunate circumstances we have found ourselves in arrears with our community. The community has now put the monthly fees up to €311 per month which we are finding crippling as the rent does not cover the mortgage and community so we are paying as much as we possibly can to catch up. The community have now started legal action to recover the charges so we will just have to go along with whatever happens now. We feel that we were lied to about the real cost of community charges and may not have proceeded to buy this investment property which all in all started out a good decision but has unfortunately gone wrong through unforeseen circumstances as I’m sure has happened for many others too.





Tracey McGowan said:
28 August 2012 @ 01:59

I completely agree that the Community is very important to pay. We bought an apartment in Spain in 2005 and we were informed that our community would be no more than €100 per month. When we got the keys we then discovered soon after that the fees were € 200 per month. We paid every quarter until last year when we had a bad leak from our terrace which was leaking to the apartment below. This meant we could not rent out the property for 7 months and it took so long to get it investigated and dealt with through the insurance Intasure. We got behind on community fees as had no rent and I had recently been made redundant after maternity leave here in the UK. The insurance would not pay for any loss of rent as they said it was not uninhabitable though we argued it was. So through unfortunate circumstances we have found ourselves in arrears with our community. The community has now put the monthly fees up to €311 per month which we are finding crippling as the rent does not cover the mortgage and community so we are paying as much as we possibly can to catch up. The community have now started legal action to recover the charges so we will just have to go along with whatever happens now. We feel that we were lied to about the real cost of community charges and may not have proceeded to buy this investment property which all in all started out a good decision but has unfortunately gone wrong through unforeseen circumstances as I’m sure has happened for many others too.


Tracey McGowan said:
28 August 2012 @ 01:58

I completely agree that the Community is very important to pay. We bought an apartment in Spain in 2005 and we were informed that our community would be no more than €100 per month. When we got the keys we then discovered soon after that the fees were € 200 per month. We paid every quarter until last year when we had a bad leak from our terrace which was leaking to the apartment below. This meant we could not rent out the property for 7 months and it took so long to get it investigated and dealt with through the insurance Intasure. We got behind on community fees as had no rent and I had recently been made redundant after maternity leave here in the UK. The insurance would not pay for any loss of rent as they said it was not uninhabitable though we argued it was. So through unfortunate circumstances we have found ourselves in arrears with our community. The community has now put the monthly fees up to €311 per month which we are finding crippling as the rent does not cover the mortgage and community so we are paying as much as we possibly can to catch up. The community have now started legal action to recover the charges so we will just have to go along with whatever happens now. We feel that we were lied to about the real cost of community charges and may not have proceeded to buy this investment property which all in all started out a good decision but has unfortunately gone wrong through unforeseen circumstances as I’m sure has happened for many others too.


UK Ops Director said:
21 May 2012 @ 22:18

There is fast and efficient and FAST AND EFFICIENT. www.europeancommunityfees.com charge NO FEES, action enquiries immediately and do not need Spanish Court action to be sanctioned before they ATTEND in the U.K. and speak face to face with the debtor. Face to Face most people pay up. Using the latest electronic collection devices the debt is back with the community in the blink of an eye. Give them a call at 00 44 (0)1246 293013 or email at info@europeancommunityfees.com. Did I mention there are NO FEES and NO COST to your community.


Pete said:
15 January 2012 @ 18:40

Having read the above my ranting I can see 100% against teh people who owe and "grap the property" faction and "get the money" but not a single word about the plight of the poor perdon involved who usually through no fault of theirs is in this situation, so haw about some help and advise for those who are without money, work and hope, or is it purly about screwing the poor buggers for the last drop of blood?


Pete said:
15 January 2012 @ 17:10

Although I fully understand that residents have to pay community charges it can be a difficult situation for both the owner and the community. The administrator has presented claims at a total cost to the community of 1.800€ but the problem is the residents are, through no fault of their own, unemployed (with very little chance of getting any work at all), with no income or ‘spare’ money after electricity, water, food, etc are paid. They are certainly going to loose their houses as the lenders repossess due to unpaid mortgages and like millions of people the property is in negative equity, so even when it gets to court, (in a couple of years) there will be nothing left for any other claimants on the estate including the town hall, community, credit cards and bank loans and with no income or savings the court will not be able to order seizure of income, assets or property as there will be none. As far as the residents are concerned Spain is still in the Middle Ages when it comes to social care, nothing in fact to stop an aging couple being forced to live on the streets, penniless and starving.
So why haven’t the residents paid? Well many tried to and were told by the administrators they had to pay the outstanding amount in full and continue to pay the quarterly fees too and would not accept a payment of say 100€ a month (against 375€ a quarter). Residents are not withholding payment, they just don’t have it!”

As for the mortgage lenders, as soon as the market collapsed and work and payments dried up the banks were on the phone twice a day, every day, using illegal threats and bullying tactics trying to extract as much cash as possible. Many frightened borrowers scrapped together what they could to satisfy the banks demands each month in the face of rising repayments and interest but soon all the savings had gone, including selling company or privet pension schemes, second car sold and the amounts acquired soon went the way of the savings and still the demands and threats kept coming, not only from the mortgage lenders but now the loan companies, credit cards companies and high street banks where people had borrowed to maintain payments and in many cases to simply survive as well as not to loose their homes, such were the level of threats used. People were being made ill and in some cases driven to suicide by the constant bullying tactics, including threats that they could be thrown out of the house in a month time, even if it was Christmas. No amount of talking would tempt the lenders into negotiations or to try and reach some sort of affordable arrangement, sums between 1.200€ and 1.600€ a month for the next five years to ‘catch up’ could not be considered “affordable” by any stretch of the imagination so things just snowballed out of control to the point where borrowers just ‘gave up’, many applying to the “Concusso de accreditores” a lengthy and complex system of legal aid and debt resolution which ‘freezes’ the accounts and allows the lenders to cease payments to the Bank of Spain where they had borrowed the money to lend for the mortgage, (lending money they didn’t have, root of the problem).
Now, some six years into the mess they want to talk to try and avoid the court case, of course they do as it is now costing them money without any sign of recovering it. They will receive little sympathy from any court who will just grant them ownership in a month or so time and they can action the house, (at a loss) and nothing more as there is nothing more to be had.
What could have been done? Well one thing used elsewhere, is for the lenders to take back the property and clear the debt but rent it back to the previous owners thereby retaining ownership until the market recovers and the previous owners continue to live in their ‘home’ for a reasonable rent, not interested in that one of course. Debt consolidation, roll ALL debt including cards, loads and interest payment into a new capital sum and extend it over a longer period and reduce monthly payments to one affordable sum, not interested in that one either. Agree to discount or even scrap the accumulated interest and reconfigure over a longer period, nope, not that one either, rather loose the lot. The concept of 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing, seems to have been lost to banks.

What is to done? Nothing, as there is nothing short of winning the lottery that can be done. One cannot "recover" a debt if there is nothing to recover it from, unless of course one wants to take a chunk of a pensioners meager monthly pension of 640€.
Politically Spain has always taken the “wait and see” stance, well that hasn’t worked this time. Spain has to drag itself into a 21st century social benefits system. Employment has to increase instead of unemployment increasing alarmingly. The banks have to be held responsible for their actions. The government have to take control of the financial state of the country instead of being held to ransom by self interested banks that are out of control and there has to be a government initiative to give real help those in serious debt and to stop the alarming number of repossessions taking place every month. The chances of that happening, well, up there with winning the lottery and world peace.



Eoin said:
01 December 2011 @ 18:28

We recover community fee arrears in the UK. I cringe when we are referred to as 'debt collectors', which we are not. We are High Court Officers, we are trained and authorised. We visit the owners and negotiate payment which is quickly recovered. We are legal, ethical and professional. Dont write off us or your debtors. Have a look at www.communityfees.co.uk


Pommers said:
01 November 2011 @ 11:39

It is not a myth about Spanish owners. In our large community the debtors are split about 50/50 between Spanish & ex-pats.
We also have an Entidad Fee that we have to pay. Now the Spanish pay THAT as otherwise the Town Hall, who have far more powers of recovery than a community, just take over and grab the property in double quick time.



Stephen said:
01 November 2011 @ 10:10

I note your comments j.c. though I must say we find contacting owners at their home address here in the UK more effective. Claire is right in that we cannot guarantee 100% of debts will be cleared; individual circumstances always come into play. Why don't you put us to the test and send a case, at least that way you can see if we do have success or not


Mario Bravo said:
31 October 2011 @ 18:12

There are few points to consider: spaniards can be taken to court and pay the community fees with any other asset they have (cars, bank accounts, wages, another properties), while british would forget about their house in Spain and go back home, once they realise they owe as a mortgage more than the present value of property. This group is the target of this company. If a british want to abandon a property in Spain, they can do that giving it to the bank, which usually will accept it for the mortgage. They may even pay the outstanding community fees and rates to the Town Hall. Now it is not only the communities, also the Town Halls are looking into this system..


Claire Twigg said:
31 October 2011 @ 17:55

We have had a lot of success through this company. Many owners who had previously refused to answer our letters and emails suddenly came out of the woodwork and offered to pay! It doesn´t work on every debtor but there is no cost to the community so every payment is a bonus!


j.c said:
31 October 2011 @ 17:16

Having passed this info onto our administrators, they have informed me that they have tried these debt collecting firms in the past with little or no success,primarily because the only people who can pressure payment are the Spanish courts by threats of a forced sale


Philip said:
31 October 2011 @ 13:12

Officially, all debts, including community fees, have to be cleared at the time of the sale. It is the responsibility of the solicitor to check that this has been completed and it should be in the deed that the property is purchased without any debts.This should also include electricity, water, rubbish, council tax, mortgage and any other charge levied on the property.


James said:
31 October 2011 @ 10:23

I was of the opinion that the debt needed to be cleared when the previous owner tried to sell their house? I take I am wrong. This is very worrying.



Lynn Rowe said:
31 October 2011 @ 00:10

Fortuantly, my community is quite ok at the moment, although I do have a few that are now going through the Spanish courts. I send out reminders to all who are a bit slow at paying up. Since taking over as the President. I have been very pro-active about most of the way our community is run. Getting better deals on electricity, maintanance, chasing owners and following up on mistakes our administrator makes from time to time. It is a lot of work, but I'd rather do it, than have a name taken out of the hat. I can only imagine what would happen then, some people would not be capable of doing the role. I only have 5 Spanish residents and only one of them has trouble in paying, due to illness and work problems. I offered them a payment system, which they kept to for a few months, but the lady then lost her job and now hasn't paid her installments for 5 months. However, I would say the monthly payment system for those in arrears has proved very successful. The most infuriating factor at the moment is the fact that you can now only recover this years fees and the previous year from any new owner, so make sure you go after the current owner before they sell. Otherwise if they disappear, your community could end up losing hundreds or thousands of Euro's.


Anne said:
30 October 2011 @ 16:42

It would be interesting to know what percentage of Spanish owe monies to communities as we were led to believe that the Spanish were notorious for not paying their community fees. Is this correct or is this an urban myth?


Stephen Kettlewell said:
30 October 2011 @ 12:52

I completely agree. I am the MD behind the above company. We are prepared to speak to people in any country that owe money. I must say though that you are w ring about just hounding English and Spanish owners. What percentage of debtors are Morrocan, ecuadorian or Romanian? Very small I would suggest. Your comments are noted though, with thanks


j.c said:
30 October 2011 @ 09:43

Thanks for the info. I will pass it onto our administrators. our community is owed 1000,s in unpaid community charges.


Here said:
29 October 2011 @ 22:36

What about those who live in Morocco or Ecuador? They often don't pay and owe far more than a few Brits who, usually, know what is the right thing to do, and pay their way. Will they chase Romanians as well? Why in cases such as these, or chasing mortgage debt, it's the Brits or the Spanish who get hammered and hounded.....? It's right to pay but ALL have to pay!!

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