Conveyancing – BUY SAFE basic guidelines.

BUYING A HOUSE IN SPAIN.

To buy or to sell a house is quite complicated for the average citizen,
especially for the foreigner.

The lack of information, the professional intrusion and other factors may
hinder the Conveyancing business, apparently simple, but with a
huge amount of complexity, specially when it relates to country side properties.

Consequently, we always recommend to seek the help of an independent Lawyer properly registered with the Law Society and experienced, not only in Conveyancing, also in Development Laws.

BUY SAFE!

Once you have identified the house you want to buy and prior to any deposit payment or contract signature, you (or your Conveyancing Lawyer) should check the following;

1. Legallity.
– The property has the First (or second) Ocupation  Licence.
– There are no fine or demolition files opened at the Town Hall
– The house is properly registered at the Catastro.
– The description at the Catastro matches to reality
– The house has definitive electricity and water contracts.

2. Charges.
– The house is registered at the Land Registry.
– The borders described at the Land Registry matches real ones
– The metric measurements for the plot and house at the different Registries match with real ones.
– There are no official notes written in the margin of the Land Registry House Certificate
– There are no encumbrances on the property; mortgages, taxes,etc
– There are no other rights charged to the property; dual ownership, etc.

3. Other issues.
– Local tax IBI and rubbish collection tax are paid.
– Last electricity and water bills are paid.
– If the house is in a compound; neighbours Association fees are paid.
– There are no tenants and the house is in good condition.
– The house is having the Energy Certificate.

Do not ever agree to make any payments in cash if requested to by the seller. What you pay is what should be shown in the deeds.
Please, remember that the price will be increased by approximately 13% to cover transaction tax, Notary and Registry.
If there is a mortgage on the house, the vendor should pay all the mortgage cancellation costs. The Mortgage cancellation deed should be signed always before the purchase-sale deeds.
In case the vendor is a non-resident in Spain then you should hold a 3% of the price in order to pay it to the tax authorities.
Remember that Banks will need at least three (3) working days to prepare the banker drafts or money transfers.
If you are not Spanish then you will need to apply for your Foreigner Identification card (NIE) and to open a Bank account in Spain before you start with the purchase process.

As you can see, process is not as simple as it can be in other countries. Notaries Association recommends to DO NOT pay any deposit and to DO NOT sign any document without proper and independent legal Advice – Our Lawyers can help you.- Contact us.

Connie Raymundo – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

Conveyancing – Selling a house; basic guidelines.

SELLING A HOUSE IN SPAIN

Even when someone may tell you that selling property is easier than buying,
we have to inform you that sadly this is a mistake; any failure providing
information to the purchaser or any mistake in the sale business may
end in a Law suit against you to get the contract declared null and void.

Therefore and in the same way we did for the purchase, we recommend you to use a Lawyer(Conveyancing expert when selling a Town House and Land Laws expert Lawyer when selling  a country home) who should be expert in this field, especially if your property is in rustic (agricultural) land. Our Independent Lawyers, experts in both, Conveyancing and Land Laws, will be pleased to help.

Before you even advertise your house for sale, please you have to chek that the Land Registry and Catastro information match with reallity, that way you will avoid further delays and costs.

As a vendor, your obligation is to provide to the purchaser the following documentation;

– Purchase deeds and Land Registry Certificate.
– Your personal identification.
– IBI local tax and rubbish collection bills for the current year.
– Last water, gas and electricity bills (and supplies installation bulletins, if having it).
– If your house is in a compund then, a certificarte from the Administrator proving that you are up to
date with all payments to the neighbours Association
– First (or second) occupancy licence.
– The House Energy Certificate.
– A certificate from the tax authorities informing if you are or you are not a Spanish tax resident.

In the private sale contract you will have to include any legal circumstance(s) that may be affecting the property. This is the key document for the vendor please, ensure it matches with reallity.

For better protection of your interests, we strongly recommend you that purchaser is visiting the house prior to the contracts signature. This visit should be mentioned in the contracts.

In reference to the expenses, you will have to pay the Mortgage cancellation costs at the Bank and at the Notary as well, and, you will have to pay for the local tax applied to the property updated value called (Plusvalia).

Once the house is sold and for the above mentioned Plusvalia payment, you should bring to your SUMA office or to your Town Hall a simple copy of the sale deeds in order to ask for the payment valuation.

In case the local tax (IBI) for the current year was not issued at the time of the sale then the purchaser will hold the money for it as its payment is your obligation.

If you are not a Tax resident in Spain then, the purchaser will also hold a 3% of the sale price in order to pay it to the tax authorities.

And please remember; seller and purchaser should not use the same legal adviser or conveyancing expert.

Connie Raymundo – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

EXTRA TAX, “complementary settlement check values.”

I want to buy a flat, business premises or garage, and the price is below the value, which the Region Tax Authorities in which it is located give to it. How do I have to notarize it? For the money I actually paid or for the amount the Region authorities say? If notarized or declared for what I am really paying, may the Hacienda (tax authorities) then claim from me to pay more for the property transfer tax?
These and similar questions are to be considered more and more often by those people who want to buy a property today, as is increasingly common, too, that the ministries of finance of the different regions insist the buyer to pay an extra tax to what they have already paid during the purchase settlement, which is called “complementary settlement check values.”
This is because, even though the deed is recorded for the actual price paid for purchase of the housing, the value by the administration of the property is far superior, due to not having revised nor updated downward fluctuations in real estate prices and real market values. That is, there is a clear mismatch between the variable economic reality and static property assessment made by the administration in the best years of real estate boom.
So what happens when the administration says the value is higher than what was actually paid as the price? Two things can be done at this time:
a) Assume the additional assessment declared and pay the amount requested counseling Hacienda of the relevant Region, with interest on late payments.
b) Proceed to appeal the settlement by the statements above, by challenging the administration on values that are not adapted to reality, and this is one reason more weight, among many others, to be argued.
Since the late 80s, early 90s the jurisprudence of both the Supreme Court and the courts of administrative litigation supports the requests of taxpayers in this regard.
Remember that for this you must use all the evidence you have in your favor: the condition of the house, construction works in the house, purchase contract, etc.
If this has happened to you and you do not agree with the assessment made by the Administration, contact us, we can help you.

Email: info@rhv-lawfirm.com or oana@rhv-lawfirm.com.

Oana Dragoi – Lawyer at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

Timo de la Estampita strikes again.

A man residing in Orihuela has been misled by some bogus buyers in Tolouse (France) when he was about to sell a property.
The victim and his partner travelled to France with 250.000 euros in large denominations to be handed to some, Italian accent sounding buyers. The sale deal did include handing over 250.000 euros in small notes to the sellers by the bogus buyers, which would return the amount plus 25.000 euros more (all in 500 euros notes), as commission, to complete this money laundering”.
The victim did confirm this version to the Policia Nacional and related all the details about the meeting in a Tolouse Hotel, including a wine pack received from the bogus buyers as a gift . He also informed, he, in fact, did have the 275.000 euros in his hands but the buyers finally changed the 500 euro large notes for fake ones to wave goodbye immediately and disappeared.
This timo de la estampita” is a fraud well known in Spain. It is an offence, punished by our Código Penal in articles 248 -251. These articles have been recently revised with the new Código Penal amendment and for this particular case, with a 250.000 euro fraud, the penalty would be considered as an aggravated offence which means a higher penalty : 4 up to 8 years prison penalty.
This distinction is going beyond former considerations in the Código Penal, when the standard penalty was 1-6 years imprisonment for a very wide range of money sum frauds (from 50.000 euros up to millions of euros, the penalty was the same).

Ignacio Ganga – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

720Foreign Assets Declaration form.

The Tax form 720 is an informative tax model and its main purpose is to avoid the money laundering.
By the means of this form that has to be brought from the 1st of January to the 31st of March, residents in Spain must inform about their accounts, estate and investments abroad when valued over 50.000 euro.
Once lodged for the first time, the person subject to this form presentation will only have to bring it again if the value of any of the above mentioned three groups (accounts, estate or investments) have an increase of 20.000 euro or more.
The above seems right, however, what makes this model so controversial is the lack of proportion between its purpose and the fines, huge fines that can be imposed when someone forgets to lodge it or it is not lodged in time.
Fines; If you do not lodge the 720 tax model, the tax authorities will fine you with 5000 euro per block or missing data (remember there are three blocks) with a minimum fine of 10.000 euro. Furthermore, the value of your investments and assets abroad, if not informed by the means of the 720 tax model, will be considered as an unjustified benefit and will be punished with a fine of 150% of the amount that you are supposed to pay for this unjustified benefit in your yearly tax return.
If you lodge the 720 tax model beyond the expiry date (after 31st of March) then, you will be punished with a fine of a 100 euro per missing data or detail, by
example, if you have your money invested in 10 different products then they will be punishing you with 1000 euro, with a minimum fine of 1.500 euro.
The EUROPEAN COMISION has opened a proceeding against Spain for the lack of proportion of these fines- the process is in its very early stage so, at least this year, the obligation to inform by the means of the 720 tax model remains.
Our tax department will be pleased to study your case for free and to help you further if necessary.

Connie Raymundo – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

How The New Valencia Land Law (Lotup) Regulations Affect Real Estate Owners.

(Summarised article, original was published in the Costa Blanca News Autumn 2015 Supplement).

The new Valencia Land Law (LOTUP) regulations came in force on 20th August 2014, and amalgamated all the old laws relating to land development resulting in thousands of regulation articles being condensed into less than 300. LOTUP is now ordered in three different books; Planning, Development Management and Development Discipline, and these directly affect all land and property owners.
In the Planning book, LOTUP merges the Environment and Development procedures but gives higher importance to the environmental elements which are now top priority, and all development plans need to include landscape integration reports. Planning, included in the first book, may affect the legality and / or configuration of certain properties so it is essential to visit the local Town Hall from time to time to see if any new development plans are being proposed.
The second book, Development Management, includes important regulations for owners of property on agricultural land. Where a property has been built illegally on such land before the law came into force, it offers the possibility of legalising the situation by means of a special initiative called Environment Impact Reduction.
The third book, Development Discipline, is the most controversial and includes the measures that can be taken against illegal building. With the previous Land Law, authorities were able to instigate legal proceedings (i.e. to demand legalisation or if not possible, to order demolition) only within a period of four years after completion of the building work. Now, the LOTUP expands the previous four year term to 15 years. The authorities now have a period of fifteen years during which they can take action against illegal building works, and eventually if legalisation is not possible, to order their demolition.
However, the four year limit still applies to penalty fine proceedings; in other words, whilst new illegal buildings can potentially be demolished for 15 years, penalty fines can only be levied for 4 years.
This third book also includes the regulations covering building licences – one change is that minor building work such as cable installations or maintenance works will no longer need this licence so long as they do not involve enlargement of the property. The licence will be substituted by a responsibility statement at the local Town Hall and an inspection by the authorities.
In any case, before buying real estate or doing any building works, potential purchasers or home owners must visit the local Town Hall in order to ensure that the LOTUP regulations are scrupulously observed. Due to their complexity it would be very easy for a lay person to misinterpret them, so it essential that anyone contemplating business involving property seek guidance from a legal advisor experienced in Land Law – the penalties for non-compliance are strict and severe.
We, as land laws experts, can help you, in case of any doubt or if you are buying or selling a house please, do not hesitate to contact us (info@rhv-lawfirm.com).

Connie Raymundo – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

EXPATS WILLS, new regulations.

European Union New Regulations about Inheritance, in force since August 2015, are meant to “organize” the Inheritance regulations in all EU countries in order to avoid the previous confusions when a foreigner, resident in one of our countries but born in another, as a UK citizen resident in Spain can be, dies with no Will, or without a proper Will in the country of residence.
In accordance to the new Law, Inheritance of your country of residence assets (in this case, your Spanish assets) can be ruled with your motherland Inheritance rules, however, it can be also ruled with the country of residence regulation; you have to decide and declare it when making your Will.
But this decision has to be clear and with no room for any ambiguity because in case of any ambiguity regarding the wording of the Will then and from the EU new regulations, the Country of Residence Law will apply.
And surely, you will not want the Spanish Inheritance rules of compulsory heirs to apply if you are an UK national living in Spain
In Spain, almost all the marriages share the ownership of the estate they have in common. Private estate, i.e., estate that has been inherited or owned before the marriage, stays in the private ownership of the spouse that has received it/owned it, but, everything bought or got during the marriage will be shared, half and half, by each spouse.
If someone dies with no Will in Spain (or if the Will is not properly done and Spanish Law applies) then, ownership of all his estate (100% of his private estate and 50% of the marriage estate) will be transferred to his children, and if no children will go to his parents, or sisters and brothers….The other spouse will only get the life use of the other spouse estate but will not get the ownership at all.
But following the UK example, the rule that applies is the Free Will or Free Disposition of estate. The UK Law allows a wife to leave her Spanish estate to her husband, Spanish Law as you can see does not.
Therefore, if you want your motherland to rule your inheritance in Spain please, get sure that your Spanish Will has been properly done.
In case you have any doubts about the text of your Wills please, send it to us and we will inform you whether it needs to be remade or not free of costs and with no further obligation.

Send your Wills to: info@rhv-lawfirm.com or iganga@rhv-lawfirm.com.

Ignacio Ganga – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitor > Raymundo & Hopman.

February 2016.