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.

Title Deeds in Order.

Last month, I was advising you to update your SUMA, as mentioned, the authorities are investigating 181 cities in the Valencia Region in order to punish with fines to those owners that are not having their SUMA records updated.
As important as to update SUMA is to update your TITLE DEEDS because a copy should be lodged with the SUMA application. This will save lots of time and money to you in the future.
Please, check your deeds and if you have any new item (barbecue, sheds, garage, pool, etc) not included in your deeds then contact us and we will inform you about the Deeds Update process and if convenient, we will be pleased to help you.

Email: info@rhv-lawfirm.com, or, maria@rhv-lawfirm.com.

Maria Navarro – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

February 2016.

Time limits to bring personal actions to Court have been shortened, be careful.

The new regulation of the Spanish civil Act and the new law 42/2015, in particular the amendment of our section number 1964, have considerably shortened the time limits for civil lawsuits, something to consider, especially if you need to bring actions in court for anything you may believe is owed to you or for any other different matter.
The deadline until recently, and if no different law was providing otherwise, was fifteen years to claim in a civil court, but since January 1, 2016, this period has been reduced to only five years, so, if someone owes you money from 2008 then, with the previous act, you were having until 2023 to sue him, now, you would be able to sue them only until the 1st of January 2021.
This new time limit also applies to any other previous ongoing action, by example, if someone is having a pending decision from January 2009 that in theory should last until 2024 (as a demolition order) will now be enforceable only until January 2021 when thereafter it will definitively have expired.
Therefore, any legal issue happening after that date (January 1, 2016 ), have a five year time limit for Court action, and those possible actions before January 16th will no longer be enforceable from1st January 2021.
So please, be careful with these new Court action deadlines, because although they are right, if you take so long preparing your case then time may run out and you can loose your opportunity to sue. Anyway, if you have any doubt as to any particular time limit, do not hesitate to contact us (info@rhv-lawfirm.com), and we will be delighted to help you in order to avoid unpleasant surprises to you.

Roberto Fernández – Civil & Tax Lawyer at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman. 

Catastro (SUMA) Revisions. Update your SUMA!

Four Vega Baja Towns (Jacarilla, San Miguel de Salinas, Torrevieja and
Redován), have been recently revised for the Catastro update. Over 2000
infractions were found and denounced in the mentioned Towns due to lack of IBI
payment. This revision not only affects houses, it also involves any other
buildings such as pools, barbecues, etc. Aerial photographs are the tools used to
compare old and brand new constructions.
It is therefore strongly advisable to (get) ensure that your house fits with Catastro
and Land Registry descriptions in order to avoid fines and expensive and time
consuming problems in the near future. Our Law Firm has a large experience in
this field due to our work with the Catral, Orihuela and other Towns legalisation
cases and we would be more than happy to resolve any question you may have
in this regard.

Maria Navarro – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.

Banks found responsible for the purchasers off-plan money loss.

Recently, the Courts of Alicante have produced a sentence forcing a Bank to give back the
deposits that clients made to promoters to buy houses off-plan and that sadly, were never
built. This is a topic of great interest for the British community as in many cases the buyers were citizens of the islands and were left defenceless when losing their savings.
It seems now to be some light at the end of the tunnel since the local courts are
beginning to follow the line that the Supreme Court initiated, punishing banks
where the money was deposited to return these payments that buyers gave to
promoters as they should have been safeguarding it, as provided in the old Law
passed on 1968.
This is an important step forward as until now, although many Petitions were
brought to Court and won against promoters or builders who were leaving
purchasers with no house and no money and as usual putting the blame on the
estate market crisis, while they claim to be penniless.
Although it would be necessary to study each case in particular, this can be a
very interesting and justice restoring route for those that were left defenceless
and abandoned, also, a realistic opportunity to get their money back.

Roberto Sanchez, Civil and Tax Lawyer at Raymundo & Hopman Abogados.

Murder or Homicide?

A Man was recently stabbed to death in
Villamartin, Orihuela Costa. A British man,
believed to be in his 20´s, was reportedly
stabbed to death with a broken bottle at a sports
bar in Villamartin, Orihuela Costa.
The incident occurred in the early hours of last Saturday, when a man was
attacked and stabbed in the neck, throat, face and thorax. Three British citizens
have been arrested in connection with the crime; two men aged 26 and 43, and a
woman aged 39.
The arrested, if enough evidence of their participation in the tragic incident is
found, will be now prosecuted and depending on the development of the case
(facts, evidence, particular circumstances of the case, etc) the alleged criminals
could be charged with Homicide or Murder.
Homicide is a crime subject to 10-15 years imprisonment. However, Murder, as
an aggravated crime, has a related penalty of 15 to 20 years imprisonment.
What turns a Homicide into Murder are the aggravating circumstances; 1. To use
means, tools or any other way to ensure the result (death), 2. To kill for a price or
reward, and 3. Murder with malice or cruelty. If two of the three aggravating
circumstances before mentioned are considered then, the alleged criminal could
be punished with 20 to 25 years imprisonment.

Ignacio Ganga, Lawyer and Barrister at Raymundo & Hopman Abogados.

January 2016