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Property Legal Issues

Spain - Property Legal Issues

There are few restrictions on foreign property owners purchasing a home in Spain, although those outside the EU may need to have residency status before they are able to own a home there. Legal advice is essential for foreign buyers, not least because of the red tape and paperwork involved. While in the UK there would be one legal advisor, in Spain there are several and they all do a different type of job.

The ‘Gestor’ deals with bureaucracy. They are not qualified solicitors but they are licensed and deal with any paperwork that is connected to officialdom. They can deal with forms to be completed and while there is a fee involved, it can save a great deal of time. An ‘abogado’ is a solicitor and these are highly qualified. In areas where there are many expats you will be able to find a solicitor who can advise you on the implications of property purchase as regards tax in both the UK and Spain and they will deal with the contract of sale for the property. A notary is a solicitor who has taken further qualifications. The notary will represent the authorities rather than the purchaser and they act on behalf of the authorities to ensure that the process is carried out correctly. It is not essential to hire a solicitor to deal with your home purchase but it is advised as they can deal with issues as they arise.

The solicitor that you hire will need to check a number of things before the purchase can be completed. These include the ‘Escritura’. This is simply that the details of the property which are held at the land registry are correct. He also has the role of checking that there are no outstanding debts on the property before you purchase it. The purchaser is responsible for any debts and if this check is not carried out and there are debts in existence then it could cause a number of problems for the new home owner. The purchaser can then insist that the existing owner clears all debts before the process is completed.

The new owner can also check that the property meets the conditions which are set out by the local authorities. The Occupancy certificate which is issued is needed for the utility companies as it states that the property meets the required standard for someone to live there.

In order to purchase property in Spain you must have the NIE number. This is a tax identification number which is assigned to expats and it is essential in all aspects of life. Those who are planning on living in the country on a long term basis need to apply for this number as soon as possible. This number stays with you for life and it is needed for many other things, such as opening a bank account.

Once you are the legal owner of a house there are no restrictions on how long you need to own it before you can sell it again. There are no real advantages to purchasing a property through a company and this could simply cause more complications with regards to tax and other legal issues. It is far simpler to purchase as an individual or a couple.

When you are buying land it is the responsibility of the solicitor that you have hired to confirm that the boundaries of the land are as stated on the land registry information. This is done prior to the purchase being completed and in this way, issues can be resolved before you take ownership. Planning permission can be an issue. If you are intending to build your own property then you need to have an idea if planning permission can be granted and there are different types of land classification. Your solicitor will be able to find out which category your land falls into, so you will know early on in the process if you are able to build on your land.

There are no restrictions on purchasing a property currently in ruins and it should be fairly easy to get permission to rebuild. A property may have a preservation order on it if it has some historical significance but this is not the case in many areas and most expats will not come across this.

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