The legal system in Spain has considerable differences from the British system, it is therefore imperative that independent professional advice is sought before handing over money or signing contracts
The Spanish Legal process - Introduction
It is fair to say that the system is slow and inefficient and frequently in the headlines with stories of abuse and scandal. Judges, Mayors, town councillors and lawyers are often accused of taking advantage of their positions and using the system to suit their own personal desires. It is also fair to say that litigation in Spain can be expensive, frustrating and therefore if possible best avoided. It’s been reported that as many as 160 legal actions are brought each week to the Spanish Courts that specifically involve property purchase issues, most of which it has to be said will take years to resolve. Throughout Spain the courts have backlogs of many thousands of pending cases many of which will take several years before they are heard. The system is literally jammed to capacity.
Spanish Property Purchase Procedures
When the client is satisfied they have found the right property; the first task is to check to ensure that everything is in order before proceeding with the purchase.
The Private Contract
Before spending time investigating the legal status of the property, we arrange for the vendor to take the property off the market for an agreed period. The private contract must protect the client in case in the meantime we discover any problem with the property. Our contract will ensure that the holding deposit is refunded in full if things turn out to be as they first appeared. Estate Agents must accept Search and Survey’s private contract terms and conditions, rather than our clients having to accept Agents terms which are usually more favourable to the vendor than the buyer.
Spanish Legal Searches
Spanish law holds the existing legal owner of a property liable for all encumbrances on the property no matter who was responsible. This means that if there is an outstanding mortgage, tax office embargo, or court charge against the property this liability will automatically transfer to the purchaser after completion. Our thorough legal searches will ensure the property is free of all charges.
Rectification of the Escritura
Any changes that have been made to a property not recorded in the vendor’s escritura (deed), need to be amended before any transaction is completed. We check that the existing escritura is accurate, and if not we can certify the changes that describe the property in better detail. Any building extensions, addition of swimming pools, changes in boundaries or other changes in the property description need to be rectified in the vendor’s escritura so that it is valid before the purchase. Otherwise, these changes may prove to be a liability in the future. Our architectural department will survey and certify these changes working with the Notary to make this process as straight forward as possible.
Preparation of Documentation for the Notary
Once all these checks have been completed, the documentation for the new escritura is provided to the Notary. Any further points in question, regarding the transaction are then discussed with the Notary before the completion date so that everything is in order. Unlike the system in the UK where there is one deed document that remains with the property for ever, in Spain a new deed is created each time the property is sold/bought. The Notary is a public official who oversees the purchase process to ensure the transactions are completed according to Spanish Law.
A Personalised Service
Buying a property is a big responsibility, and at times complications occur that need careful thought. Search and Survey is an accredited API, and our team has over 30 years experience dealing in the Spanish property market. We have direct contact with most of the authorities and town halls that can help solve many outstanding issues. Our clients look to us for advice on a range of issues, from the initial negotiations to beyond the completion of the property purchase. Search and Survey is unique in that it provides a comprehensive range of services that look after the buyers interests prior to, during and after the property is purchased.
To read more about The Spanish Legal System, visit: Info Library and download our Ebooks.
The Search and Survey certified Legal Report is a comprehensive lawful document containing copies of all the relevant papers relating to the property. In the report we highlight any irregularities and offer advice (In English) on how any such irregularities might be resolved.