Comunidad de propietarios is the community of property owners. Properties located in a development, known as “urbanisations" in Spain, usually share communal facilities such as gardens and services such as those of a maintenance person. All new urbanisations are the responsibility of the promoter - builder until they are all completed and sold.
The responsibility is then transferred to the comunidad de propietarios, which you automatically join when you buy your property in Spain. Legal status is given by Spanish law to this community so that it can regulate the joint ownership of common property e. g. gardens, pools etc On completion of your property, you are notified and invited to attend a meeting to formally transfer the responsibility of general upkeep of the collective properties to a newly formed community of owners. Someone must be elected as President and another as Vice President from the group of owners. At this time an administrator is also elected.
However, it is common practice to use the administrator put in place by the developer for the first year. The administrator and the committee members handle the day to-day business of the community. They only call meetings when matters arise. The committee is annually elected. Annual meetings are held, during which a budget is approved by the Owners covering the expenses for the year. This budget is then divided between owners depending on the percentage contribution for each property as set out in the title deeds.
The apartment owners tend to pay a higher community fee than the house owners. For example: In an urbanisation owners of a two bedroom first floor apartment pay 180 euros per quarter, whereas the owners of a three-bed roomed town house pay just 55 euros per quarter. The reasoning behind this is that the areas around apartments incur more expenses e. g. stairwell cleaning and lighting, lift maintenance, garage cleaning and maintenance etc. There are numerous factors to be considered when dividing up the cost of community fees:
The number of apartments that share a block. The more there are to share the cost the lower the rate. The higher you go the more you pay and you may also be charged more for enjoying a view! The total number of properties in an urbanisation. The size of a development (total area). There have been reports in the media highlighting unfair cases. When a development consists of many phases, owners of completed phases were expected to temporarily subsidise the community fees of the uncompleted phases. When investigated the reasons given were that the green areas, the pools etc which are intended for the entire use of the development still need to be maintained. Basura – Rubbish Collecting The Town Hall will also make a charge for the Rubbish collection (Basura) from your property or development.
This can be charged annually or quarterly depending on the Municipality in which you are purchasing the property. This may be included in your community fees it is worthwhile you asking about this. Tratamiento de Residuos - Recycling Tax In certain municipalities, there is an annual charge for the Recycling Tax. This covers the recycling of waste from the numerous glass, paper, and battery banks that are distributed throughout the area. This may be included within the Community fee it is worth finding out. Electricity & Water Most properties have electricity and water meters and you will be charged according to the amount of each consumed. Some communities will only have one meter for the whole development and therefore include the water in the Community Fees. Title Deeds (escritura) The percentage of the budget that each property pays is determined by the developer and is set out in the (escritura) The Community fees are normally paid quarterly or twice a year. Expenses vary according to services required and include salaries and social security for those employed by the community (gardeners, pool attendants, hall porters etc), repairs, electricity for the lighting of common areas, administration fees.
Payment of Fees. The payment date is set by the members at the Annual General Meeting and every owner must pay their community fees on the agreed date. If any of the members fail to pay the community fees, the President or the Administrator may claim the debt in the Court of First Instance from the city, and even have the property sold at auction to recover unpaid charges. Always ask questions. This information will enable you to get the most out of your property. Ensure that you ask about the community fees and find out exactly what is included. Or are there any hidden extras? So before you purchase your off-plan property, enquire about the expected community fees and use this article as a tick list.
Steve Magill is the right source for more information on the Spanish mortgage market. He is a partner in buyspain.co.uk and a Fellow in the British Association of Entrepreneurs (FBAE). He holds international renown for having hands-on experience in this field.