Property in Spain & The Comunidad de Propietarios
Posted by algrif
Information about the Comunidad de Propietarios or committee of neighbours in the urbanisation or apartment block where your Spanish property is located. It tells you how they are elected to the property's committee, how you can be elected, what they can/cannot do and are supposed to do, and the function of the Administrator of your Neighbourhood Committee.
Whether you are planning to buy a Spanish property in an urbanisation, or rent or buy an apartment, you are going to have to deal with what is commonly known as La Comunidad de Vecinos. This is the committee made up of your immediate neighbours who, like it or not, have the right to meddle in your affairs in a way that is sometimes not exactly to your taste. Remember that with real estate in Spain you generally have less rights and more obligations compared to some other countries!
Skip down to the pertinent section of Property in Spain & The Neighborhood Community by clicking on the following…
- What is this Community?
- What does the Comunidad de Propietarios do?
- Who makes up the committee, or Junta?
- Electing The Community President
- Who is the Administrator?
- Meetings, Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
- Voting at the AGM and other general meetings
- What are the costs and quotas?
- How can I become a member of the committee?
What is this Community?
The Comunidad de Propietarios is a legally constituted committee. Any property in Spain which is covered by the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal [translated]is obliged by Spanish law to have a Neighbour’s Committee. This idea usually starts the alarm bells ringing for many expats, so here I intend to clarify some legal and practical aspects and - hopefully - put you at ease with the idea. This same Law, the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal, very closely controls how the committee is to carry out its duties.
The first thing to note is that if you have property in Spain that is completely self-contained, then this article is not for you. But if your property forms part of a communal Spanish real estate ‘whole’ that is divided between various owners, such as a block of apartments, or an urbanisation with external limits and some common areas such as a swimming pool or a common garage etc. like most Spanish properties, then you had better read on.
The second thing to note is that, if you are buying a second-hand property in Spain, it is very important to find out how the Comunidad de Propietarios (Neighbourhood Committee) is set up. But if you are buying newly-built Spanish real estate, then it might be in your interests to be on the initial committee to have a real say in how you want things to be organised from the beginning.
What does the Comunidad de Propietarios do?
One of the most important functions of the Comunidad de Vecinos—as it is more commonly called—is to fix the budget of community costs (see below) for the coming year for the common property, and from there organise the monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly quotas for which each household will have to pay maintenance of the property and services.
Another function is to set the rules of the community and enforce them. This is where many people feel they are being dictated to. But the idea is to avoid friction between neighbours before it starts by setting some agreed guidelines and limits. The scope of action here is very wide, and will be covered in the second part: “The Nitty-Gritty of the Comunidad de Propietarios”. [link to article and replace ‘next article’ with title of article when finished].
But to give you an idea, here are a few aspects of the property requiring coordination: swimming pool rules, lifts, parking, cleaning, external appearance of the property. (They like properties in Spain to ‘co-ordinate’ as much as possible. Very appearance-conscious people, the Spanish) Structural work, noise, pets, security… the list goes on. This list will be amplified in “The Nitty-Gritty of the Comunidad de Propietarios”.
Who makes up the committee, or Junta?
The committee is composed of a Community President, Vice president, Secretary and (normally) 4 ordinary members known as Vocales. All of these are elected by the property owners from among the property owners themselves. No outsiders, you’ll be glad to hear. All the property owners have the right to a vote no matter whether they are Spanish or not. One household: one vote, by the way. We’ll look at General meetings, where this vote is taken, further on
This committee is completed by the Administrator. He is also elected, and we will look very closely at this function in a moment.
Elections normally occur once per year. But there is a curiosity regarding the presidential position of the committee of property owners.
Electing The Community President
Elected at the AGM, either by vote as per the rest of the committee; or s/he can also be determined by literal ‘luck-of-the-draw’ (the Spanish love their lotteries), or by rotation. This means that you could be obliged to be the Community president for a year whether you want it or not! And it is not easy to get out of this either. For more information see “The Nitty-Gritty of the Comunidad de Propietarios” under FAQs (coming soon).
Spanish property owners do not normally rush for this post, if they know anything about it. This is because it can be a time consuming and unappreciated, thankless job. This person is also, at the end of the day, the legal representative of the community of property owners. He will also normally be the official key holder. See below under Who is the Administrator? for more information about the keys.The Committee:-What are the committee’s obligations and rights? Basically, they are there to ensure the smooth running of the communityof property owners by:
- Implementing decisions taken at meetings.
- Agreeing budgetary expenditures. The annual budget.
- Ensuring that the Administrator is doing his duty.
- Making decisions on day to day issues that come to their attention.
- Organising extraordinary general meetings when needed.
- Informing other property owners of important decisions or changes that have to be made.
- If necessary, using legal channels to enforce commonly agreed rules.
This means they have to organise committee meetings on a regular basis, and make decisions that can sometimes be difficult.They are governed by two sets of rules. The obligatory statute Estatuto de Comunidad which is fixed by Spanish law, and the Internal Agreement, which basically means the general consensus decisions of the community as written in the Régimen Interno’.
Who is the Administrator, and what are his duties and obligations?
This person is a professional who should belong to the College of Administrators. The Spanish name is, as always, very long. His proper title is Administrador de la Comunidad de Propietarios, He is a qualified Administrador de Fincas, and he should be a registered member of the Colegio de Administradores de Fincas Rústicas y Urbanas. He will therefore be able to give you his colegiado number.This means he is trained and qualified to administrate property in Spain, or Spanish real estate of any kind. But his main source of income is usually from acting as the official Administrator for a number of neighbourhood committees. You will gather that his is a paid position. He will normally have his own office and secretary, etc. He is elected on a yearly basis at the same time as the committee of the Comunidad de Propietarios. His role is to help the committee realise its functions correctly and legally. He does this by:
- Attending all the meetings (as far as possible) and advising on legal aspects of decisions.
- Managing the bank accounts. Balancing the community accounts; receipts and outgoings. Issuing the end of year financial statement.
- Other financial functions such as getting quotes from suppliers. Issuing invoices. Charging the quotas from the property owners. Chasing bad debts. etc.
- Other administrative duties such as making sure information, such as the Régimen Interno is available for all households.
- Making sure general and extraordinary meetings are notified correctly and legally to all householders, including those who are not resident, because their Spanish property is just for summer use or rent.
- He is often a key holder for all general doors and gates and for access to such areas as electric, gas, water, telephone meters,community water supply areas, television cable distribution points. etc.
- He will oversee any work being carried out for the community property.
- He is also a useful focal point when a property owner needs some help or advice, particularly if the president is not available.