In-depth information about the Comunidad de Vecinos refering to the legal powers and responsibilities of both the committee and the Administrator. The Budget. Complaints and problems with the neighbours. It is based on the Spanish law known as Ley de Propiedad Horizontal.
A property owner might find that the committee insists on the removal of a new addition simply because the colour or design does not comply....
This article is a continuation and amplification of the information in the first part titled Property in Spain & The Comunidad de Propietarios. Read that first if you haven’t already!
Skip down to the pertinent section for more information about the Community Committee of property owners.
Naturally, a lot depends on the situation, size, and type of the common real estate property. A small block of apartments will have very different costs than a large urbanisation of individual bungalows with private pool and garage, for example.
That point aside, we can still state some typical costs, and divide them into, two basic groups. First, the “shrug-shoulders-grin-and-bear-it” group. Second, the “optional-we-need-to-discuss-this” group. There are some items that will fall into one or other group depending on the size of the community. Cleaning, for instance, in a community of 10 apartments is often done by rota, or sharing the tasks. But for 50 households, whether apartments or urbanisation, it would be contracted out in some way.
1) Unavoidable costs of the community are: (also see costs of living)
2) Costs to be discussed are things like:
There is a similar pair of lists for those who have internal communal garage space and/or junk room trastero.
Firstly, all the decisions taken at the last AGM or Extraordinary GM need to be put in motion and followed. This is done by holding various meetings with the Administrator who will normally help in the organisational aspects. The Committee members will help in any way they can, using their time, contacts and knowledge.
Most decisions will involve some sort of service or purchase. This means that, by law, at least two quotes must be obtained. The committee will then meet up to discuss the merits of all tenders received, looking at both the financial and the service aspects. The majority decision rules, and a service is then contracted. All the residents are then informed of the decision and the financial and practical impact. In all the steps, the Administrator will ask the president, or his/her representative for permission to act. The reason is that it is in reality the president, as legal representative of the community who should be doing all this stuff, but of course it is more realistic for the Administrator to do it on his/her behalf. He therefore needs the committee to be aware of this transfer of authority on each point.
Secondly, there is the question of enforcement of decisions. The non-payment of quotas is entirely in the hands of the Administrator, by law, but for everything else, it is the president who must act.
What is this enforcement of decisions? Some examples:
Enforcement usually follows this process - polite requests, formal requests, threatening legal action, and finally legal action. This last recourse of legal action would be where the Administrator takes over full responsibility.
Finally, there are the emergency items. This usually means urgent repairs and maintenance, or security. If there is something broken or damaged, then it will have to be repaired, which means getting estimates and contracts as quickly as possible. The same goes if there is a security problem that cannot wait till the next AGM.
It's not much fun being berated by upset neighbours while you are trying to doze off next to the swimming pool ...
Firstly, it is not a legal necessity to have a separate Administrator. The president can also hold this function. This can reduce overall costs, but the president must be prepared for a lot more work. If your community of property owners prefers to employ an Administrator, then his proper title is Administrador de la Comunidad de Propietarios, He will be 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. He will normally have a proper office with a secretary. He will look after all the legal aspects of running the community to make sure everything complies with the Law concerning Spanish properties, how they are divided, managed, and run. Commonly owned real estate in Spain is very closely governed by law, and his job is therefore pretty important. He will hold all the legal documents relating to the Constitution of the Comunidad de Vecinos. He will also have the keys to all public and utility access points. He is also legally responsible for the collection of the quotas. His obligation is defined under Spanish law to take bad payers to court to recover any outstanding amounts. This process is rapid and effective, and will leave the debtor with a nice extra bill for costs. So, at the risk of repeating myself, it is most important that you arrange for your bank to make these payments automatically on demand. Any other matter that cannot be resolved by the committee and/or the community of Spanish property owners would finally go before the courts. The Administrator would take over at this point and everything would fall into his hands. The president would be expected to help him collect any evidence that might be required. The committee might also decide to place some items under his control, just because circumstances make it more practical. Pool maintenance is a typical example where the contractor would deal directly with the Administrator, who would also control the quality of the work being done.
A meeting is arranged by the president and the Administrator. They try to ensure that as many members of the committee are present as possible, but, unless the community rules state otherwise, just the two of them are sufficient to make a decision on most topics. Majority vote wins, and the president usually has a deciding vote in case of even split. If you are a committee member, it is therefore most important that you do your utmost to attend these meetings. If the decisions taken are bad, you are partly to blame in the eyes of the rest of the community. It's not much fun being berated by upset neighbours while you are trying to doze off next to the swimming pool on a sunny afternoon. And blaming the president because you were not at that meeting is not a good enough answer! I have had the humiliating experience of having an 80+ year-old lady giving me more than an ear-full on a public street because she did not like the design of the new security doors we had voted for. As it happened, she had a point; so I was in the horrible position of having to wait for her to run out of steam while passers-by eyed and ear-wigged us with great interest. Not recommended. 80+ year olds have a lot of time and, when it comes to grousing, energy. At the meetings, each item from the last AGM is considered to establish what progress is being made toward fulfilling the AGM decisions. Those present discuss the merits and faults of each situation, what can be done to finalise each issue, or whether it needs to go back to the AGM because of problems that were not apparent at the start. Plans and estimates for services and purchases are considered. Decisions taken, and permissions given go to the Administrator to proceed with contracts. The committee will also sometimes issue a letter to the whole community to inform them of an important decision, such as a change of insurance company, or to advise that a proposed installation will cost more than first thought, or just to say that an issue has been resolved. This will allow for some feed-back before finally committing all the property owners to an important expenditure. Complaints are also discussed, as well as if there are any enforcements to be made, and how to make them.
Information on expat health insurance, public and private health care in Spain, as well as and international travel medical and health insurance.
Information about colleges in Spain and how the system works, what degrees to get, how long they take and a list of universities across the country for all courses and subject areas
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.
Information about the Spanish and International school systems for children of expatriates living in Spain. Also provides information on higher education exchange programs with the EU (Spain) and the USA and Canada.
Contact information for emergency services with the police department, fire department, ambulance and your embassy, and in case of domestic abuse and credit card theft. A short guide to Spain's emergency services.
Information on sending packages and mail home, particularly to the USA and Canada. Shares the generally negative experiences with the postal service in Spain and how to avoid these problems in the future.
Information about doctors in Spain including both public doctors through the public clinic system and making private doctors appointments. See the extensive list of English speaking doctors in Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga, Spain.
A guide to where to live in Barcelona according to The Expatriator, originally written in 2007 and recently updated.