Horror stories in the UK press have led to certain reservations amongst potential purchasers of Spanish property. Various TV programmes have also helped to portray Spain as the land in which one's beloved home can be declared illegal and bulldozed virtually overnight.
As overheated and inaccurate as many of these sensational reports are, the Spanish Government is mindful of this bad press and now seems determined to rectify the situation.
From now on, ex-pat home buyers will be able to request a Land Registry Certificate (or nota simple) in English from the Colegio de Registadores. The certificate can also be obtained via the website by visiting: http://buyingahouse.registradores.org and will cost 29€ plus VAT, which includes a translation fee.
Giles Paxman, Britain's Ambassador in Spain, was enthusiastic about this news: “I welcome these initiatives. Communicating essential information in English, combined with the measures announced in the decree, should help to ensure buyers are accurately informed of any legal issues connected with a property.”
However, he added that, “...these measures will not, of course, do anything to help existing homeowners who have been experiencing issues with their properties. We will continue to work with the Spanish authorities to ensure these problems are addressed.”
The new initiative, announced on July 7th, also allows homeowners who bought property under a fuera de ordenación (outside planning regulations) to be recorded on the Land Registry. This will protect purchasers who bought in good faith, while retaining the limitations of the fuera de ordenación status.
Incorporating all relevant information pertaining to the property's legality into the Land Registry means that aspirant purchasers, on requesting a nota simple, will be able to see for themselves the existence of any legal proceedings against the property, particularly those that might ultimately lead to hefty fines or demolition orders.
Most pertinently – given the amount of adverse publicity attracted by the Costa Blanca land-grab cases – the new Ley Estatal de Suelo will make it impossible for ex-pat investors to buy property that contravenes town planning laws.
This new initiative extends to offering increased protection to purchasers of off-plan buildings, stating that it is now impossible to record a property on the Land Registry unless it carries a licence of first occupation, a construction licence and a technical certificate, confirming that the building standards and layout conform to the plans for which the licence was issued.
All of this will please potential home owners, who will no doubt welcome this new atmosphere of transparency.
If you would like more information about this new legislation and how it affects you, the team at Perez Legal Group is available to offer informed help and advice.