The Escritura – Spanish for Title deeds – is one of the most important documents used in the Spanish property conveyancing process, as it everywhere that recognises private property. This FAQ by Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, a solicitor qualified to practice in Spain and the UK, answers all your questions about the escritura / title deeds in Spain.
By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
8th of April 2013
What is an Escritura?
‘Escritura’ is a generic term. In this FAQ it is understood as the Title deed to a property.
1. What information does it contain?
A Title deed is a long legal document that has a great deal of information. It will contain:
- Former owner(s) personal details (seller)
- Buyers personal details
- Details of the legal representatives involved
- Details of the translator
- Land Registry details
- Property address (which rarely matches the real street address)
- General property description which is usually obtained from a nota simple (dwelling, garage, store room)
- Cadastral reference
- Property price
- Taxes involved
- Breakdown on how the price is being paid
- Reference to the mortgage – if applicable. The full mortgage details are in a separate deed called the Mortgage deed
- i) Certificate of the Community of Owners stating the property is debt-free and up-to-date with its communal payments.
- ii) Utility bills
- iii) Council tax bills
- iv) Cheques
- v) Copy of the Licence of First Occupation (if buying off-plan)
2. Is the information always accurate? What do I do if the information is not correct?
Yes, it normally is accurate. You contact your lawyer to sort it out.
3. What is it used for?
A Title deed is a public document that certifies the change of legal ownership. Once the Notary signs it, it will then be used to lodge it at the land registry to change the ownership details.
4. Who signs it?
The seller, the buyer, the lawyers involved, the translator and the Notary.
5. Where is it kept / stored?
It is kept at the Notary before whom it was signed.
6. Is it possible to get a copy in English, or do I have to arrange my own translation?
Not possible. You will need to arrange your own translation.
7. Are copies legally accepted documents, or do you have to have the original?
Copies are not legally accepted documents. They are not signed or sealed. There is no ‘original’. The copy that is handed to you at completion is not an ‘original’. You can lose it and it will not matter. You can always request more copies.
A legally accepted document is the ‘copia autorizada’ which is signed and sealed by the Notary himself.
8. I’ve lost my copy, how do I get a new copy?
You can request it from the Notary before whom it was signed. It may take several days.
9. I want to get the escritura for a property I am interested in. How do I go about it?
Unless you have a legitimate interest you cannot. Only the vendor, or his lawyer, can supply you with a copy. In many autonomous communities in Spain it mandatory for real estate agencies to store copies of title deeds for properties in their books. So if you are interested in a copy they should be able to provide you with one.
10. Where do I get a copy from?
From the Notary before whom it was signed.
11. What information do I need to obtain a copy?
With a copy of your passport or NIE number it is sufficient.
12. How long does it take to get a copy?
A simple copy (‘copia simple’) a couple of days at most. A ‘copia autorizada’ (signed and sealed by the Notary himself) may take longer.
13. How much does it cost?
It has no fixed cost. The price will vary according to a number of elements such as the number of pages. On average €40 to €50 (£30 to £40).
14. Can I get request a copy online?
15. If not, what information about a property can I get online?
You need to request a nota simple from the Land Registry which is a different document altogether. Please see my Nota Simple Explained FAQ.
Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV
2013 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, All rights reserved.