The Nota Simple is one of the most important documents used in the Spanish property conveyancing process. This FAQ by Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, a solicitor qualified to practice in Spain and the UK, answers all your questions about the Nota Simple.
By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
8th of April 2013
What is a Nota Simple?
It is a short legal report of the property (garage, dwelling, store room etc.) obtained from the Land Registry. In English the Nota Simple is called a Property Registry Filing.
What information does a Nota Simple contain?
- The current owner(s)
- Type of ownership
- General description of the property i.e. number of bedrooms, kitchen, living room, etc.
- Total built square metres and percentage of communal areas. Common hold quota and its share
- Boundaries of the property
- Any charges, debts, easements or encumbrances that limit the use of the property i.e. mortgages, rights of way, rights of view, unpaid council tax, community debts, private debts, embargo pending legal resolutions, usufruct right, foreclosure procedures etc.
- Classification of property i.e. residential, agricultural, VPO (‘Vivienda de Protecccion Oficial’; social housing)
- If there is a mortgage against the property it will have an overview of the basic details: total amount owed, total number of years to repay it, number of monthly instalments, outstanding debt, applicable interest rate, default interest rate, full mortgage liability etc.
- And sometimes even the cadastral reference; only if you are lucky
Is the information always accurate?
No. Boundaries, particularly for rural property, are hazy at best as the boundaries are described subject to the names of neighbours who may be long dead. Also the description of the property may be completely inaccurate. For example, if the owner has undertaken works to refurbish the property or made extensions to it these will obviously not be recorded at the Land Registry.
In the case of rural property, many owners took advantage of a legal loophole and using a licence for ‘aperos’ (rural shed tool hut) built instead a luxury villa with swimming pool. At the land Registry the property’s description will remain as the original agricultural land with an orange grove with a small tool hut of 10 square metres. If this owner plans to sell on the property without having updated the Land Registry’s details the buyer will have trouble on seeking finance from a lender. The lender will only see rural land while in reality there may be a 2mn euros property sitting on the land. The lender will only lend a small percentage of the value based on what it deems the rural land to be worth which will be considerably less. The seller will be forced to update the land registry details if he wants to sell.
The nota simple is like taking a legal photograph of a property at a certain moment. It’s accurate at that time but may change over time. If you request a nota simple one week and the following week a charge is placed against it this will obviously not appear in the nota simple of the previous week. So basically a property has a dynamic legal status which is subject to change over time. The nota simple takes a still picture of the legal status at a given moment only. If you want an update you will need to request and updated nota simple as it is logical.
What do I do if the information is not correct?
The property owner(s) needs to fix it himself, at his expense. You normally will need to hire a lawyer to sort out the inaccuracy. On the above example, where a villa has been built on rural land, the lawyer will need to draft what is known as a ‘Declaración de Obra Nueva’ (New Build deed). The owner will have to pay the associated taxes to the town hall for this extension and only then will this new deed be allowed to be signed before a notary. Once the new build deed is signed by the notary it will be lodged at the Land Registry. The Land Registry details will be automatically updated after some time to match the changes made to the property following the new build deed.
What is the Notal Simple used for?
A nota simple is very practical and has multiple uses.
- Buying or selling property. If I want to buy a property; I would want to check if the property has charges, liens, easements or encumbrances against it.
- Loans. Maybe an owner needs funds and requests a loan against the property. The lender will verify what percentage of the property they own or if it’s freehold and if there any other debts or charges against it.
Who signs it?
A nota simple is not signed. You can apply for it in person or online.
On the other hand, a ‘certificación registral’ is a formal document the Land Registrar signs personally which is ‘authentic’ and makes proof of the content of the Land Registry (i.e. in judicial proceedings). It is more expensive.
Where is it kept / stored?
A nota simple is really just an extract of the Land Books, so it is not kept anywhere. The Land Books are physically stored at the Land Registry and the custodian is the Land Registrar assisted by other civil servants.
Is it possible to get a copy in English, or do I have to arrange my own translation?
Yes, you can obtain it in English online. You have to pay extra for the work of the translators that are outsourced by the Land Registry. This will be a document that is drafted in double column Spanish-English. A standard nota simple (only in Spanish) is cheaper.
Are copies legally accepted documents, or do you have to have the original?
No, they are not. A nota simple is a non-certified document only suitable for general information purposes. A nota simple has no legal validity as proof. If there are any errors in it no one is held liable.
If you require a legally accepted binding document you have to request the more expensive ‘certificación registral’ signed and sealed by the Land Registrar himself which is ’authentic’ (it is a public document) and can be used in any legal proceeding. If there are any errors in it the Land Registrar is held personally liable and will have to pay compensation to the affected person out of his professional indemnity insurance cover.
I’ve lost my copy, how do I get a new copy?
You can apply for a nota simple in person at the Land Registry or online.
What information do I need to obtain a copy?
There are a number of ways, as explained at the Registradores.org website:
- IDUFIR. This stands for single property registration identifier. The fastest search.
- Search by particulars of the property. You have to provide the town details, land registry details, volume, page, number etc. Ideally the best way is if you already have the land registry number of the property. This information is normally in the title deed or in the mortgage deed. If you have an old nota simple this will normally also have it.
- You can also look for properties if you have the name and surname of the owner(s). Additionally if you have their NIE or passport number. If the property is under the name of a company it may be more difficult.
- Search using a street address. This is the most challenging search.
How long does it take to get a copy?
If you apply for it in person it is usually ready on the following day.
If you apply for it online it takes between 24 to 48 hours.
How much does it cost?
A nota simple is less than £9. With translation into English it is more expensive.
A certificación registral will set you back more.
Can I request a Nota Simple online?
Yes, just click the link below and follow the instructions:
Generic Nota simple Example
Click the link below to see a sample copy in Spanish & English. This generic nota simple is dissected and fully explained in English.
2013 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, All rights reserved.
There ends the Nota Simple FAQ