Land Registry Excerpts, called nota simples in Spanish, can now be requested in English, which the government hopes will encourage foreigners to invest in Spanish property.
The new facility was announced by Alfonso Candau, head of Spain’s College of Property Registrars (Colegio de Registradores), and Beatriz Corredor, Secretary of State for Housing, pictured above.
A limited version of the Spanish Land Registrars’ Association’s website is has just been launched in English, allowing some types of property searches to be done in English, though the website is not that easy to use.
If you know what you are doing, and have the right information to hand, you can request a Land Registry Excerpt for a property, and have it translated into English for downloading. The document costs 9.02€ and 30€ for an English translation, plus taxes (updated prices correct in 2021).
The translated information extracts will give the usual information contained in a nota simple, such as the vendor’s details, a description of the property, and the existence of any charges, embargoes or liens against it. You can see an example Land Registry excerpt or information extract in both Spanish and English with explanatory notes here.
The problem is the website in English is not that easy to use, and the translations can seem a bit strange in places.
To request an excerpt you need to know the unique identification code of the property (CRU or Unique Registry Code, formerly known as IDUFIR or Unique Registered Property ID), or the address and potentially the land registry office for the property. For a search on the owner’s name you will need a valid Spanish digital certificate, and in all cases you need to justify your search. The search and purchase process is complicated and most people outside of professional circles will find it too difficult to use.
Spain’s Property Registry – similar to the UK’s Land Registry – records all deeds of sale that have been notarised and inscribed in the register (which can only be done once all taxes have been paid). The surest way to protect title to a property in Spain is to get it inscribed in the register, and buyers always need to check it before they commit to a property.
Beatriz Corredor said it would make foreign buyers more confident by providing them with all the fiscal, legal and town planning information they need “in a way that is easier for them to understand.”
Giles Paxman, British Ambassador to Spain, also welcomed the new facility, plus other measures to protect property buyers introduced by the Spanish Government in a decree on 7 July.
“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,” said Paxman.
Unfortunately, the new measures do not solve the problems of the past, as Paxman points out.
“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,” he said.
The following videos explain a bit about the Spanish Land Registry.
You can also search for property at the Registrars geoportal, which is even more complicated to use.
The new measures introduced in the 7 July decree (as summarised by the British Embassy in Spain) include:
- Allowing properties which are ‘fuera de ordenación’ to be registered on the Land Registry. The decree says this will protect owners who in many cases bought in good faith, while retaining the ‘fuera de ordenación’ status and the limitations this implies.
- Ensuring that essential information regarding the legality of the property is incorporated into the Land Registry. This means that when purchasers request a ‘nota simple’ from the Land Registry, they will be able to see whether there are or have been any legal proceedings against the property, such as proceedings which may result in fines or demolition. It will now be obligatory for town halls to provide registrars with this information. If town halls fail to provide this information, they will be held responsible for economic damages affecting third parties who bought in good faith.
- Confirming that it is impossible to acquire rights which contradict land and town planning laws due to administrative silence (this is also included in the Ley estatal de Suelo). This measure clarifies that a licence cannot be granted due to passivity or inaction by town halls. Instead, the transformation, construction and use of land requires administrative authorisation and if the timeframe for a response expires without the individual receiving authorisation, the lack of a response will be considered as a negative decision.
- Increasing protection for purchasers who buy off-plan from a developer. The decree states that it is not possible to register a new property on the Land Registry unless it has a licence of first occupation, a construction licence and a technical certificate which states that the property corresponds to the plans for which the licence was granted.
British nationals considering buying a property in Spain should also visit the property section of the UK in Spain website (British Embassy).