Court in Galicia awards partial refund for mortgage setup costs

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

Lower courts around Spain are reaching different conclusions regarding the proportion of setup costs that borrowers can reclaim from lenders. The latest ruling, from Galicia, is a blow to borrowers hoping to claw back as much as possible.

If you have taken out a Spanish mortgage in recent years you will have had to pay all the mortgage set up costs including the notary fee, registry fee, and Stamp Duty Tax (known in Spain as the Impuestos de Actos Jurídicos Documentados, or AJD).

What kind of figures are we talking about? To give you an example, for a typical mortgage of €140,000, notary costs would be around €550, administration costs €250, land registry costs €230, and AJD €1,800, totalling around €2,830. Then there are the valuation costs, say €300, which lenders also insist borrowers pay, with a grand total of more than €3,000 in set-up costs for a typical mortgage.

I recently had to pay more than €10,000 in mortgage setup costs, so I know what a bitter pill this is to swallow.

But since December 2015, when the Spanish Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo or TS) ruled that clauses forcing borrowers to pay all the set-up costs were abusive, lower courts around Spain have started interpreting that ruling in different ways.

Some courts have awarded partial refunds, and some have awarded total refunds. The latest news on this front is that a lower court in Galicia has awarded a borrower just the Land Registry costs, which are relatively small.

In this case the borrower won the right to claim back just €293.97 plus legal interest, compared to more than €3,000 had all costs been awarded. Hardly worth the effort.

So the jury is still out when it comes to mortgage set-up costs claims. As regular legal-contributor Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt pointed out in his blog here at SPI on this subject back in January (Lenders to Pay for Mortgage Setup Costs), “I urge you to resist the siren songs of many a law firm luring you to take on your bank from glossy newspaper ads – at your own cost. At least for the time being, until the dust settles and there is a clear court stance on the matter of mortgage setup costs.”

About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based Spanish property market analyst, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008).

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