Dissolution of joint property ownership in Spain

Are you fed up with your partner? Did you know there is a special procedure in Spain to terminate property co-ownership which saves you up to 86% in taxes? Solicitor Raymundo Larraín explains to us how to re-arrange asset holdings in Spain between family and friends without attracting a great deal of taxes. Interested? Read on.

Marbella-based Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers has over 17 years’ taxation & conveyancing experience at your service. We offer a wide range of 50 legal and corporate services. Our team of native English-speaking lawyers and economists have a long track record successfully assisting expats all over Spain.

You can review here our client’s testimonials.

Article copyrighted © 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2020. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted.

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Director of Larraín Nesbitt Abogados
8th of June 2020

Original article from 14th of November 2.007

Introduction

Covid-19 has brought in its wake a host of nasty effects, both direct and indirectly.

Directly, by infecting and killing hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people the world over, from all ages.

Indirectly, by drastically changing our lifestyles as we struggle to cope and adjust to our new reality. Governments, in order to protect the most vulnerable elements of our society, are forced to curtail our fundamental rights and limit our ability to move freely, even forcing non-essential businesses to shut down. But more fundamentally, it has forced people into a seemingly never-ending lockdown, trapped within the walls of their own homes. As a result of these necessary draconian government-imposed measures, it has led to Depression-era levels of unemployment and having developed economies in free fall.

We have gone from Greta’s ‘save the planet’ to save ourselves in the span of only two months.

And we thought Australia’s wildfires, from early on this year, which ravaged the land and devastated wildlife, destroying in its wake thousands of homes and taking the lives of hundreds was going to be the major highlight of 2020. How little did we know. Does anyone remember when this was a thing?

Amid this dire financial context of millions of workers being laid off, myriad companies filing for bankruptcy, property price drops of 40%, or more, stock markets plunging into the red wiping whole family’s life savings, couples are forced to live 24/7 under the same roof – with kids. Understandably, this sparks great tensions or even drives a rift, putting relationships under severe strain.

Not everyone has what it takes to come out on top. Escaping from this ordeal unscathed is proving quite the challenge for most couples and as a result we are sadly witnessing more and more couples filing for divorce.

In this article, we explain a special legal procedure that can be followed in Spain to re-arrange property holdings which saves buyers a considerable amount in taxes. On buying resale property in Spain, a buyer is normally subject to 8% Property Transfer Tax (ITP), or even more, on the sales proceeds. However, on following what is known as a ‘Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership’ (or DJPO, for short) a buyer attracts only 1.5% Stamp Duty.

In plain English, this procedure saves you 86% in tax, or more.

Interested? Read on.

Definition

A Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership allows joint owners to re-arrange their share on a property in a tax-efficient manner as it enables the outgoing joint owner to transfer his share to an existing co-owner legally waiving the extreme Property Transfer Tax and paying in lieu 1.5% Stamp Duty (or less).

DJPO requirements

  • Both buyer and seller must be pre-existing owners of a property i.e. a married couple who own a property under joint names.
  • One of them wishes to terminate the situation and sell his/her share to the other joint owner.
  • If there is an outstanding mortgage on the property, a lender’s permission may be required to release the outgoing borrower/owner from his commitments.

Applicable cases

A DJPO is suitable in a number of cases involving joint property ownership:

1.- In a divorce or separation. Couples owning property jointly may decide to split up. Taking for granted they own a property in equal shares, one of them decides to sell their 50% to his ex-partner. The ex-partner will pay him/her his quota.
2.- Re-arranging inheritances. Beneficiaries of an inheritance transferring their quota on a property to a fellow heir. E.g. Sisters who inherit property transfer a share between them.
3.- Re-arranging property holdings between family and friends. Stakeholders such as family, friends or investors co-owning a property may decide to re-arrange their holdings.

Associated taxes & expenses

Both buyer and seller are subject to pay taxes on transferring ownership of the asset.

Buyer:

  • Pays 1.5% Stamp Duty on the outgoing share.*
  • Lawyer’s fees
  • Notary fees
  • Land Registry fees

*In some regions of Spain, due to devolved competencies, it is in fact well-below this quoted tax rate.

Seller:

  • Pays Capital Gains Tax on the outgoing share.
  • If the seller is non-resident, a 3% retention may be practiced on the outgoing share.

Forced Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership

What happens if one of the co-owners refuses to sell? This is when a contentious DJPO comes into play. It involves litigation.

There may be cases in which one of the joint owners may wish to terminate the joint ownership for good and sell the property. Fellow co-owners, for whatever reason, may turn down the proposal to sell the property as a whole and likewise may refuse to buy him out. This will result in a bitter gridlock that will erode personal relations.

To bypass the deadlock, any joint owner is entitled to force a DJPO through a competent law court (Arts 406 and 1062 of the Spanish Civil Code). The court’s ruling will overrule any dissent and the asset will be disposed of regardless of opposition from fellow co-owners. The property will then be auctioned off publicly to the highest bidder.

However, a forced dissolution through a law court is only advisable as last resort wherein the disagreement is serious resulting in a protracted stalemate. The reason is that all joint owners stand to lose significantly on following it. Sadly, at times, this may be the only legal solution to bring an end to an ongoing co-ownership quarrel.

In conclusion

A Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership is optimal to mitigate a buyer’s tax burden. In fact, you save 86% in taxes, or more, in a legal manner.

However, a DJPO may not apply in all cases. Seek legal advice on the matter.

A non-contentious DJPO works almost like a conveyance and can be arranged within a few days providing both parties agree to it. It can be arranged without any need to fly over to Spain by way of granting your appointed Spanish lawyer a specific Power of Attorney. The new re-arranged ownership will then be lodged at the Land Registry after the associated taxes are settled.

A DJPO neatly puts to rest the financial side of couples’ ongoing marital disputes, legally saving them a great deal in taxes. It’s a win-win.

At LNA we can represent you following a DJPO for a very competitive fee, regardless of the property’s location in Spain. We act nationwide. Ask us free of compromise.

Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers, small on fees, big on service.

Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a law firm specialized in taxation, inheritance, conveyancing, and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at info@larrainnesbitt.com, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88 or by completing our contact form.

Legal service Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers offer you

Related DJPO articles

Article also published at Larrain Nesbitt Abogados: Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership in Spain

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.

2.007, 2.010, 2.011, and 2.020 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved.

* This article has been written by a third party not owned or controlled by Spanish Property Insight (SPI).
SPI disclaims any responsibility or liability related to your access to or use of any third party content.