How to check legality of a property?

Spanish Property Insight Forums Spanish Property Forums Property Questions & Answers How to check legality of a property?

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    • #54683

      Let’s say one finds an apartment in one of the many coastal areas in say Costa del Sol. Let us also consider that the apartment in in a finished urbanization, with no cranes in sight.

      And also that the urbanization is not beach front so that there is no possibility of being too close to the shore. Also, the urbanization in not in a National Park or preserved area.

      With all these, is it still necessary to check the legality of the property?
      If yes, what are the steps? Go to the giunta local and ask for all the documents concerning that urbanization? Would they provide this information (after paying a legal fee)? Do they give this information only to lawyers?

      If the local people say it is OK, does one need to to the Andalucia level and check if the property is legal (from what I understand, the Priors were legal from Almeria point of view but not from Andalucia point ov view)?

    • #89669

      IMO, check at both local and regional level. Do some of it yourself and some with a lawyer (not a local one!) as sometimes lawyers cant be bothered to check the details even when asked.

      Just because it is away from the coast, dont assume it’s legal. it may have been built on non urbanizable land.

      Check yourself if the urbanisation is on the local PGOU (if there is one and if it has been ratified by the regional government) by going to the Urbanismo office of local Ayuntamiento. They should be able to tell you straight off if the urbanisation was granted permissions to build and what the permissions cover, has got the license of habitation already and has all necessary infrastructure and if the land classification is correct for the build. Just give them the developers name and GPS co-ordinates.

      If they say that the PGOU hasn’t been ratified but will be soon – dont believe it until you see it.

      Make sure the town hall dont have any plans for taking the urbanisation over for local/social housing or if they are going to run a rail link through it!

      If your Spanish isn’t great, take an interpreter. It’ll be worth the money as they can ask the right questions for you.

      Get a lawyer (well out of town) to check with the Catastro and Land Registry to see if there are any outstanding mortgages by the developer on the urbanisation. You wouldn’t want to inherit one of those.

      Even if everything seems clear locally and provincially, yes get your lawyer to ask the Junta of Andalucia (or whichever big regional government oversees it all) to provide a paper that says it is clear of denuncias, fines, and all ok etc. I’m sure a good lawyer can tell you what this paper is called. The trick is finding a good, reliable lawyer.

      Put your instructions about what you want in writing. The Spanish seem to like to arrange a lot of things verbally but you have little comeback if they dont do what you have said.

      Whatever you do, DONT trust the locals to say that everything is fine,
      they have a vested interest. Everyone knows everyone else.

      DO trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right – run a mile.

      Good luck and do your homework. Doing nothing and hoping it’s legal shouldn’t be an option. Very risky indeed!

    • #89671

      Fran, thank you for the detailed answer.

      I am wondering how much would it cost to hire a good/reliable/honest lawyer to do some of the searchings. Are there searchings where a private buyer cannot have access and only lawyers can access?

      Are the local/regional authorities willing to provide all the documentation or they need to pushed/persuaded to do so?

    • #89674

      For DIY the best place to start is the planning dept. of the local Ayuntamiento. They will know if it is illegal. Another is to buy a Nota Simple, this will tell you if there are any debts etc. on the property. Can be bought on line for abut 9 euro. If not on the spot it may be cheaper to just get a Lawyer to do everything. As the previous poster wrote, draw up a list of questions for the Lawyer. They do not normally do searches on future developments/infrastructure unless you ask them to do.

      You could also try naming it on here as someone may know the development. Nothing like local (honest) knowledge.

    • #89675

      @katy wrote:

      You could also try naming it on here as someone may know the development. Nothing like local (honest) knowledge.

      Thank you Katy, I shall visit the area soon and look at some properties.

    • #89676

      As far as I know, if you want basic information regarding legality locally, just go to the town hall as suggested. They probably wont give you any paperwork pertaining to the build but probably will answer your questions, if you ask the right ones.

      If you want Catastral info or land registry info in writing, then only a lawyer can obtain this (as far as I know) and will probably be able to quote you a basic fee for basic searches. If you want more, and detail this in any correspondence you send, they should be able to tell you a price range.

      I doubt that they will give you a fixed price as it will depend on how much writing they will have to do to get the information you want and this will be a bit like a piece of string i.e. dependant on agencies outside their control and certain times of year are more difficult, for example Easter, Christmas or major religious festivals/public holidays. These can all slow the process down. Good for them, bad for your pocket.

      Set a financial limit yourself and tell them that you dont want to go over it and get them to tell you when they’ve reached it. Then you can make the choice to proceed further or not. Be warned, some companies will pass you from pillar to post ie from a senior solicitor to a more junior one to deal with your case. Therefore your initial conversations about cost and what you asked for or agreed to, run the risk of being forgotten or lost and will need mentioning each time. Dont assume that they have passed this information on between colleagues.

      Get a recommended, well out of town lawyer. The British Embassy have a list, but will not say that they recommend them exactly.

      Dont use lawyers recommended by locals. I know this is difficult but try getting independent recommendations, even friends that you know can be using a dodgy lawyer without realising it.

      I’m afraid that I cannot answer all of your questions regarding regional/local/provincial government processes, but the above is what I would recommend given our own, difficult experiences in Spain.

      I’m sure that there are other forum users out there who know the government/legal processes far better than me.

    • #89677

      Good job, Fran! Your answer is complete and reliable.

    • #89692

      You don’t say if it’s new or resale.

      Another area worth looking at is community meeting minutes – if community has been established that is!

      A number of communities are not viable at the moment and are having to cut costs and restrict services as not everyone is contributing.

      An example would be where say the development is made up of 60 units and 40 have been sold and the developer who is on the verge of collapse is not paying community fees on unsold units and of course there will always be owners not contributing!

      The problem is the unsold units are usually heavily mortgaged and the outstanding mortgage exceeds any realistic sale price.

      So unless you enjoy long-winded meetings debating whether the spa and/or pool should be closed or restrict gardening etc to avoid deficits etc then think twice. Otherwise you might end up with a perfectly legal apartment but no services!!!!

      Again a good solicitor will go the extra mile which you need to do in this harsh climate.

    • #89693

      JJMIjas is correct.

      The Administrator will not pursue the developer as he/she would like more business from Developers. Further most people are happy to pay their contributions if the costings are done correctly & transparently.

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