February 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm #194931
Sorry if placed in the wrong forum.
We own a villa and have a buyer. It seems the legal work was not done correctly when we purchased around 12 years ago. We acted with what we thought was a lawyer via the agency which no longer exists and seems to have taken the ‘lawyer’ with them! We signed at the notary aware the size of the property wasn’t correct. We were informed by the ‘lawyer’ it was legal. We had a fax from the sellers solicitor saying that 4000 euros was in his client account to put right the size. We assumed this had been done.
On finding a buyer a nightmare has become reality. It seems that the documentation has not been done. The lawyer does not have 4000 in his client account as it was never agreed. We have also found out that the extension is in fact illegal. Not only that but the land our house and the one next door are on land owned by a private holiday complex which consists of 4 units. The owner a local owns 60% with us and next door 20% each. He needs to sign to allow us to update the land reg to sell. He is refusing point blank. We don’t know what to do.
On looking at another copy of the deeds it seems the original house was not registered as correct either. It has been registered initially the same size as the units for the complex although who ever registered must have been aware the large difference in size. We believe it to be the owner of the complex so perhaps this was tax dodge?
We really have no idea what to do. There is also a mortgage on the property which was issued based on an extremely high valuation if they used what was on the deeds. This mortgage was adjusted so lawyers were involved twice. Is there re-dress there?
Has anyone please any thoughts on what we can do. We do not know why the complex owner won’t just sign. Although it is being stated this is a complex no complex has ever been formed. We suggested therefore he form one as we thought this would give us leverage – he won’t.
I’m going out of my mind with worry. We paid 450,000 euros for the house and have an offer of 495,000 now. The mortgage is still running.
February 2, 2017 at 1:37 pm #194934
Sorry I said form a complex. I meant a community which the complex only says it is.
February 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm #194971
I am feeling rather desperate. Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts please? My worry too is that being British against a local isn’t going to work in my favour? Also forgot to mention that this is Mallorca and not mainland Spain – if that makes a difference?
February 3, 2017 at 9:54 pm #194972
I’m very sorry to read of your situation. I can imagine how stressful it must be. However, it’s too complicated to get any meaningful advice here. You need to talk to a good lawyer, one that is working for you, not the agent. Do you know of a good lawyer in Mallorca?
Don’t worry about being British and that counting against you. In my experience the Spanish legal system doesn’t discriminate against foreigners. Sometimes foreigners are at a disadvantage when it comes to local politics, bureaucracy, and understanding how things work, but now when it comes to legal process in the hands of a good lawyer.
February 3, 2017 at 10:18 pm #194975
Thank you so much for your reply Mark. I realise it is a very complicated situation. I haven’t been able to find a lawyer I have faith in to be honest.
Thank you again.
February 4, 2017 at 9:58 am #194979
Annie, sometimes things aren’t as bad as we imagine. I know a lawyer who might be able to help you. I’ll send you a private message later on today or tomorrow.
February 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm #194983
February 5, 2017 at 6:34 pm #195007
Hi Mark – I’m Annie’s partner. She is having problems logging on and also can’t seem to find a private message icon. Links from your private message email are not working.
Anyway to say thank you and we have contacted your suggestion today. Will keep you up to date but any more ideas would be very grateful to receive. Thanks again. Dan
February 6, 2017 at 1:27 pm #195016
I hope Annie has resolved her problem logging in. Let me know if that is not the case, and what the problem is.
To send a PM you simply click on the name of the person you want to PM, then click the private message button on the new page.
February 6, 2017 at 3:40 pm #195017
I don’t have any professional advice to give you. One thought came to mind though and that was that I have come across situations (in the UK and in Spain – involving when estranged spouses won’t sign so that a property can be sold) when a person should sign something and won’t and a judge has stated that the signature is being unreasonably withheld and so signs it instead. No idea if this would apply in your situation, but I find that lawyers often have to be guided and so it is worth you asking whether this would be feasible.
In terms of your worry, I understand it very well. I had a sale fall through after a year of faffing about. In the meantime the bottom fell out of the market. The agreed sale of 157,000 thus fell through and a year later we managed to sell it for 105,000. We had received about 8,000 deposit from the first aborted sale – their lawyer then tried to threaten and intimidate us into returning it when we had in fact used it to do a legal thing they demanded which was for us to ‘sell’ it to each other as a couple in order to create a ‘chain.’ So we didn’t have it anyway. I was worried sick and dreaded every email from my lawyer – who was way too soft and out of her depth and advised us to return half of the deposit. Then I read in the Times one day how buyers in London were being forced to continue their purchases and I threatened their lawyer – saying that unless he stopped sending the emails I would insist the purchase go ahead. Never heard from him again then. Reading that one article made it worth having read pointless Times article for years!
All in all, we had an awful lot of worry and were about 50,000 down. This was 9 years ago and now it is a distant memory. Remember it is only money and your family and your health are far more important – in fact there is no comparison. All the best with this.
February 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm #195028
Hi Ros thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to respond. Funny enough we spoke with a lawyer this morning who said that we may be able to sue as this person not signing is stopping a sale and may be deemed to be unreasonable behaviour. He is unsure. Also what became clear is the Spanish have a very different view of things we take seriously. He said that Spanish would not worry about things such as land registry and in his opinion neither should we! He also said that most property registrations would not be correct as that is how they do things! As for what is illegal and not legal he said that the extension is not legal but as it has been there for over 6 years it is not illegal either and not to worry about that. He was very laid back about the situation which frankly isn’t really that helpful to our position as we are selling to British who want the land reg put right. Also we would have to pay the taxes not paid on the difference between the original registration and what it is now plus interest. We have no idea when the extension was put on but guess not long after the house was built nearly 40 years ago! Therefore that could be quite a lot of money. Not sure really what or where we go from here.
Ros I think your situation was just as strange but different. Both of us have had a nightmare to live but thankfully yours is over. Thank goodness you didn’t have to give back the deposit. We haven’t received one so I suppose we consider our house to be on the market. As you say it’s money but it also leaves such bitter memories. We just want this man to sign so we can change our registration so we can walk away too. Would we buy again ….. never!
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Annie.
February 6, 2017 at 8:49 pm #195039
So sorry to read of your dilemma; and like Mark has said I am sure things may not seem quite so bad once a good solicitor gets involved. I have owned holiday homes in Spain for over 25 years and always use local ‘natives’ be it solicitors, builders, architects, etc. At least I know they will still be around after a few years and not dissappeared back to UK or wherever. I have never ever experienced any anti British vibes, quite the opposite, and have a house on coast in Costa Blanca and current house is inland Valencia region. Unfortunately in every society there are people who will try to rip you off, Spain is probably no different to many other countries.
In your last post you say that Spanish have a far more laid back attitude; and yes they do. We Brits find it hard to comprehend but it is a fact of Spanish life. I am not a solicitor, but regarding your extension, it is indeed common not to declare changes on the escritura . To do so would just increase the local ‘Town Hall’ tax which is based on sq metres of construction. It is easy to amend the escritura at time of a sale and would need an artchitect to measure up the property. Yes you will have to pay back taxes but Spanish tax law means they can ONLY go back 4 years. So looking at that positively you have a slight bonus from the lower tax you paid in the past.
And having amended the escritura your extension will then be legal !!
Hope that helps take a bit of worry away. Good luck with the other aspect, regret not a lot I can add about that, sounds a bit more involved but suspect it is to do with the ‘community land’ aspect
February 6, 2017 at 9:52 pm #195040
Thanks Kevin for your post and encouragement. I really appreciate it. Also god to know about the Spanish law re going back 4 years for tax. We have paid the town hall on the total amount of square meters as the house is now. It is the land reg and escritura which are wrong. TO have ammended we need the signature of the old man in the apartments behind us as well as our next door neighbour who will gladly sign. The old man won’t. He was the original developer 4 odd years ago and registered wrongly the houses. He also made it a community with us and our neighbour owning 40% and he 60% the community was never set up. He just won’t sign. Our buyers are British and they will not purchase unless this is rectified. I have since heard this is quite common on the island. so we are not alone. Not that that helps of course.
We have no idea why he won’t sign as he just won’t say. We thought he wanted money but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I suppose we will just have to let this sale go and hope a local comes along which is highly unlikely.
Thank you again for your help.
February 7, 2017 at 10:38 am #195048
Good morning Annie,
First off, I hope you dont lose your potential buyer. They are few and far between at your price level. Maybe they will be patient knowing you are sorting the legal issues.
Let me say again, I am not a solicitor but you clearly need legal advice. It may be an idea to see if your neighbor will join you in sorting this as sooner or later it may affect them as well. And your neighbour may already have a trusted solicitor.
On the face of it, I think there has been a horizontal division of land, something similar to shared ownership in UK, and very common in Spain. When this was done a Deed of Horizontal Division should have been lodged with local Notary showing private areas allocated to each property and communal areas and the quota owned by each property. This quota determines voting rights and share of communal fees. It is also a legal requirement to form a Community of Owners and register Statutes etc of the community. Whilst you say the developer ‘owns’ 60% I think this may mean each of his holiday properties have 15%. And remember that you own 20% of the whole site, not just 20% of your plot.
What is puzzling is how this Horizontal Division was created seemingly without you knowing. My guess would be that it was done before you bought the property, but if this is so it should be very clear on your deeds and your neighbour’s deeds, otherwise your deeds will show that you own your plot outright. Did the developer build or previously own your property.
Whatever the explanation, I think he is in the wrong and has no grounds to withhold ‘approval’ for your extension which from your previous posts I am guessing would have been existing at time of horizontal division.
Annie, please get a solicitor to sort it. Don’t sit and hope for a more laid back buyer.
Sorry to preach
Good luck and keep us all updated with progress
February 7, 2017 at 10:10 pm #195088
Thank you so much for this information Kevin. It is helping us to clarify our thoughts. We are speaking with a lawyer tomorrow so will keep you updated.
We certainly don’t want to lose our buyer and realise this has to be sorted asap. We are unsure when the extension was built but would assume not long after the construction of the house.
Is there a website that we can access that will tell us exactly what is registered for the house. The information we have obtained so far is limited and of such little detail. Thank you again for taking the time and effort to post. We really appreciate it.
March 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm #196366
Just wondered how if your situation is looking any better.
What has happened with the nightmare neighbour ?
March 5, 2017 at 8:41 pm #196368
Funny enough I was just thinking of updating on here. We got back this morning after a somewhat useless trip. We have lost our sale! We feel so angry and upset. The neighbour refused point blank to even meet us to discuss therefore we are unable to adjust the documentation as we need his signature. You will not believe the reason….. apparently he fell out with the previous owners over 40 years ago. He knows the previous owners are dead and we have nothing to do with them but still he will not change his mind. We are now wondering if we can sue him for damages. He has lost us a sale and also stopped us putting our documentation right. He has actually put us in a position of not being able to sell. We need to think about everything and will contact the lawyer suggested. This really is a nightmare! Thanks Kevin.
March 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm #196410
Annie – that is simply unbelievable, speechless.
Is this man some sort of control freak with mental health issues. If anyone wants suing it would be the previous owners for not divulging this dispute and the solicitor who acted on your behalf for allowing the purchase to complete knowing the deeds were wrong. But in my experience litagation is a futile exercise. Better to move forward and resolve matters.
I cannot believe that a solicitor cannot have the approval ‘forced’ by means of the wholly unreasonable action of this neighbour. I think you said you were going to see a solicitor back in early Feb, did they offer no advice on this aspect. It might even be that a threat of legal action (ie letter from solicitors not verbal threats from you) might bring this man to his senses. Let him know via solicitor that you are serious in your intention to take matters to court if necassary and that he could be liable for all legal costs might just work.
If not, then as I say I cannot believe that, given the necassary proof of facts that approval ‘in absentia’ could be granted by the local Town Hall.
Just a final thought. Did you establish that you are on a community and when the community was established. And what are the community rules etc etc. If indeed it is a community how did the neighbour get your approval to build his holiday complex on community land.
Best of luck, be positive, it can be sorted
March 12, 2017 at 9:09 pm #196614
Sorry for the delay in response. We decided to go away for a few days to lick our wounds! Yes this local man is a control freak who obviously feels he is king of the castle. Well it seems he may just be! The lawyer we saw here to say the least was not at all helpful. I think the problem is this is not usual and no one really knows the ay forward. We were told on our recent visit to a lawyer that as Mr control freak owns 60% we can do nothing! Well we have since spoken to someone else who like you feels we can sue for damages and also take action against the non signing. After all we are trying to put right a wrong. We visited the notary for advice. He said it is a community as it was set up as a community on the documentation. There are no rules and it was never activated as such. Just the separation of him having 60% us and next door 20% each. As you know he will not sign as he apparently fell out with the previous owner of our place. We wonder if the extension on ours was built prior to his complex which meant he had to build illegally bit we don’t know. As I said we have never met him. He doesn’t live next door and neither does he speak English – it seems!! We have had an architect draw up the house and grounds and can prove everything was in place many many years ago as far as we are concerned. We have lost our buyer due to this so feel very unhappy as well as extremely worried. How can one person control the lives of people he hasn’t even met!
March 12, 2017 at 9:14 pm #196615
Sorry I forgot to mention that the ‘lawyer’ we had with the sale 14 years ago was not infact a qualified lawyer as we were led to believe. It seems he was a legal representative associated with the agent we bought through. Both are no longer in business and needless to say can not be found! Surprised there then!!!!
March 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm #196646
I think I would have been drowning my sorrows in Rioja, not licking my wounds.
I had not realised you have never met Mr Nasty. Just as another thought, why dont you try to get a meeting set up with this man, with someone to act as try to arbitrate a solution. Maybe a solicitor could suggest it to him as a precursor to you starting legal action against him. I have often found during my business life that people who are rude, arrogant, nasty and totaly unreasonable seem to change when they are confonted in face to face situations. It can be daunting for you, but could be worth a try. It is easy to be nasty via email etc but not so easy when you are sat across a table.
Must admit I am still puzzled as to why he has this power anyway. If a community has no agreed rules and the community was never activated. Can only assume it is some obscure Spanish law – but assumption can be dangerous. Might just be worth asking that question.
Nil desperandum !!
March 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm #196647
No we have never met this man. Neither have we had direct communication. It has all been via te agent and our lawyer. We spoke again with the lawyer today who once more said that he had spoken with him This man said it wasn’t his business so he wouldn’t discuss. When pushed he said again that he had fallen out with the previous owner and that was that. It is of course his business as he set up the community in the deeds. He was the original developer. He supposedly has the power as he has 60%. How can he have it both ways? The agents and solicitor seem to just accept this is how it is and feel we should accept it too. We are going out of our minds over this. I would like to sue him for damages. He has lost us the sale plus is stopping us putting a wrong right. Goodness knows what it may cost or how we might go about it. I actually just had a thought – I wonder if we have legal insurance with our house insurance and if that may help us?
It really is more than a nightmare! Thanks for your support Kevin
March 14, 2017 at 8:56 pm #196692
I dont know if I have been of any real help; but I do greatly sympathise with your dilemma. I try to put myself in your position and wonder what to do. Must admit I dont like the impression given of your solicitor. He seems frightened of confrontation with Mt Nasty; and he does need confronting. Either through mediation or in a law court.
So what options do you have ?
Accept it and hope at some time you find a buyer who would also accept it. Not sure about Majorca but in the Valencia region where my house is, at your price level, any buyer would almost certainly be non-Spanish and unlikely to accept inaccurate deeds.
So the other option is to find a solicitor who will fight your case. But as you say; at what cost.
Guess the final option, although somewhat morbid, is to wait for Mr Nasty to pop his clogs and hope his successors show more understanding.
best of luck Annie,
March 16, 2017 at 10:44 am #196776
My mind keeps coming back to your predicament, probably because it is caused by such arrogant stupidity on the part of your neighbour. Something kept nagging at me and I have read through my old files when I owned a house in Moraira that was on a community.
I hope the following may be of some asssistance for you Annie.
I dont know if this will help you Annie, as always you need professional advice but it might at least allow you to raise the idea with your solicitor. Following link is to an article concerning Comminity laws, and there have been other such articles on Spanish Property Insight over the years.
There are a couple of points in this article that might help you. Under the section Internal community administration and democratic process you will see 3 types of vote described. Unanimity takes into account shareholding but is only for very specific purposes. Simple majority is counting of hands of those present at the community meetings. In my community we had 10 smallish properties who shared large communal gardens and communal pool etc. Although there was some slight difference in house sizes we each had 10%. However 2 of the properties were owned by the same man (one for himself and wife to live in and other for visiting familiy). At our annual meetings even though he owned 2 houses he only had 1 vote.
What had been nagging me about your situation, is that if Mr Nasty had activated your community and held properly constituted annual meetings then yourself and your nice neighbour could have voted to approve your extension and he would have been outvoted 2:1. The issue of course is that he has not properly created to community, thus he has prevented you from the benefits of community owners – surely there must be something in Spanish law to prevent such deliberate negligence (sorry been trying to find something on intenet but my Spanish not good enough)
The other point from the article is Protection of minorites, and this could be of help. At least it seems this particular Spanish law acknowledges that minority shareholders have rights that cannot be ridden over rough shod by a majority shareholder. This man has used his majority shareholding to prolong a totally irrelevant long running personal vendetta against an individual who is now dead. His action is causing un-necassary harm to a minority shareholder for no valid reason whatsoever.
Unless this man comes to his senses it would seem some sort of legal action is necassary, which seems ludicrous to me. If a solicitor agrees that you have solid grounds to sue him, and this is then pointed out to him in no uncertain terms, then why on earth would he want to continue with this stupidity. What is needed of course is a solicitor who will act, not just fob you off.
As always – nil desperandum, mas vino !!
March 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm #196805
You have been so kind and I thank you for trying to help us. You are right that this man is totally unreasonable at the least. As for waiting for him to disappear from his cosy little world, i’m not sure if things would change. The agents and solicitor attempted to speak with his son. He will not go against his father and therefore refused to act as a go between or indeed meet with us. We have been told the son is a professional man (?) and the agent does a lot of business with him. Don’t rock the boat then!!! As you know the solicitor appears to lack any initiative to the problem too. Maybe they are all cousins! What is sure is that we need to do something! The lawyers we have seen so far seem to have no idea of how to go forward and just accept it is as it is. Frankly i’m fed up with them raising their shoulders and pulling faces at us! Thank you for the links and the info on communities. I’m going to read now and get my partner to do the same. My brain is very confused at the mo! I will be back to you and thank you again.
March 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm #196922
So sorry to hear of your nightmare situation and having spent almost 12 years here in construction – I can understand your frustration and anger. Spanish lawyers are all the same, money first and service if they can be bothered and they don’t appear to have a regulatory body to govern them. Have you thought about consulting a UK law firm that specialise in Spanish law? This way you will be protected under UK Law Society rules and you will know the fee structures resulting from their advice. Have a look at this website http://www.sjstokersolicitors.co.uk/index.html
I don’t know them and I found this link on-line and it may be another avenue for you to explore. Hope it helps.
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