Property Lawyer in Spain | Blocks of Flats Propiedad Horizontal

Blocks of Flats

The ownership of a flat in a building with more than one owner is ruled by the so-called Ley de Propiedad Horizontal.

This law distinguishes between the private ownership of each flat, business premises and garages, and the shared ownership of the land, walls, roof, communal elements such as lifts, entrance halls, heating systems ( if they are communal).

The Law is also usually applicable to houses in a shared housing estate “urbanización”.

The quota in the share of common parts is generally established by the developer or owner before marketing. The assignation of each quota can not be arbitrarily done but is based on the surface area of the flat or premises in relation to the total building area, whether the flat is interior or exterior, its location or the presumed use of the common services. The quota can be changed by the decision of all the owners at a given time, or by court resolution in case of conflict.

The quota is important for two things:

1.- The quota will be used to determine the majority of votes in the community meetings so to adopt an agreement it will be necessary not only to have a majority of owners but also a majority of ownership quota.

2.-The quota will also be used to determine the amount each owner has to pay in community fees, for communal expenses, refurbishments or improvements.

Each flat will act as a guarantee against unpaid community fees for any given year and the three previous years whoever the owner is. At the time of buying, the seller must provide a certificate showing what the current debt is, if any.

The buyer shall notify the person who is in charge of the administration of the change of ownership ( usually a professional who will use the aforementioned certificate).

The community is represented by an owner elected by the other owners (or on a basis of rotation or the drawing of lots). The role is called the ” presidente” and he or she usually remains in the post for one year.

The management of all the community issues is carried out by decisions made by the owners in meetings called ” Junta de Propietarios”. The meetings take place at least once a year for budgeting, electing the ” presidente” and on any other occasions that are considered necessary by the ” presidente” or are asked for by a quarter of the owners or a quarter of the community quotas.
Any owner can ask the president to include any issue in the agenda ( orden del día) of the next ordinary meeting

The meetings must be called with at least six days notice for ordinary meetings or with sufficient time for all the owners to be informed of the meeting place, time and issues to be discussed for extraordinary meetings. The notice will be given in the property or in the address in Spain given by each owner. If no communication is possible, a note will be fixed in a common part of the building giving three days notice. The owner can be represented so it is not necessary to attend in person.
Any agreement reached may be contested in court when it is contrary to law, community statutes or is perjudicial for the community, benefitting only one or several owners or is seriously damaging for a single owner or the agreement is reached with abuse of rights.
The period for claims against any unfair agreement is one year for agreements contrary to the law and three months in other cases, counted from the date of notification for those that did not attend the meeting.

The necessary majority for reaching agreements is as follows ( Remember that is always a double majority, majority of owners that must also have the majority of cuotas)

.-Unanimity to affect common parts of the building or modification of the statutes

.-1/3 to install new telecommunication services, renewable energy supplies, new collective energy installations

.-3/5 of owner and cuota to authorise holiday lettings in the building

.-3/5 for establishment of services like a porter or security ( When a non essential service is voted for and the installation costs exceed three months’ of ordinary contributions, those who voted against will not be affected nor will have to pay even if they can not be excluded from the benefits. If they can be excluded from the benefits they may ask at any future time to take advantage of the new services

.-Ordinary majority to adopt agreement to install a lift.

No agreement needed to remove barriers for disabled people, even the installation of a lift nor to make refurbishments ordered by the competent authority, to be payed by all the owners not to install an electric charging point in the garage to be paid for by the single beneficiary.

In individual apartments or premises, there is private ownership but with some possible limitations. For example, the owner can be limited by the community rules ( estatutos) in the activities which they can undertake in the flats or premises.
The community rules are those established at the time of construction of the building ordinarily by the developer. They can also be established or changed by the unanimous vote of the owners at any given time. By way of exception, since 9 of March 2019, the owners can limit the activity of holiday letting by a vote of 3/5 of the current owners that represents at least 3/5 of the community quotas.


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