The community & urbanization of Spanish homes are names that are often mixed up. These terms usually only apply to houses within the town itself (urbano). Your house or apartment often is part of a bigger total, the Community of Owners (Comunidad de Propietarios). This community mostly consists of a building but can also be a group of houses that share facilities.
An urbanization is an administrative term from the Town Hall for a certain area. In some cases the size of the community and the urbanization are exactly the same, so this might cause confusion in the name.
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Comunidad (Community of Owners)
In Spain many houses and apartments form part of a Comunidad de Propietarios (Community of Owners), for example for the following communal facilities.
- Garden maintenance
- Swimming pool
- Private road
- Reception desk
- Water supply in the country side (Comunidad de Regantes)
Ask your real estate agent about the yearly costs, because they might turn out pretty high. Most lawyers only check within the legal investigation of the buyer doesn´t have a payment debt (through a certificate). But it normally won´t include a study about the financial situation of the community of which you´ll be part. If you ask, the lawyer/solicitor or agent can ask for additional documentation. This consists of the notes of the annual meeting including balance/budget plus rules and regulations.
Exceptional costs in annual meeting
Keep in mind that you can just know the actual situation. As long as in the annual meeting there is no acceptance of extra-ordinary cost (like renewing a communal roof ), then you can´t expect that the seller pays for these potential future costs. This means that you can´t claim them either after completion (like hidden defects or costs). An example of this is when the majority of the community agrees to higher yearly costs or a one-off extra payment by all members for a certain cause.
The size of your dwelling determines the ratio/percentage of the total on which all costs will be calculated. This percentage will be filed in the Land Registry and appear in the Nota Simple of your property.
New Community of Owners for New Builds
For new build projects, there is no community yet and you can´t know what the yearly costs will be. All owners together normally chose a president, vice-present and administrator (voluntary and non-paid). They will be in contact with a commercial administration office (gestoria or Administracion de Fincas). They normally know all standard rules and obliged insurances of the Comunidad.
A good lawyer checks with the Town Hall if the total urbanization is administratively closed. For example when it comes to green facilities, roads or other infrastructure. If not, in theory many years later the Council can still charge the owners of that moment with severe extra costs. This, however, is only the case if the bank guarantee (aval) of the developer wouldn´t be enough. It will be clear that this is an important issue for newly build houses but it can also be for houses of already 20 years old.
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©2022, Ariane van Wijk