Frequently asked questions

Your most common questions addressed

The police have brought a letter from a Spanish Court, what do I do?

Often clients bring us a letter or call us saying they have a Court letter and what is it? Generally this relates to something that has happened to them, maybe a long time ago, say for instance that the clients has been mugged and made a police report at the time and are now being called as a witness, but it can vary considerably

It can also be some type of accusation against the client. If you receive an official letter then it is important to act quickly and refer to a solicitor. Usually this first letter is to appear at Court to collect documentation and then your solicitor can explain the case and what action needs to be taken. For instance, if it is a case that needs to be defended there will be a set number of days to respond and to defend a law suit, your solicitor will need a provision of funds and a litigation power of attorney.

If you receive one of these letters, then please contact us as soon as possible.

My spouse is diagnosed with a serious cancer, what should I do about our affairs in Spain?

When a spouse is seriously ill, there may be some matters that can be put in order before they pass away, depending on their state of health. If there are assets in Spain, and it is at all possible, a Spanish Will should be made, as although a home country Will may be used a probate will be needed and this can take a long time to obtain and be expensive. Besides also considering funeral arrangements etc. it is best to ensure that passports, NIE numbers, SUMA/IBI bills, copies of property deeds, Wills can be easily found if need be. We have known people to be advised to transfer the property out of the spouse’s name when they are ill, before they die, to the other spouse. This is not advisable, bad legal advice and actually far more expensive.

Are common law partners treated the same in Spain as married couples?

'Common Law' marriage, or relationship, in Spain is still relatively recent by Spanish standards. These days of course it is much more popular for couples to co-habit without the intention of getting married, including same-sex couples, and wish make their relationship more formal.

In the English language this would be referred to as a 'common law partnership / marriage', however in Spain there is no assumption that such arrangements will automatically be treated in the same way as officially recognised marriages, unless they have been registered with the authorities. The law in Spain currently does not automatically recognise a claim on property and assets between unmarried couples.

I purchased football tickets online from a Spanish company for a Barcelona match and then discovered I had to go on a business trip. What can I do as the website refuse to refund? Can I make a claim online?

It is only possible to make a complaint with the Consumer Bureau in Spain in person, however this is the link of the European Union for online shopping claims under Consumer Law.

It is possible to place a claim through this European Dispute Resolution page, but also a lawyer could prepare a formal legal letter, which might not be effective, so it would cost more to involve a lawyer.

If someone pays by credit card then it is best to contact the credit card company to stop the payment. You could also write to the company referring to the European Consumer Directive and say you will be making a claim and you are giving them a last opportunity to resolve this without you putting in a formal claim through the EU Consumer Protection website (Brussels) against the company.

My wife and are I are both UK citizens and my separated wife lives in Punta Prima, Spain. Can we file for divorce there? I live in Singapore.

Yes, one partner must live in Spain to use this as a jurisdiction. We would need a copy of the marriagecertificate and a padrón for the wife to show she lives in Spain.

If the divorce is amicable and straightforward then we could prepare it anywhere over Spain using the local Courts to your wife and the property. We would need a power of attorney from you. If it is contentious or with children then it would have to take place in the Courts and would need a local divorce lawyer.

We live in the UK and recently visited Torrevieja with a view to purchase a property for the future. The day before we flew home we found a semi detached villa we loved in Torreveija. We paid 4000 euros deposit and was told they would send the contract. They have requested a 25% deposit in the next two weeks, asking price 170,000 euros. Please could you advise what the correct cause of action is to ensure this is all legal and no debts etc are attached. It is very difficult when we are in the UK.

Our first step would be to check that the agents do really have the authorisation of the sellers to sell this property. We can help you with this and all the other steps involved including liaising with the estate agent and the seller’s solicitor. It is very important to check that the property is free of any debts.

Had you agreed to pay an interim payment or you only heard now when receiving the contract? Have you signed it yet? As the completion date stated in the contract is by the end of next month this middle payment seems to be excessive.

We can help you with the whole legal side of the purchase: getting all the legal paperwork sorted, and checked, organising the Notary appointment, NIE numbers, Power of Attorney if required, bank accounts, calculation and payment of taxes etc. Anything you may need here in Spain, we can help with and quote the costs.

Can you help with Military Certificates?

Yes, we can help with military certificates. After Brexit, UK citizens will be non-Europeans. Thus if purchasing a property in a military coastal zone (which is much of Orihuela Costa and the surrounding coast), then a Military Certificate will be required. We can help with the stages in this process..

Is my Residency Certificate valid?

Many people are concerned their Residency Certificates are not valid, but if you have been a registered resident for more than five years then you are entitled to a certificate that confirms your status as a permanent resident. However this is voluntary and not essential and at the moment Residencias are not that easy to obtain in Spain.

I am looking at purchasing a property and wondered what planning laws were like? I want to extend a room and put a pool in my garden.

Many people want to buy a property that is a bit of a project and needs work and update it like in the UK. They should bear in mind that planning laws are quite strict and permission and licences are needed for almost all works, basically in two categories – major and minor works. You should consult us if any work is required and we will advise if licences are needed.

I have lost my divorce Resolution from Spain. Is it possible to get a copy?

Yes, if we know the Court where it was issued we can request it from them, or the Central Civil Registry. Will need details such as passport copies, NIE number, date of marriage, any helpful information.

What are my tax obligations as a non- resident home owner in Spain?

There are two annual taxes you need to be aware of: IBI or SUMA is basically council tax. This is a local tax for maintenance of local facilities, roads etc, paid once a year for the current year. If you need help with a SUMA issue please let us know.

Then Non-Resident Tax. Many people confuse this with the SUMA tax, however, non-resident tax is a completely different tax from SUMA. This a is a tax charged by the Spanish government (not the local town hall), to all individual owners of properties in Spain who are not fiscal residents. It is an income tax based on the value of the property, and does not relate to whether the property is rented out or not. It has to be paid for the calendar year in arrears and is a legal obligation to pay this. We can help with these Non-Resident returns for non-resident owners all over Spain. We need a copy of your deeds by email, the last Suma/IBI bill, copies of your passports and NIE numbers.

I am going to sell my property? How do I know if I have to pay capital gains tax?

Capital Gains tax is based on a gain when selling. It is a tax on the difference between the acquisition value and the transfer value, currently 19% for non residents. The Spanish Tax Offices withhold 3% of the sale price at the Notary to check your tax situation. A professional should advise you in advance of the tax you need to pay. Spanish Residents pay CGT through their tax return the year following sale. Just to clarify: Tax office withhold the 3% until you present the CGT in the Tax Office (within 2 months since completion). Then, you could recover some money or be obliged to pay a little more, depending on the amount of the gain. We can help calculating the taxes before completion or claiming money back after completion.

Is there capital gains tax with a dissolution of joint ownership in Spain?

In Spain the 3% towards capital gain tax, nor plusvalía (local town hall tax) is not paid with a dissolution of joint ownership or division of tenancy in common because there is no gain. Capital Gains Tax is national tax and plusvalía a local tax, but both based on the same principle: a gain. If there is no gain, there is no tax, neither locally nor nationally. There are many regulations and many binding answers from the Spanish Tax Office. We can help calculate the taxes or claim money back.

What is Plusvalía Tax?

Plusvalía is a town hall tax paid on the difference between the value of the land when purchasing and when a property or share of it is sold. It accumulates each year (although only paid on transfer of ownership) then after sale or transfer of ownership starts from nil again.

If I sold my property this year, do I have to pay the SUMA/IBI bill this year?

The tax demand for the property will still be issued in the name of the owner as at January 1st. This has recently changed and the Supreme Court in Spain has ruled that pro-rata is applicable so the seller will pay until the day he sells and the buyer will pay from next day. We assist with this as part of our conveyancing work.

Eviction Common Questions

Is it the same eviction proceeding for tenants in arrears, and squatters?

No, there are different proceedings for non paying tenants and illegal occupants/squatters. We can help with both.

What is the position where a tenant remains in possession of a property after the end of the tenancy, where no rent has been paid since before the expiry of the contract?

The same proceeding, if they are not paying the rent, we need to apply for eviction. if they are paying rent and utilities we may need to study the situation.

What is the law regarding disconnection of utilities? Can we at least stop paying for them?

No, you can never stop paying or cut off utilities, as it could be considered a coaction and jeopardise a legal case.

If the tenant has sublet illegally, do the sub-tenants have any protection?

Subletting is illegal and we will have to open a sub proceeding in the eviction for the subtenants and tenants.

What problems can there be with an expired tenancy if the tenant is still paying the rent?

The problem is that we will need to study, if, by law, if it is their only habitual home and if they are paying rent and supplies up to date, then they may have the legal right to stay in a house for 5 years. Only if they are not paying rent or utilities as agreed in a contract could we apply for eviction.

I have read that I can ask the tenants to leave and return to my property if I intend to sell or live in the property?

This is only the case if the rental contract had a clause to this effect and it is only to live in the property not for sale.

What is the usual process and time-line of an eviction and what documents do you need?

We need the contract/s, contact details for the tenant or squatter and a breakdown of outstanding rent and supplies (plus deeds and IBI property tax bill) if possible. We start with a formal legal letter by burofax, required by law. If there is no response or not satisfactory response, then we need to start a legal eviction action through the Courts. This can take 6-12 months.