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News - May 2008

Decreto 218!

Well, there is probably only one main topic of conversation on the lips of anyone selling their home, renting their property or who is acting as an estate agent or rental agent in Andalucia at the moment – decreto 218!

This law was introduced in the latter half of 2005 by the Junta de Andalucia as a measure to protect the consumer from unscrupulous estate agents and developers.

In broad terms, the law states that if you are an estate agent offering properties for sale or rent, you will need to have certain basic information on those properties – seems sensible at first glance.

Thankfully, we at Torcal Estates have always tried to adhere to the law as best we can and have always gathered as much information about a property that we are selling. In some instances we have got information which has shown that there are issues with out of date paperwork and we have helped many hundreds of vendors to get their paperwork sorted.

What information is needed – this is where the law starts to show signs of weakness.

The main document which is required under the law is an up-to-date Nota Simple from the Registro de la Propiedad. This in itself is not a problem but when you look at the law a little more closely, you realise that this “current” Nota Simple is only seen as valid for a period of 3 months. This means that unless you are sold within 3 months you will need a new Nota Simple to comply.

Some properties can remain on the market for many months (and in some situations, years!) and at approximately €10 a piece this can start to add up (as well as the nuisance factor). If you have chosen to instruct 5 agents, you will need to provide each one with a new Nota Simple every 3 months. (You can photocopy them rather than apply for 5 originals).

The availability of a Nota Simple is an excellent idea as it confirms some basic information about the status of a property, who owns it, whether it has any debts or rights of way. It is concerning however, that the house recently demolished in Vera had a Nota Simple so it does not actually confirm the legal status of a property! As for having to update this every 3 months, well that’s just Spanish overkill.

In addition, you need to confirm that your property is free of any debt in relation to the payment of IBI (your annual property taxes). Normally, we simply ask to see your latest IBI bill to make sure that the property is registered for taxes and to make sure you have paid your most recent bill. Decreto 218, however insists that is insufficient and that a certificate is gained from the Patronato de Recaudación de Málaga to confirm that there are no outstanding bills.

We, at Torcal Estates, welcome any laws which are introduced to protect the consumer however a certain amount of common sense also needs to be employed to ensure that this law doesn’t hamstring vendors from selling and put even more pressure on the property market at this difficult time.

Some agents have been fined heavily for not complying with this law and in recent months some agents have actually decided to close rather than face the risk of non compliance. With the property market in a delicate condition, this law has placed an added strain on estate agents and vendors and seems to delegate responsibility away from lawyers who should, in reality, be the ones who deal with these issues.

If I am buying a property in Andalucia, I would ask my lawyer to check its legal status, whether there are any debts, is it free of charges etc and I would not just rely on the information given to me by an estate agent (no matter how professional they seem).

It seems to us at Torcal Estates that this law has been introduced to protect buyers (and that is great news for all of us) however the abdication of responsibility of lawyers to gather this information seems distinctly misplaced.

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