Intense lobbying by the British government in the EU, English language press, and by expatriate residents in Spain has resulted in the Spanish government conceding that English language help for property owners will be made available as new property regulations came into force on July 7, 2011.
In the first instance, property owners and buyers will now be able to request a copy of the ‘nota simple‘, the Land Registry Certificate, in English. The certificate contains all of the pertinent details of the property including any charges against the property. The English language nota simple will be available from the Colegio de Registradores, or can be applied for online https://buyingahouse.registradores.org after paying a 29 Euro fee including VAT and translation (See Currencies Direct Spain for the best conversion rates).
In addition, owners of property bought outside planning regulations, a form of ownership known as ‘fuera de ordenación’ can now apply to have their interest recorded in the Land Registry for additional protection. Specifically, this will allow owners who bought in good faith to have their property recorded in the registry, whilst also protecting the fuera de ordenación status of the property. This is particularly important for owners of properties who may in the future face demolition orders, and are unable to prove their claims due to not having their property listed in the Land Registry.
The changes to the Land Registry now mean it is no longer possible to have a property included and a ‘nota simple’ issued until a license of first occupation has been approved, a construction license approved, and finally a technical certificate from a technical architect stating the construction and building standards meet those of the plans under which the construction license was approved.
Whilst these changes on the face of things appear to be simply a case of amending the laws to add more detail to the ‘nota simple’, in fact these are significant indeed since the majority of land ownership demolition orders and fines over the last 25 years have been due to non-conformance with Land Registry regulations.
By including all pertinent information in the nota simple, and by making this available in English from the College of Architects, the Spanish government hopes that future investors will at least be able to understand the notations in the property certificate thus avoiding a repeat of previous years.
The most significant development however relates to future purchases of Spanish property, an update to the Ley Estatal de Suelo which will make it impossible for buyers to purchase Spanish property that does not satisfy local town planning laws, and therefore, cannot be issued with a nota simple.
Unfortunately, current owners of property under ‘land grab’ litigation will not benefit from the new changes, and the British government and EU will continue to lobby the Spanish government to have these properties legalised, or at least offer compensation to owners whose property is subject to a demolition order.
Giles Paxman, the British ambassador in Spain stated, “I welcome these initiatives. Communicating essential information in English, combined with the measures announced in the decree, should help to ensure buyers are accurately informed of any legal issues connected with a property.”