Call me jaded. Buying rural land in Spain is unlike anything in the United Kingdom; it is riddled with problems. Beware of anyone telling you the opposite; they are lying through their teeth. It accounts for well over half of the horror stories affecting expatriates we read in the press every now and then. The main reason behind this is that most people do not fully grasp the concept of rural land in Spain which differs from their home country.
From this simple misunderstanding stem most of the problems i. I simply cannot stress enough the importance of appointing a conveyance lawyer from the outset on buying rural land in Spain. This is the single best advice I can give anyone.
This can be explained for a number of legitimate reasons i. Until the Spanish IHT is not settled, the property cannot be registered, mortgaged or sold by his beneficiaries. With rural property in particular it is often place the vendor is not the registered owner specifically when buying from locals. This is because inland property may be passed several times from one generation to the next without anyone actually bothering to update the change of ownership at the Land Registry.
This will likely be the first check your appointed lawyer will carry out. You can actually request a Nota Simple yourself from the Land Registry where the property is located; either physically or online you have to be a registered user for the latter. Only the registered owner or else someone appointed by him acting as proxy through a Power of Attorney can sell a property. It may come as a surprise, but do not take a Title deed for granted when it comes to rural land.
Indeed, Title deeds may not even exist. As a rule-of-thumb I recommend walking away from a rural property that has no Title deed. The legal nightmare you are going to get yourself into is seriously not worth the aggravation. Should a Title deed exist, it is frequently outdated and inaccurate.
When a lender checks the Title deed only a one-bedroom campo house is mentioned with an orange grove; there is no trace of a villa. Consequently a lender will only volunteer a small fraction of the asking price as it considers the new extensions do not exist legally. This may jeopardise the sale for lack of appropriate funding. They seek to improve their lifestyle by requesting a lifetime loan.
A lender will examine the deeds of the rural property and will only offer them a mere fraction of what they could have achieved had these extensions been properly registered. The lesson to be learnt here is that what is not legally registered at the Land Registry is as if it did not legally exist to a lender.
Any debts go against the property itself, not against the owner i. Any debts or charges become the responsibility of the new owner. Deed restrictions create limitations or obligations on the property use that a would-be buyer should be made aware of prior to acquiring the land. Rural property abounds with easements unlike its urban counterpart due to its very nature. Common examples:. Be at the ready to collect all those spent cartridges. Typical discrepancies include but are not limited to:.
This discrepancy can be explained because land over time may be extended to compromise adjoining plots which are bought or else may be reduced as a result of successive inheritance procedures that divide it. These changes may have gone unrecorded officially. Limiting the boundaries of a plot of land using the names of neighbours long deceased is not exactly ideal. This can be highly confusing. Needless to say boundary stones can be displaced heavy rainfall and a tree can always be chopped down.
These blurred lines give rise to interesting legal disputes between adjoining plots of land. Any discrepancy will bring about legal and financial consequences such as those I have highlighted above in my second tip regarding seeking finance from a lender using the property as collateral.
I feel compelled to emphasise this point as it affects scores of rural landowners and may in fact lead to criminal prosecution by the state. Traditionally Spanish Authorities were lenient in such cases to the point nothing was done for decades. However over the last years the Government has taken a firm stance clamping down on all who build on rural land earmarked as unfit for development.
The reason a landowner would breach planning laws and risk prosecution is because a rural plot of land stands to appreciate significantly on building a villa. Almost every case we read on the newspapers of British having their rural property under threat of looming demolition relates to what I have just explained. This carries on from the previous point.
It is essential your conveyance lawyer ensures the rural property complies with both local and regional planning authorities. Relying on its validity they went on to build a villa on their rural land; so far, so good. However, unbeknown to them the BL was challenged administratively by a third-party. This led to an ongoing dispute between the town hall and the Regional Planning Authorities over the legality of the issued BL.
Regional Authorities are empowered to override planning decisions made by hierarchically lower administrations, such as a town hall, so they are bound to win. As a result their dream villa was demolished — at their cost.
Is the Property Connected to the Mains? As a result north and north-west Spain has a cold and wet climate with heavy rainfall comparable to the UK. Whereas south and south-east Spain enjoys a privileged warm weather all year round.
The practical impact this climatic diversity has on rural property cannot be underrated. Whilst water may not be an issue in the north, southern Spain is a whole different story. It often suffers from severe bouts of draught lasting several months. Local Authorities will enforce severe water restrictions. Water shortage coupled with sweltering heat is a lethal combination that will kill off any tree or plant in your property. However even such wells dry up from time to time as was the case of my clients who were baffled because they had basically been cut off from their water supply and were very much isolated in their campo house in the middle of nowhere.
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