+44 (0)20 3478 1420
+34 977 249 960

Community Fees in Spain

If a property in Spain is part of a development with common areas shared with other owners, then there will be a Community of Property Owners and each property owner is required to pay Community Fees, which is a service charge by another name.  This charge goes towards the maintenance of communal areas such as gardens, paths and pools, or common parts of a building.  The failure of one owner to pay these fees can result in an unfair financial burden being placed on the remaining residents of the development.

E&G Solicitors in Spain can advise you on problem debtors and help you recover unpaid fees from owners who have failed to meet their obligations.

The role of the Community

The Community governs the day-to-day running of the property, as well as self-drafted bylaws that each member must adhere to. Part of the Community’s role is to collect the obligatory service charge, or Community Fees, which help with the day-to-day running of the development’s shared areas.

E&G Solicitors in Spain acts for several Comunidades de Propietarios (Communities of Property Owners) throughout Spain helping them to recover debt owned by property owners who have failed to pay their Community Fees.  If you are an administrator or president of a community of property owners then you will be mindful of the need to pursue unpaid community fees for the benefit of those members of the community who do pay their fees.  

How to deal with problem debtors

If one or more owners within the Community fail to make a payment of their Community Fees it can have serious financial consequences on the remaining, paying, property owners. In such cases, E&G Solicitors in Spain can help trace the defaulting party and ensure that they comply with his or her legal obligations under the terms of the Community.  E&G Solicitors in Spain can pursue property owners in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, commencing court proceedings in the owners’ home countries, enforcing judgments directly against properties and salaries where they live and petitioning for the bankruptcy of the worst offenders, if appropriate. 

Recovering community fee debt

E&G Solicitors in Spain acts for several communities of property owners throughout Spain helping them to recover debt owned by property owners who have failed to pay their community fees. If you are an owner of Spanish property and you are prejudiced by the failure of others to comply with their legal obligations, we can assist you in relation to the recovery of unpaid community fees and help you to ensure that standards do not slip.

If you are a President or an “Administrador de Fincas” and you are having problems with members who do not pay, we can offer a full service to assist you with recovering these debts. Our service includes locating the debtor and negotiating a settlement with a view to securing payment. 

At E&G Solicitors in Spain we aim to recover any unpaid community fees without incurring the costs of legal proceedings. However, we are also prepared to make fast track legal claims against the defaulting owners and enforce the debt in their home countries in line with the most convenient enforcement methods and the personal circumstances of each debtor. When recovering community debt, we differentiate between the amicable and the judicial phases of debt recovery.

Recovery of community fees - Amicable Phase

At E&G Solicitors in Spain we aim to recover any unpaid community fees without incurring the costs of legal proceedings. However, we are also prepared to make fast track legal claims against the defaulting owners and enforce the debt in their home countries in line with the most convenient enforcement methods and the personal circumstances of each debtor. When recovering community debt, we differentiate between the amicable and the judicial phases of debt recovery.

Case Study: Prompt and Amicable

In March 2015, E&G Solicitors in Spain was instructed by a firm of Spanish lawyers which was about to commence legal proceedings in Spain against five debtors based in the UK and Ireland in respect of unpaid community fees totalling €33,000.

Our client was mindful of the lengthy delays inherent in the Spanish court system and the hardship that the community was suffering as the result of the extremely high debt.  All negotiation with the debtors to date had come to naught and the community was beginning to lose hope that they would ever be paid.  They sought a solution that would be effective and rapid. 

We immediately sent the requests for payment advising the debtors that we will commence legal action in the UK or Ireland if they fail to discharge their debts within 14 days. E&G Solicitors in Spain’s tenacious and effective approach to negotiating with the debtors meant that three of the five debtors made payment within the time limit.  The remaining debtors put forward two payment proposals and discharged their debts within three months. 

The swift action and professional approach of E&G Solicitors in Spain meant that the communities recovered the full amount owed within three months and without having to resort to costly and time consuming legal proceedings. 

Recovery of community fees - Judicial Phase

Of course, not all debtors can be persuaded to make payment amicably and for that reason E&G Solicitors in Spain has developed a streamlined and cost effective method of progressing cases through the legal system that results in a fast resolution at a low cost.  If the debtor fails to pay the debt or defaults on the agreed repayment plan, we will assess, together with the community, whether or not to commence legal proceedings before the Courts of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.  Legal proceedings in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are processed much faster than in Spain and, in addition, the judgments from these courts can be directly enforced against the debtors’ assets in the country where they live.

The commencement of legal proceedings involves the payment of court fees that vary depending on the amount of the debt. These court fees can be added to the debt and following a successful claim, they will be therefore recovered from the debtor.

European Order for Payment and European Enforcement Order

We specialise in the recovery of debt by way of a European Order for Payment, which can be obtained from courts anywhere in the EU, other than in Denmark. No previous judgment is necessary in order to obtain the European Order for Payment. This means we can help you to recover debts quickly and cost effectively.

If you have already obtained an uncontested judgment in respect of a debt, we can help you to enforce that judgment in the country of residence of the defendant by way of a European Enforcement Order. This procedure speeds up the process of enforcing judgments and allows you to access the funds you are owed at a vastly reduced cost.

Enforcement 

Obtaining judgment is only the first step.  Once you have obtained a judgment in the UK, the court will only enforce it if you ask it to do so. Until you enforce the judgment, you will not receive payment of the debt.  There are different methods of enforcement and they will need to be considered in line with the circumstances of each debtor. 

Case Study: The Advantage of Enforcing in an Obstinate Debtor's Home Country

Mr & Mrs R never once paid the community fees after purchasing a property in Spain in 2005.  By 2009 the debt had risen to €7,000.  The community commenced legal proceedings in Spain and obtained a favourable judgment. However, as the debtors held no assets in Spain, other than the property, which due to the market downturn was clearly in negative equity, it was clear that the enforcement of the judgment in Spain was not cost-effective.

E&G Solicitors in Spain was instructed in January 2013 with a view to achieving an amicable settlement.  Mr R was initially responsive to communication by email, although no payment proposal was ever offered and the negotiations quickly broke down.   E&G Solicitors in Spain advised the community of the efficacy of the European Enforcement Order (EEO) in situations such as this, and arranged for an EEO to be issued in Spain. 

In April 2013, E&G Solicitors in Spain registered the EEO at the High Court in England and made the necessary arrangements to enforce the EEO against the debtors.

E&G Solicitors in Spain advised the community that the most effective way forward would be to instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer to deal directly with the debtors. 

The Officer made a series of visits to the debtor’s address in England and as a result of these visits, Mr & Mrs R agreed to a payment plan of €450 per month until the debt was discharged in full. To date, the debtors have maintained their payments and the community is recovering the unpaid service charges together with the legal fees charged by the Spanish court in relation to the judgment obtained in 2009.

The expert advice provided by E&G Solicitors in Spain meant that a settlement was agreed in good time and with a minimum of legal intervention, meaning that the solution was the most cost effective for all parties.

Our Fees

Our professional fee is a percentage of the total amount recovered from the debtor. This percentage varies depending on whether the amount has been recovered during the amicable or the judicial phase of recovery. The disbursements and our professional fee are recoverable if they have been included in the debt certificate. In other words, the community can add to the debt any recovery costs in order to recover the full amount owed by the property owner e.g. our fees, a professional search on the debtor’s name, legal costs in Spain, etc. We can assist with the preparation of the debt certificate.

What our clients say about our service

"When I was first contacted by E&G Solicitors in Spain I was intrigued.  I was administering a large community of property owners and we had a significant number of debtors.  In the beginning you always wonder if the service will be as effective as they sell it to you but we decided to give E&G Solicitors in Spain a go and we found that what they said was true.

 We obtained a satisfactory solution to a high percentage of the cases (I calculate in the region of 80%).  In the majority of cases there was no need to commence legal proceedings, as the debts were recovered amicably out of court.  This kept the costs down.

The thing I liked most about working with E&G Solicitors in Spain was the friendliness and close personal attention provided by the team as well as the follow up of each of the files so that if there was need to phone and ask about a particular case, they were capable of answering almost from memory.

The speed with which positive results were obtained inspires confidence in the service.  I would suggest handing over your debt files to E&G Solicitors in Spain because they obtain the best possible results.

As well as recovering the debt owed to the community, E&G Solicitors in Spain helped us to locate clients who had left Spain to return to the UK or Ireland and once the debt recovery process had concluded we were able to take things forward with the clients in a direct and fluid fashion.  What is more, in some cases the debt had come about because of the death of the property owner. E&G dealt with the inheritance matters and the redistribution of the assets including the sale of the property.

I would recommend the services of E&G Solicitors in Spain without doubt.  From our personal experience with the firm, the way our account was handled was impeccable.  We wouldn’t change anything."

Salome, Administrator of a large Community of Property Owners

Testimonials

E&G Solicitors in Spain took on the process (of my property purchase in Spain) from end to end and supported me through it every step of the way. I never felt like I didn't know or understand what was going on.

Julie Collins, Glasgow