Spanish mortgages – Latest news.

 

Following our previous article about mortgages in Spain.

The CJEU resolution (21th of December 2016) allows consumers to claim their money back retrospectively from Spanish Banks

 

As we explained in our previous article, The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) was recently asked to decide about an important case for Spanish consumers as well as for Spanish Banks. The final decision has now been issued and this is good news for those individuals who got a Spanish mortgage but not for the banks.

Some of you will recall that some Spanish mortgages signed in the last 15 years contained a clause that Spanish Courts recently declared null and void because of the “lack of transparency” and “the failure to inform customers adequately” when they signed the mortgage deed. These clauses are known as a “cláusula suelo” which means that they are subject to a minimum monthly payment even if the interest rate, which usually has a variable rate linked to the Euribor, is negative.

If you bought a Property in Spain during the property bubble (2000 to 2008) you were probably paying the appropriate interest. However, the interest rates were quite low after the recession and those who had a “clausula suelo” on their mortgages have been paying an unfair and excessive interest on their mortgages which they can probably claim back.

The consumer’s action group (Adicae) started in 2013, on behalf of 15.000 mortgage holders, a claim against banks claiming for the nullity of the “cláusulas suelo”, after these had been declared “abusives” by the Spanish Supreme Court but with a retrospectivity to May 2013. This was clearly unfair. If a clause in a mortgage was considered abusive then the consumer’s right to claim should not be capped to May 2013. It should be retrospective to the date in which the mortgage deed was signed.

The said action group went to Luxembourg asking for the backdating to the date that the mortgage was signed and the CJEU has today decided that Spanish Banks have the obligation to refund unlawful interest from the very beginning: backdated to the date the mortgage was signed (instead of May 2013).

This means that Spanish banks have to pay consumers around €4.000.000. Goldman Sachs says that BBVA will be the Spanish Bank with a higher debt in front of consumers with €1.815.000.000; CaixaBank (La Caixa) with €750.000.000; following them: Banco Popular and Bankia with €160.000.000. These are the main banks but there are around 40 more banks involved.

Obviously, there are some exceptions depending on the mortgage holder’s profiles or depending on the specific circumstances of each case, but what is clear is that if you or your clients signed a mortgage in Spain during the property bubble years you or them could have the right to claim some money back.

In the following months Spanish Banks will probably try to sign transactional agreements with consumers. We strongly recommend to contact a Spanish Lawyer for advice to 1) analyse your mortgage in detail and inform you if contains a “cláusula suelo” and 2) see if you have the right to ask for a refund when that Decision takes place and last but not least 3) to deal with your Bank to ask for the refund or to negotiate with it.

 

 

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

Spanish lawyers at gunnercookellp

1 Cornhill London EC3V 3ND 53 King Street Manchester M2 4LQ

 

Spanish Powers of Attorney signed in the UK

image-for-poaA new Spanish case Decision by the Director General of Notaries and Registrars in Spain (DGRN) has been issued on the 14th of September 2016 affecting Spanish Powers of Attorney signed abroad and therefore also those signed in the United Kingdom.

The said decision of the DGNR rejected the registration in Spain of a purchase transaction where a Spanish Power of Attorney signed before an English Notary Public had been granted. The reason for rejecting the registration of the document was that the Land Registrar considered the powers and faculties of the English Notary Public who notarised the Power of Attorney (POA) not sufficiently proved.

Under the aforementioned Decision, a foreign POA should have the same structure than the Spanish public documents. This means that the document should be signed by an authorized person with capacity to give faith and certify the identity of the donor/grantor and his/her capacity.

 

This Decision stated that the foreign POA should also mention that it will be legalized according to the relevant International rules. In the case of a POA signed in the UK, this means the legalisation of the document with the apostille of the Hague Convention.

 

The key point is to ensure on the document that the UK Notary public is giving sufficient warranties to the relevant Spanish authorities as to the capacity of the donor/grantor. From now on, a Spanish POA where the UK Notary Public is restricted to certifying the identity of a person will not be sufficient. A Judgment on capacity will also be required.

 

We are of the opinion, that the said decision cannot be extrapolated to all cases. The power of attorney that created this “storm” of doubts was a power of attorney solely drafted in Spanish and the Notary Public in question limited his involvement to adding a certificate to the power of attorney which lacked any mention to capacity. We therefore think, and hope, that Spanish Notaries and Land Registrars will reconsider their position with regards to the powers of attorney executed in the UK and will soon start to recognise these again. However, there could be the odd exception where a Spanish Notary or Land Registrar will turn down a perfectly valid power of attorney executed in the UK. To avoid these kind of situations, some carefully attention needs to be put into the drafting of the power of attorney to ensure that the document has a higher chance of being accepted in Spain.

Do not hesitate to contact gunnercooke’s Spanish desk if you require further information or help with the signing and execution of a Spanish Power of Attorney in the UK.

A quick guide on buying property in Spain for UK solicitors

Beach huts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a client looking to buy property in Spain?

How can you help him/her from the UK?

 It is quite likely that you will have one or two clients looking for a property in Spain. The uncertainty of Brexit and the temporary weakness of the Sterling pound has not stop British buyers from their dream of buying a home in Sunny Spain. It is true that they are not buying as much as they did before the recession but they are still buying second homes and looking for a place to retire or a place to spend family holidays.

Very often, clients will contact their trusted advisors to see if they can give them some guidance or recommend a lawyer able to deal with the purchase of the property in Spain. Obviously, you cannot be expected to be versed on Spanish law and the normal thing is to recommend the client to look for a Spanish lawyer or to recommend one, if you have come across a firm in the past and you were happy with the service provided. Having said that, knowledge is never a burden and therefore see below a few tips on what should and what should not be done when buying property in Spain which will prove of help if you are approached by one of your clients asking for advice:

1) Help your client to make an accurate budget.

Apart from the price of the property your client should consider other costs involved in the transaction:

– Taxes, Notary and Land Registry: Approximately 10%-12%.

– Spanish Lawyer fees*

– Surveyor**

* althoughnot mandatory (because the Spanish Notary usually carries out the main checks on the title and charges), we would always recommend instructing a Spanish lawyer who can collaborate with you when your client is buying in Spain. He will carry on a full due diligence on the property and draft the necessary contract. The Notary Public will not do the above.

** we would recommend to have one when your client is buying a resale property in order to be 100% sure about what yourclient is going to buy.

2) Inform your client that he/she should save a 30%-40% deposit plus 10%-12% for the Notary, taxes and Land Registry fees.

Nowadays, most of Spanish banks are not offering mortgages which exceed 70% of the appraised value of the property. Your client will need to ensure that he/she has enough deposit to complete on the purchase, usually around 30%-40%.

3) Your client should have a clear idea of what he is planning to buy before committing to a purchase

Spain has different regions with big differences between them in terms of weather, lifestyle, tourism, etc and most importantly, in terms of price. We would recommend your clients to visit the place in winter so they can get an idea of the way of life outside the tourist season.

Once they decide where they want to buy, the second step is to consider the different types of properties they can buy, i.e. brand new, old property, off-plan property, urban or rustic land, and obtain legal advice to ensure they are fully advised on all aspects of being the ownerof a property in Spain.

4) Encourage your client to check different options of mortgages.

Make sure your client fully understands the conditions of the mortgage offer. We would recommend to have the draft mortgage deed reviewed by a Spanish lawyer in order to ensure that it does not contain abusive clauses. In our recent article about Spanish mortgages we talked about some abusive clauses that some Spanish lenders have been including in their mortgages in recent years and that should be avoided when getting a Spanish mortgage.

Look for the mortgage which is most appropriate for your client´s income and financials. There is a range of mortgages on offer and yourclient should pay special attention to the interest rate, repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.

 5) Advise your client to reserve the property and sign a purchase agreement or “contrato de arras”.

If yourclient finally finds “the” property, he/she will have to reserve it while you and your Spanish lawyer will be collaborating and dealing with all the checks that the transaction requires to ensure that they are buying safely. Your client will need to pay a reservation fee of around 3000 Euro which will take the property out of the market. Then, once all the checks have been done, and the documentation has been reviewed, he/she will be asked to pay a deposit of around 10% with the signing of the purchase agreement (contrato de arras) and the rest will be due on completion.

Signing an “arras” contract means that both parties have the right to withdraw:

If your client decides not to proceed with the transaction he/she will lose the deposit, but if it is the seller who withdraws, or if the property has been misrepresented, yourclient will be entitled to claim double of the deposit: his 10% plus another 10% compensation.

6) Consider engaging a surveyor.

Your client may consider that the property needs to be surveyed by a professional with appropriate experience and qualifications. That is very sensible thing to do, but your client will find that some Spanish estate agents will discourage this. If that is the case, the client needs to follow his/her own instincts and still instruct his/her own surveyor.

7) Check the annual expenses of owning a property in Spain.

Be certain of the likely annual expenses your client will incur, including service charges, property tax (IBI), non-residents income tax, wealth tax if applicable, electricity, water, gas, etc.

8) Instruct an independent Spanish lawyer to collaborate with you.

All of the above-mentioned advice can became a terrible bureaucratic fight if yourclient does not engage the expertise and help of an independent Spanish lawyer.

A Spanish lawyer will guide you or your client through the entire process, avoiding extra costs and, what is more important, ensuring that the property your client is going to buy has all it needs to be transferred into his/her name: no charges, no development plans affecting it, etc.

You can instruct a Spanish Lawyer based in Spain or in the UK. Please note that there are several UK law firms with an in house Spanish lawyer able to provide legal advice without your client having to go to Spain.

 9) Warn your client not to declare a lower value than the actual purchase price.

In the past it was quite common to declare a low value for the property in order to minimize the transfer tax payable by the buyer and the CGT payable by the seller. Nowadays, the Spanish treasury will prosecute anyone who declares a price lower than the one effectively paid. The wrongdoer will be fined and additional interest will be applied. On the other hand, when your client decides to sell the property, he/she will be liable to pay Spanish capital gains tax on any profit made and he/she will be liable for CGT on a much larger (but not real) profit.

 10) Recommend your client to make a Spanish Will.

We would recommend your clients to sign a Spanish Will when acquiring a property in Spain. This in order to avoid potential problems in the future for their relatives and beneficiaries. It is not compulsory but in our own experience, really advisable.

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

Spanish Desk

Gunnercooke LLP

www.gunnercooke.com

 

London   Manchester

Do´s and don´t when buying property in Spain

dos-and-donts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do’s & don’ts when buying in Spain.

DO’S.

  • Make your budget.

Apart from the price of the property you should consider other costs related to the transaction such as follows:

  • Taxes, Notary and Land Registry: You should consider 10%-12%.
  • Spanish Lawyer fees*
  • Surveyor** although it is not mandatory to ask for a survey, we would recommend to have one in order to be 100% sure about what you are buying.
  • Real Estate Agency fees: if you are using a real estate agency for the search they will charge a percentage of the price, depending on the region although the norm is that this is paid by the seller.
  • * although it is not mandatory to instruct a lawyer when buying in Spain, because the Notary carry out the main checks (charges etc) we strongly recommend you to instruct one to ensure that your interests and investment are properly protected.
  • Ensure you have 30% for the mortgage deposit plus 10% for the Notary, taxes and Land Registry fees.

Nowadays, most of the banks are not offering mortgages which exceed 70% of the price, so you will need to ensure you are able to pay a deposit of 30%, as well as paying the costs.

  • Decide what and where you want to buy.

Spain has different regions with big differences between them in terms of weather, lifestyle, tourism, etc and most importantly, in terms of price. We would recommend that you visit in winter so that you can get an idea of the way of life outside tourist season.

Once you decide where you are going to buy, you should consider the different types of properties you can buy, i.e. brand new, old property, off-plan property, urban or rustic land, and obtain legal advice to ensure you are fully advised on all aspects of being a new owner.

  • Check different options of mortgages.

Make sure you fully understand the mortgage agreement you are going to sign. We would recommend to ask for the mortgage deed to be reviewed by a lawyer in order to ensure it does not contains abusive clauses.

Look for the mortgage which is most appropriate for your capabilities and needs. There are a range of mortgages on offer and you should pay special attention to the interest rate and repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.

  • Reserve the property and sign a “contrato de arras”.

If you find “the” property, you will have to reserve it while your lawyers are dealing with all the checks that the transaction needs to ensure that you are buying safely. You will need to pay a reservation fee of around 3000 Euro which will take the property out of the market. Then, once your lawyer is happy with the legal documentation, you will be asked to pay a deposit of around 10% with the signing of the purchase agreement (contrato de arras) and the rest will be due on completion.

Signing an “arras” contract means that both parties have the right to withdraw:

If you decide not to proceed with the transaction you will lose the deposit, but if it is the seller who withdraws, or if the property has been misrepresented, you will be entitled to claim for double of the deposit.

  • Consider engaging a surveyor.

You may consider that the property needs to be surveyed by a professional with appropriate experience and qualifications. That is very sensible, but you will find that some Spanish estate agents will discourage this.

  • Find out about the annual expenses of owning a property in Spain.

Be certain of the likely annual expenses you will incur, including service charges, property tax (IBI), non-residents income tax, wealth tax if applicable, electricity, water, gas, etc.

  • Hire a Spanish lawyer.

All of the above-mentioned advice can became a terrible bureaucratic fight if you do not engage the expertise and help of an independent Spanish lawyer.

A Spanish lawyer will guide you through the entire process, avoiding extra costs and which is more important, ensuring that the property you are going to buy, has all it needs to be transferred (no charges), no development plans affecting it, etc.

You can use a Spanish Lawyer based in Spain or in the UK. Please note that there are several UK law firms with an in house Spanish lawyer able to provide legal advice without you having to go to Spain.

  • Make a Spanish Will.

We would recommend to sign a Spanish Will when acquiring a property in Spain.

DON’TS.

  • Do not be forced by the bank to get their insurance or other bank products.
  • Do not sign any document if you do not understand them.
  • Do not pay more than what was agreed.
  • Do not sign any document without a Spanish lawyer.
  • Do not buy a property without taking legal advice.
  • Do not pay large amounts of money to developers who do not offer you the security of a Bank Guarantee for these payments.
  • Do not be tempted to declare a lower property value than the actual purchase price.

In the past it was quite common to declare a low value for the property in order to minimize the transfer tax. Nowadays, the Spanish treasury will prosecute anyone who declares a lower price. The wrongdoer will be punished and additional interest will be applied. On the other hand, when you decide to sell this property, you will be liable for Spanish capital gains tax on any profit made and, you will be liable for tax on a much larger profit when you sell later. The safest way is to ask at the payment office of the nearest tax agency and they will give you the exact value of a particular property.

By Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

People walk over Westminster Bridge wrapped in Union flags, towards the Queen Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and The Houses of Parliament in central London on June 26, 2016. Britain's opposition Labour party plunged into turmoil Sunday and the prospect of Scottish independence drew closer, ahead of a showdown with EU leaders over the country's seismic vote to leave the bloc. Two days after Prime Minister David Cameron resigned over his failure to keep Britain in the European Union, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a revolt by his lawmakers who called for him, too, to quit. / AFP / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

BREXIT AND SPAIN: TWO MONTHS LATER

WHAT WOULD AN EVENTUAL BREXIT MEAN FOR THOSE BRITISH THAT WANT TO BUY PROPERTY IN SPAIN?

How would it affect British people who own properties in Spain? And those who are in the process of buying them?

It is too early to know what is going to happen but the more immediate effect is the depreciation of the sterling pound. If you already own property in Spain then no need to panic and as the old saying states: Keep calm and carry on!

If you are planning to buy a property in Spain or have fallen in love with a specific villa and do not want to wait until there is more certainty about the future of the UK in the European Union, you can compensate the depreciation of the sterling pound with some measures. Below you will see some examples:

  1. You could offer to pay the purchase price in Sterling pound. This may prove interesting for the seller, especially if it is a British seller (something not that unusual these days). By doing this you will not be exposed to the depreciation of the pound and you will not pay a higher price for the property in Spain.
  2. If the above is not possible, you should then use a foreign currency broker who will be able to buy the Euro for a more favourable rate than the one offered by your High Street bank. Unless you are a High Net Worth Individual who has the privilege of having a bank account with a private bank, in which case you may get a similar rate to the one offered by a Foreign Currency broker.
  3. Finally, the economy in Spain and in the UK are not that stable. Use this point to negotiate a reduction in the price. In spite of an increase in property demand in certain areas of Spain, the property market is still far from recovered and the current economic and political uncertainty could help to get a substantial reduction in the price that could compensate the money that you may lose with the depreciation of the sterling pound.

These are just a few recommendations. Obviously, don´t forget to instruct an independent lawyer for your purchase. Whether is Antonio Guillen and Claudia Font at Gunnercooke LLP (or another lawyer) do not make the mistake of using a lawyer recommended by an estate agent or the seller because that could lead to a conflict of interest and eventually to a problem.

 

 

Santa Ana del Monte. A story of successful recovery of deposits paid to an insolvent developer in Spain

Construction site photo

 

 

 

Litigation is never an easy thing.

When I was a trainee lawyer in Spain, my boss, who was a walking enciclopedia and knew every single law in Spain, used to tell me:

“Antonio, it is always better to reach a bad settlement than entering into a long but good case in Court because litigation is, regardless of the outcome, always exhausting and some times frustrating”.

I always followed that advice and tried to settle where possible (provided that the client was happy with the settlement reached, of course) but sometimes a settlement is not possible because there is no intention to settle from the other party or simply because there is no money to settle. This is what happened with a development that I know quite well in Spain. The development was called Santa Ana del Monte in Jumilla and it was supposed to be a very interesting development with nice properties and golf courses until the recession put a halt on the construction and the developer had to file for administration, then eventually after 5 years of failed negotiations, liquidation.

When I say that I know the development quite well is because I had more than 100 clients who instructed me and a barrister litigator that we use in Spain called Emilio Lucas Marin (another very well versed lawyer who receives my admiration) to represent them in the insolvency procedure and try to get their money back. After 5 years of talks, legal writs, claims, appeals and some eventual sleepless nights the developer filed for liquidation and the clients were left with barely no chances to get their deposits back, deposits that ranged from 30,000 Euro to 100,000 Euro. We then explored a possibility that had been explored in only a few cases which consisted of issuing legal proceedings against the bank that had received the deposits. This kind of action could be taken on the basis that Spanish law 57/1968 seemed to state that when a bank receives the payment made by an individual towards the construction of an off-plan property, that bank could be held jointly liable if the developer does not supply a bank guarantee to guarantee the safety of that deposit. This is exactly what happened in Santa Ana del Monte. Purchasers paid their deposits into a bank account of a Spanish bank, the developer used the money and in most of the cases failed to secure the deposits with a bank guarantee. On this basis, we studied the possibility of taking action against the said bank. Other law firms did the same and others opted for issuing legal proceedings against all the banks that had provided bank guarantees for that developer in the past.  We decided to take action solely against whichever bank received the deposit in that particular case and it worked.

3 years down the line we have received more than 20 positive judgments where the Judge has ordered the bank to repay the deposit in full. Very often those judgments also order the bank to pay legal interest and legal costs. In other cases the Judge has been more prudent and not awarded legal fees but generally there is an order for payment of interests attached to the order for full refund.

We still have several clients who are litigating against the bank but looking at the current trend of Judges ruling in favour of the purchaser/client the odds are clearly in favour of the client.

What is the moral of this story? Well, first of all I still believe in the advice given by my first mentor in the legal profession. When dealing with a dispute always try to settle if possible. When this is not possible then litigate but make sure that you have sufficient legal grounds to win. And if by any chance you have paid a deposit for an off plan property and this was never built you may have a case against the bank that received your deposit. If that is your case, speak with a lawyer to see if you have a strong case against that bank as this may be your only chance of getting your money back.

In memory of Miguel Viladés (R.I.P), a superb lawyer and a gentleman who, together with his son Alberto, mentored me and initiated me into the legal profession.

 

 

I am an Executor on a Spanish estate. Do I still need an N.I.E.?

The answer is simple: Yes.

Any person appearing in a Will that is going to be used for the administration of a Spanish estate, whether this is an English or a Spanish Will, requires a N.I.E. number. Obviously, this applies to those who inherit the asset but also to those who are not beneficiaries under the Will but have been appointed as Executors of the estate. In the event of several executors there is no need to get N.I.E. for all of them unless they have been appointed in a joint basis whereby all their signatures are required for any document with legal implications.

The above means that if Joe Bloggs died with no Spanish Will but he had an English Will that covered all his assets around the world and in that Will he appointed his brother and his trusted solicitor as Executors, both of them will need a N.I.E number and both will have to fly to Spain to attend the signing of the deed of inheritance at the Notary’s office. If this is not convenient, they can give power of attorney to someone based in Spain (ideally a lawyer or someone they trust) to sign the deeds on their behalf.

With regards to the N.I.E. this can be obtained in different ways:

– In person at the local police station in Spain

– In person at one of the Consular offices or delegations of Spain in the UK ( Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London or Manchester)

– By way of granting power of attorney to someone based in Spain

For those who are not aware, there is no need to appoint an Executor in a Spanish Will as the heir/beneficiary has the same powers as a UK Executor. This is a mistake that many people make when signing their Spanish Wills. They appoint Executors when these are not necessary. Having said that, there is no harm in appointing Executors on a Spanish Will or in an English Will that is going to be used in Spain. It is just not as necessary and important as in the UK. In the end is up to the Testator or Testatrix to decide.

 

 

Honorary Consulate of Spain in Manchester

Picture with Patricia Roldan

CONSULADO HONORARIO DE ESPAÑA EN MANCHESTER

Antonio Guillen Hederich is the Honorary Consul for Spain in Manchester since June 2013.

An Honorary Consul is a person who voluntarily provides help assuming the functions that the General Consulate delegates on him. In the case of Antonio, his functions depend on the General Consulate of Spain in Edinburgh.

In the UK there are two General Consulates, one in Edinburgh and one in London.

Antonio’s area of jurisdiction is North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester and his main tasks are to help with the first passports and passports renewals of Spanish children in the mentioned area that are less than 12 years old. For that, he gives faith that he has seen the minor and the parents stamping and signing the corresponding forms and he checks that the documentation is ready to be sent in a special delivery to the Consulate in Edinburgh that will process the passports.

Antonio also can assist in certain circumstances with the NIE applications (Número de Identifidad Extranjero) for those British individuals that need a tax identification number for any official transaction in Spain.

The Honorary Consulate is located in the building of gunnercooke LLP law firm in Manchester.

As well as the Honorary Consul, Antonio is a dual qualified Spanish lawyer and English solicitor working for law firm gunnercooke LLP. Together with his usual Notary Public, Antonio can prepare powers of attorney and wills for Spain as well as advise on Anglo-Spanish matters.

For further information, please contact Antonio Guillen on 07872 808 598.

Patricia Roldan

Picture: Antonio Guillen and Patricia Roldan in a recent consular event.

Returning the keys back to the bank

morguefile com1 (2)A REAL CASE OF A SUCCESFUL DACION EN PAGO

This is a real case that we saw in the office some months ago. For obvious reasons, no names will be mentioned. The important thing is what happened and how the matter was resolved. Let me explain what happened.

 

In year 2006 two friends bought a property in Spain in the peak of the market for the amount of 200.000 €. In that year, the housing prices were high due to the excessive demand and banks granted mortgages like bakers bake muffins: one after the other.

Spanish banks were happy to lend monies because property prices were continuously rising like there was no tomorrow. These two friends got a mortgage for 180.000 € and therefore only had to put 20,000 € from their own money plus another 20,000 for taxes and fees. Total investment into the property was 40,000 € and the rest was brought by the bank.

Not much later the real estate bubble bursted in Spain. Consequently, the housing market declined, housing demand plummeted drastically, the value of the properties decreased and people were not able to pay their mortgages. Banks repossessed the houses and they sold them out in auction; therefore, there were more properties in the market and prices decreased more and more.

In 2014 the two friends realised they could not face the payments of the mortgage and they stopped paying regularly. They also contacted our firm for advice. We informed them that there is an option for people like themselves who are prepared to surrender the keys to the bank and be freed of the mortgage. It is called “dación en pago” and it involves signing a deed whereby the property and title are handed to the bank in exchange of the redemption of the debt. It is not a great solution as it usually involves writing off any investment and money put on the property but at least allows the clients to clear their bad investment in Spain and start from scratch in the UK with no debts. These clients were prepared to take this route and therefore instructed us to talk to the bank and start negotiations.

We contacted the bank, explained our clients’ situation and pushed for a dación en pago. The bank came back to us saying that the value of the property was lower than the mortgage. There was a 30,000 € shortfall and this shortfall had to be paid somehow. In layman terms, the property was now worth 160,000 € and they still owed the bank 190,000 €. The bank wanted to recover the 30,000 € shortfall and the solution offered was that the dacion en pago would be accepted provided that the clients signed a personal loan for the remaining 30,000 €. This option was not entirely satisfactory to the clients but they were prepared to sign the loan if the conditions were affordable.

A few weeks later and while we were in the process of waiting for the bank’s proposal, a debt collection agency was appointed to deal with this matter. The property was valued again and we took the opportunity that a new person was dealing with the file to explore the possibility of a full dacion en pago. We are not sure if it was pure luck or persistency (I have got the feeling that their valuation came higher than they initially thought and probably saw the potential of the property) but the debt collectors accepted the offer of a full dacion and suggested a date for the signing of the dacion. This was excellent news for the client as a full dacion consisted in handing the keys and the title to the bank in exchange of the clearance of the debt. Exactly what they wanted. The only requirement placed by the bank was that the property was transferred up to date of taxes and management fees. These were paid by the clients and we proceeded to sign the necessary deed of dacion en pago which freed the clients from this burden.

It was not the best outcome as this meant losing any investment put into the property but clients got rid of a massive debt that was affecting their finances. Furthermore, clients were aware that if they defaulted in the mortgage, the bank would repossess the property and eventually come after them in the UK for any shortfall due (and believe me there is always a shortfall). A slightly happy ending to a bad story. Obviously not all stories are like this and not all property owners want to get rid of their properties in Spain. Most prefer to keep them and enjoy them during their holidays. Others prefer to let them and wait until the market recovers. However, for those where the mortgage is a burden, there is always this possibility. It is not the panacea but it could allow a person who is struggling financially to clear some debts and start from scratch as a new person with no debts.

 

 

 

How to calculate the Inheritance tax in Spain for non-residents

Tulips Quite often I am asked how much is the tax payable on a Spanish estate. My first answer to that question is that the tax is not paid by the estate but is paid by each beneficiary on the basis of what he or she inherits. My second reply is that the Inheritance tax is calculated on a sliding scale where some coeficients are applied depending on the value of the asset inherited. It is therefore quite difficult to give a quick estimate without having the calculation rates next to me. Rather than using this post to talk about all the intricacies of Spanish Inheritance taxes, I think it would be useful to set up a case study with some imaginary names which would give the reader a taste of how the tax is calculated in Spain.  

Paul Herbert, British national, resident in Manchester dies in the UK on the 18th March 2012. He was divorced and had one daughter. He had assets in the UK and in Spain. There was a Spanish Will dealing with the Spanish assets and a Will dealing with the UK assets.

He left all his Spanish assets to his daughter, Isabel, who is 40 years old and lives in Birmingham. The funeral took place in the UK. The estate comprises a property in Marbella worth 295,000 euros and a bank account with 5,000 Euros. The property had no mortgage.

The house did not have any valuable assets, just the usual furniture for a house of this type.

The daughter is British and has never lived in Spain.

INHERITANCE TAX CALCULATION RATES (€)

 

Tax Base 
up to (€)

Tax liability
euros

Remaining Tax base up to
(€)

Applicable Rate

 

0.00

7,993.46

7.65

7,993.46

611.50

7,987.45

8.50

15,980.91

1,290.43

7,987.45

9.35

23,968.36

2,037.26

7,987.45

10.20

31,955.81

2,851.98

7,987.45

11.05

39,943.26

3,734.59

7,987.46

11.90

47,930.72

4,685.10

7,987.45

12.75

55,918.17

5,703.50

7,987.45

13.60

63,905.62

6,789.79

7,987.45

14.45

71,893.07

7,943.98

7,987.45

15.30

79,880.52

9,166.06

39,877.15

16.15

119,757.67

15,606.22

39,877.16

18.70

159,634.83

23,063.25

79,754.30

21.25

239,389.13

40,011.04

159,388.41

25.50

398,777.54

80,655.08

398,777.54

29.75

797,555.08

199,291.40

onwards

34.00

 

We know that the property was worth 295,000 Euro and that there was 5,000 Euro in the Spanish bank. The tax calculation would be as follows:

 

Real value

300,000

Chattels

9,000 (300,000 x 3%)

Gross Estate

309,000

Expenses  

0

Net Estate

309,000

Taxable Base

309,000

Allowances

Kinship (descendants)

15,956.87

Final taxable Base

293,043.13

Tax liability

 

Up to 239,389.13
Rest up to 293,043.13 (53,654) x 25.50%

Total

  40,011.04
                                                13,681.77

53,692.81

Multiplying rate

1.00 (She has no pre-existent estate in Spain and is the daughter of the deceased)

 

Inheritance tax

 

53,692.81

 How did we get this figure?

The real value is 300,000 € and this includes the value of the property (295,000 €) and the balance in the bank account (5,000 €). When there are no relevant chattels Spanish laws consider that the value of the chattels is 3% of the real value. That is why we have this amount of 9,000 € shown as chattels (300,000 € x 3%).

The funeral expenses were incurred in the UK and therefore cannot be deducted as an expense. We are then left with a Net Estate of 309,000 € which will be used as the Taxable base to which the necessary bases and percentages apply. But before applying any bases or percentages we need to apply the necessary allowance which will vary depending on the kinship. Children have an allowance of 15,956.87 € and therefore the final taxable base will be 293,043.13 € (Taxable base – Allowances).

It will then be a case of applying the tax base and percentages indicated in the table at the beginning of this document. This is done in two stages:

–       Up to 239,389.13 € the amount to pay will be 40,011.04 €.

–       The rest up to 293,043.13 € (in particular 53,654 €, which is the difference between 293,043.13 € and 239,389.13 €) will be calculated applying the appropriate percentage which is 25.50% leaving a second amount of 13,681.77 € to pay.

The tax liability will be the sum of both amounts (40,011.04 € + 13,681.77 €) = 53,692.81€.

Finally, a multiplying rate has to be applied depending on two factors: kinship and the value of the previous estate of the beneficiary in Spain. If the latter is less than 402,678.81 € then the multiplying rate will be 1 (which is the case of the daughter as she has no previous assets in Spain)

The Inheritance tax to be paid by Isabel will be the tax liability (53,692.81Euro) multiplied by the multiplying rate 1 = 53,692.81

Tax to pay is 53,692.81 €

The IHT paid in Spain can be offset in the UK to avoid double taxation.