Unpaid bills on Spanish property

If you are buying a Spanish property then you must be careful to avoid becoming responsible for any unpaid bills remaining on the property you intend purchasing – a good example being IBI (the Council Tax that every owner has to pay every year).

This week a client came to see me because the Town Hall had sent him a letter requesting him to pay the IBI on his property – because this had not been paid by the bankrupt developer from whom he had bought the property.  There are a huge number of owners who are in the same situation, given the number of developers who have gone bankrupt during the financial crisis. This was the case with several property owners who bought apartments in Pego, for example.

If you buy a property from a tax resident (either individual or a company), in principle you are only responsible for the payment of any unpaid IBI if the tax office can justify that the person/company responsible for the payment is bankrupt. In this case, you have to pay only the tax itself and not the accrued interest and penalties for not paying the tax on time.

However, If you buy a property from a non-tax resident and the tax has not been paid then you will be responsible for paying all the tax due– irrespective of whether the individual or the company is bankrupt.

Obviously, this is totally unfair – but it is the law!

How can you avoid having to pay unpaid bills on Spanish property?

Well, you or your lawyer should obtain written copies showing that the last four of  IBI have been paid.

Carolina Just

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