Legal advice for buying property in Tenerife
It is strongly recommended that you choose an independent lawyer who is specialised in Spanish land law (urbanismo). Independent means that they work on your behalf only and are not also looking after the interests of the agent or developer. You should ensure that those involved in the transaction are qualified and experienced in Spain.
Exercise extreme caution if an estate agent, promoter or lawyer urges you to cut corners to save money or time. A Spanish notary public will be involved in preparing the contract of sale and issuing the public deeds. As the purchaser, you have the right to choose which notary you use. The notary is a public servant who has a duty to provide you with free and impartial legal advice on all aspects of the contract before you sign. It is a good idea to seek advice from the notary early on. When a date is set for signing the contract, you have three days beforehand to visit the notary and ask any questions you may have about any aspect of the contract.
Purchaser’s checklist for buying property in Tenerife
Before you complete your property purchase you should make sure that:
you have seen the Land Registry extract (Nota Simple), available from the Colegio de Registradores (translations into English for an additional fee), and checked the following details the property and land for sale match the details registered and the sellers are the registered owner(s) there are no debts or charges, such as a mortgage, on the property there are no legal proceedings initiated against the property for contravention of land planning law you have checked that planning permissions are in order and the property is a legal build. This is particularly relevant when buying off-plan or direct from a developer. The town hall can inform you whether the building has all licences and permissions and provide details of the type of land. If the property is built on rural land or land that is not classified for construction, additional confirmation should be sought from the regional government as to whether they have authorised the construction if you are buying an off-plan property, confirm that the property has been certified as finished by a registered architect and registered as a new build in the property register.
The registration should also provide details of the developer’s insurance against structural and other defects in the construction. In the case of a private build (the previous owner built their own house and decided to sell before ten years had lapsed) you will need to request these details separately you have checked the latest town plan to see whether or not the plot you wish to buy has any building restrictions, is in a green zone or includes a public pathway or similar. This can be viewed at to the town planning (urbanismo) department of the local town hall you have carried out a property survey. Whilst this is not obligatory, it is wise to get a chartered surveyor to check the property
You know the cadastral value of the property and how much purchase tax will be due. Be aware that tax is charged on the council’s valuation of the property as opposed to the amount of the sale. You can check this at the regional government’s online tax agency site using the cadastal reference number.
Make sure you have seen the following documents:
a paid-up receipt for the previous owner’s annual property tax (IBI). It is also wise to get a certificate from the town hall proving that there are no unpaid rates from previous years the Catastral certificate giving the exact boundaries and square metres of your land. The Cadastral record will be linked to the Land Register record by a cadastral reference which will be included in both. You should ensure that the property and land description contained in both records matches
the licence of first occupancy or habitation certificate issued by the town hall. You will need this document to connect to electricity and water companies. Developers cannot force you to complete without this licence.
receipt to prove all utility bills have been paid by the previous owner
if applicable, a certificate signed by the President of the Community of Property Owners stating that there are no outstanding debts. You should be aware that if you later find that there are such debts outstanding, as the new owner, you assume the debts for the current and previous year (two years in total)
as from 1st June 2013, all homes for sale or to let in Spain are required by law to have an energy efficiency certificate. If you are considering buying a property, the seller is obliged to show you this certificate. On completion, the public deed should reflect an accurate description of the property. It is advisable that you register the property in your name with the Land Registry as soon as possible to ensure full protection of your rights. The notary can even send advance notification to the Land Registry electronically once the public deed is signed.