Communities and the Role of the President Part 1
Communities and the Role of the President
What is a community?
Most but not all people buying a home in Spain will automatically become a member of a community. They will be expected to contribute financially to the community in line with their share or “coefficient”. This share is written into the title deeds “Escritura” of the purchased property and is not changeable except in rare circumstances (subdivision etc.). The coefficient is calculated when the community is completed and, as a rule of thumb, is roughly proportional to the size of your apartment or house in relation to the overall size of the community.
That is why when people increase the area of their houses that it has to be approved by the Community because it affects the coefficients or shares.
What you actually pay will be your share of any expenditure agreed at an Annual General Meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Community. It is your responsibility to be aware of these charges and to pay them.
Paying your community charges on time is important as otherwise the community is likely to deteriorate as cleaners and gardeners need paying. The community now has the ability to (through court action of course) freeze your bank account and seize the apartment. Of course, this is always a last resort and time consuming but the community always wins and the costs are charged to the delinquent owner. The community can also apply penal charges to late payments and owners in debt have no voting rights at a meeting.
A word of warning here. Before you sign at the notary always make sure that your solicitor has obtained a certificate from the community showing any debt on the property. If he/she hasn’t then sorry, any debt becomes yours. Obviously, this also applies to any outstanding mortgages on the property but this is not a community issue and your solicitor SHOULD check everything. In Spain, the debt is on the property, not the individual.
Buying a property is a massive investment and commitment. It really is worth talking to the President or the Administrator before you buy. The community may look well cared for but it could be in debt (a debt in which you will participate if you buy) your solicitor is unlikely to check this and certainly, your estate agent won’t.
* If a charge, even if voted for by a majority, is classed as an improvement and your individual cost exceeds 3 months community charge then you do not have to pay, however, you can not participate in the improvement.
Essentially the charges are to cover the general costs of maintaining the communal elements (gardens, swimming pools etc) of which you have full use. You will not be required to pay for things you would not use (for example, lift maintenance if you live on the ground floor) however it is not your decision. It will be written in the community rules. Generally, the President or Administrator will be pleased to give you a copy before you buy.
Who decides what we pay and who we employ?
Basically you do. Never ever say “They” have done this or that because anything important or costly (except legal necessities) is voted for at an A.G.M. or E.G.M. and you have the same rights as all the other owners. Ensure that your voice is heard either by attending the meeting or appointing a proxy to vote on your behalf. You have the right to put forward any proposals or reject any proposals or budgets.
But someone has to do the day to day stuff. The President is in charge of the community and has total authority as your representative. He/she is ultimately responsible in law for the actions of the community and represents the community in all legal aspects. He/she is a signatory, together with the administrator for cheques and bank payments. The role of President is mandatory. If no one volunteers then a simple drawing of lots takes place and the winner (loser!) is President. He/
If no one volunteers then a simple drawing of lots takes place. He/she must apply to the court to be relieved of the office and, as any legal action takes forever here, there is no point as the office is for one year. Obviously, any person who does not wish to be President will not function correctly and in such a case will probably leave all the work to the Administrator. The Administrator is again a legal requirement but unless the community is very small then the Administrator will be an employed professional with the necessary software, staff and experience to support and advise the President but it is the President who makes the decisions.
At the A.G.M. the President will present the actual expenditure for the prior year and the budget for the coming year. These must be approved by the meeting. Generally, sufficient information on expenditure is sent with the meeting invitation. The approval of the expenditure and budget together with the election (re-election) of the President and Administrator plus agreement of the previous year’s minutes are mandatory agenda items. Proposals from owners are other agenda items but to be voted on must be mentioned in the posted agenda. Discussion on “Any other business” can be held and if the meeting agrees the President will call a future E.G.M. to vote on the issue.
This may all seem fairly complex but in fact, the laws relating to how a community must be governed are straight forward.