We received an email this week from a gentleman needing some advice:-
“I was left a half share in a Spanish property by my father. The other half went to his wife, my stepmother. She has the usufruct and will not allow myself or any of my family near the property. Can we challenge this in any way? She has a lifetime usufruct.”
What is an usufruct? It is a historic term from Roman times, which gives a legal right to use and derive income or benefit from property, of which the ownership belongs to someone else.
While the person has the usufruct they can have posssession of a property, but they cannot sell the property.
Thus we said to the person enquiring:- I am sorry but this is not something that can really be challenged. I understand how frustrating this must be, but in Spain it is quite common this practice. The usufruct gives her the legal right of possession of the property until she dies, even though half of the ownership belongs to you.
It does not matter if she is living there full time or not. You cannot enter without her agreement.
However, she cannot sell it though without you being aware, that would not be possible.