Do I need a lawyer in Spain?

Do I need a lawyer in Spain

You don’t have to use a lawyer when buying a Spanish property, but it certainly helps. In fact it is very strongly recommended that you do so to give you peace of mind, avoid a host of potential issues and save you time and hassle.

Completion of the conveyancing process is conducted before a notario (notary) and you cannot buy a property without using one. Your lawyer will typically designate where completion takes place.

But the key thing to note that the notary is a state administrator and does not act on behalf of the purchaser nor the seller, and they don’t give you advice.  An independent solicitor in Spain can act on your behalf and protect your interests during the sale and the purchase – including giving you advice on negotiating the price. Make sure you are clear from the start what this legal advice will cost you!

What are the key things that a solicitor in Spain should do for you?

Understanding the process

First up, an English-speaking lawyer should help you fully understand the process and ensure anything that needs to be translated into English is done so. But bear in mind the lawyer should specialise in conveyancing and have local knowledge of the Spanish area where you are buying – they should not be based in the UK.

Due diligence and documents

Lawyer in spain

Your lawyer knows which questions to ask the vendor based on their experience of potential problems. If the right questions are not asked, you cannot blame a vendor for not voluntarily revealing them.

The lawyer should check the nota simple document that includes the property details, that licences are in place for any renovation/works to the property, and that the owner of the property is the person you think it is. Along with checking there’s a Licence of First Occupation they need to check that the whole property registered with the Land Registry – and the local town hall? What is its taxable value? Are there any debts or charges registered on the property?

Local searches

What is the legal boundary of the property and what has been planned in the nearby area that might impact your life in the property? Is there a new property development planned next door? Are there any environmental issues to be aware of – flood risk?

In terms of planning, will you be allowed to build the swimming pool or extend the property as you hope do so?

Rental rights

There are unfortunately too many tales of people buying a Spanish property without realising that they are not permitted to rent it out for holiday lets. If this is important for you, double check that your lawyer knows this, and checks egional and local community laws. Sometimes properties are sold with a rental licence.

 New builds

When buying off plan you need to be especially careful to whom you are paying money over to. Your developer needs to do due diligence on the developer and the building permissions, and your rights if the property is late/not as promised/not completed.

Fighting your corner

If there are any problems that occur during the sale, you will need someone to fight your corner. If you don’t know the legal process nor speak the language, you will be at an immediate disadvantage. This is something that has been exploited in the past by unscrupulous sales agents or developers.

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Power of attorney

Your solicitor can deal with aspects of the sale without you physically being present – a definite advantage when you don’t like in Spain or are prevented from travelling for any reason. Your lawyer can help you get an NIE number, set up a bank account and organise for the transfer of utilities in your new home.

Find a spanish lawyyer

Liz Rowlinson