Property Disputes

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice for property problems abroad
We provide a comprehensive service that will cover every aspect of your case, from initial consultation through to conclusion - and appeal should that prove necessary.
 

Conveyancing

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice about buying a property in Spain, France and Portugal
One of the most common misconceptions people tend to have when buying a property abroad is a belief that things will follow a similar path as buying a property at home.

Mortgage Problems

Overseas property lawyers based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Whatever the circumstances many people now find that they are struggling to pay their mortgages on a month to month basis and may even be in arrears.
 

Foreign Wills 

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
By making a foreign Will you can ensure that the right people inherit from you and do so in the most tax advantageous way.  If you don’t leave a foreign Will then the law sets out who inherits from you

Timeshare

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Timeshare is concept that has been around for many decades. The principle is quite simple – instead of buying a whole property abroad you simply buy a share in that property 

Other Services

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Under our Legal Services, you can find further information about our other services. These include timeshare, wills, inheritance, starting a business abroad and obtaining a visa

Latest News

Rural property in Spain 11.04.2017

During the boom times of property sales in Spain the vast majority of people purchasing properties did so “off-plan”. They were persuaded by glossy brochures and liked the thought of being the first owners and deciding the specifications to their property.

When the recession hit many developers went bust and a great many of those people buying have since encountered problems. However, as the market has changed, more and more people are now looking at resale properties. Equally, as more people are now buying for lifestyle rather than for pure investment purposes the attraction of more rural properties has returned, especially as there are some great bargains to be had a bit further inland and away from the coast al areas.

 
Buying rural property in Spain however has of course a different set of issues that come with it. That is not to say that buying a rural property is any more dangerous than buying a new property, it is just that what you are concerned about is going to be different and you will have different priorities to worry about from a legal point of view.
    

Problems with title

The first potential problem with buying a rural property is that the formalities that lead to the legal ownership by the seller may not have been done correctly. Often in rural areas things are not done correctly as a way of saving cost. For example, a previous sale has never legally been formalised because everybody will know who has bought it and what taxes may be due. A newer property may have undergone an extension which is never registered and may not have the correct planning permissions.
These types of issues can cause a problem when it comes to buying the property and then of course registering everything correctly. Having said that, in most cases these issues can be resolved. It may take more time for the legal transaction to go through whilst these issues are resolved but it is rare for a legal matter not to be able to be remedied.

Boundary problems

Sometimes problems occur when the boundaries of properties in rural areas of Spain are not particularly well defined. The square area that is registered at the Land Registry can be very different from the square area that is registered at the Catastral Registry - which in turn can be different from the actual square area.
We have dealt with many transactions where even the seller isn’t sure about the boundaries of their property as things may have changed over the years and everything has previously been very loose and relaxed. In other cases plots have been subdivided and not registered.
It is obviously important to make sure that the reality of the property is reflected in what is registered at both the Land Registry and the Catastral Regsitry but again this is the sort of problem that can be easily be resolved even if it can take a while.

Outbuildings

Occasionally, there may also be outbuildings on the land that have been built without planning permission and which have never been registered. Typically these are storage areas or garages. Again, it may be possible to register these at the land registry prior to your purchase.

Rights of way

On Rural Properties there is more of a chance that there is a historical Right of Way over the property – whether this is registered or not. There may also be a Right over the property such as the right to collect water, the right to collect fruit or the right to collect wood. Over the years these rights may have accumulated and it is important to identify what rights are on the property prior to purchase.

Obviously in addition to the above all the usual checks should be carried out on the property to make sure that the sellers duly own the property and that there are no existing charges or mortgages on the property. It is also important to understand what obligations you have after you have bought the property such as taxes.
None of this should put people off buying rural property – after all there are some great bargains out there at the moment and most of the issues are easily identifiable and resolvable. The important thing is to get independent legal advice to assist you with the purchase and if there are any issues to work with the seller to resolve them.

If you are buying a rural property in Spain and need a solicitor to help you with the conveyancing you can contact a UK based solicitor in our international property team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 

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The dangers of timeshare forums 16.03.2017
Timeshare can be a murky industry and very often things aren’t what they initially seem. And there is no better example of that than Timeshare Forums and internet sites. There are various forums out there where people can discuss their timeshare ownership along with other more general timeshare issues. Most of these forums provide various opinions and advice on how to cancel a timeshare or advice on how get out of having to pay the annual maintenance fees timeshare resorts typically charge.

There are numerous problems however associated with the nature of such advice and more broadly with the timeshare forums and websites themselves.

Who is behind the forum or website?

One of the big problems with Timeshare forums and websites offering assistance to owners is that you don’t actually know who is behind the website and what their agenda is. We are aware of some forums which are run by companies involved in the timeshare industry and who use the forums as a way of either legitimising their own business or, more commonly, to discredit their competitors.

Often you will see forums where people complain again and again about certain timeshare resorts yet others are never mentioned. This isn’t to say that that resort or company is not a scam or doesn’t have any issues, and may simply be that the people behind that forum have removed or edited any comments about the resort or company that they want to protect.

Sometimes a forum will extoll the virtues of a particular company and many people will talk about how great that company is. The question to ask yourself is – who is behind the forum and how do you know that these posts are genuine? Could those posts be fake?

Don’t forget also that forums and websites can change ownership. A website or forum that is genuine and legitimate can, through a series of events, end up in the hands of a potentially unscrupulous company who will use the historical goodwill of that website to encourage people to continue to use their services. Or particular individuals from previous websites will set up sister companies to direct potential new clients towards them.

This has regrettably happened recently with one of the most prominent of websites which previously offered totally independent, open and informed Timeshare advice.
 
Who is that person giving advice?

We see a lot of very poor advice given on timeshare forums. There is some good advice given but much of the advice given is by people posting under a pseudonym. So who are they and what is their background? What are their legal qualifications and how much do they know about the legalities of timeshare? If the advice turns out to be incorrect are they going to take responsibility for any damage caused as a result? Do they have an agenda or an axe to grind? Many armchair lawyers are simply passing on information that they genuinely believe is correct but is factually and legally incorrect. Of course, the more this misinformation is mentioned the more gravitas it appears to have and therefore the more people believe it.

Do they have the full facts?

Even if the forum or website is genuine and the people on the forum are also genuine there is still a real danger in taking advice at face value. By their very nature forums aren’t the place to go into huge detail about your particular circumstances or to discuss the specific documentation associated with your timeshare ownership. Therefore any advice given will only be based on what you have said on that forum rather than the full facts. Giving legal advice on the basis of partial facts is dangerous, particularly when it comes to timeshare.
 
Summary

It is vital that if you are going to be taking advice from a timeshare website or forum that;
 
  1. You know who is behind the forum or website. A quick Google may provide this information. Alternatively there are various websites that you can visit to find out who the registered owner is.
     
    If it proves to be difficult to find out who is actually behind the website or forum treat it with extreme caution
     
  2. Be careful about taking advice from anonymous people on forums;
    1. Are they legally trained?
    2. Are they responsible for the legal advice that they give if it turns out to be incorrect?
    3. Can you contact them?
    4. Do they have an agenda?
    5. Are they real or are they operating under a fake name?
       
  3. To remove any risks or uncertainty, always look to instruct a regulated Law firm with experienced timeshare solicitors to deal with your case.
 
If you have a problem with timeshare in Spain or Portugal and would like to speak to a UK based solicitor who has been dealing with timeshare for over 20 years then you can contact our timeshare legal team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 
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Spanish NIE's 21.02.2017
At some stage when you buy a property in Spain you will need to obtain an NIE.

NIE stands for “Numero de Identidad Extranjero”, which translates as “Foreigners Identification Number”.

The NIE is a cross between an Identification Number and a Tax Number in Spain. You will need your NIE number each time you come in contact with the authorities in Spain; primarily the tax authorities. You will also need it to open a Spanish bank account or to buy a car.

When it comes to buying a property in Spain however there is some confusion when it comes to NIEs, which we hope we can clarify.
 
We often hear clients tell us they have been told that they need an NIE number in order to buy a property in Spain, and that they also need an NIE in order to sign a purchase contract to buy that property in Spain. Neither of these is technically correct.
 
It is possible to not only sign a purchase contract to buy a property in Spain but also to sign a Spanish Title Deed and complete on the property without an NIE. You do, however, need an NIE in order to pay the taxes associated with a purchase of a property in Spain and as a buyer you will want to do this as soon as possible because you can’t register the property in your name unless you pay the taxes.

Therefore, although technically you don’t need the NIE for when you sign the title deed, in practical terms it makes very good sense to do so. In fact some Notaries will refuse to sign a title deed without the buyer having an NIE or may require the buyer to sign a supplemental document once they have obtained their NIE. 



There are three different ways of obtaining an NIE.

1. The Spanish Consulate way

The first way of obtaining your NIE is to do this yourself via the Spanish Consulate. Details of how to apply for this are available through the Spanish Consulate

Unfortunately the Spanish Consulate doesn’t seem to provide a translation to the form or instructions on how to fill this in. We have therefore produced one of these which can be seen at Judicare

The Spanish Consulate can be a bit slow in issuing NIEs and it is not uncommon for them to take a month and a half to issue these. This is because they simply collect the paperwork and then send these to a central point in Madrid who issue them and then return them to the Spanish Consulate.

2. Applying yourself in Spain

We often encourage people to obtain their NIEs themselves. This is because this is a nice gentle introduction to Spanish bureaucracy, which can be rather frustrating at times.

You apply for your NIE number at the local immigration office (oficina de extranjeros) which is normally found in the local police station (comisaria de policía). The way that you apply for your NIE in person varies between the different areas of Spain. In fact they can vary from one Police Station to another. Sometimes it is necessary to book an appointment but other times it is not. Sometimes you can get the NIE issued immediately and other times you may have to come back another day (sometimes a couple of days later and sometimes a couple of weeks). Sometimes you can queue in one line only to be told that you should be in a different line. It can be frustrating but will break you in for a life of dealing with the Spanish authorities.

You will need;

  • 2 Copies of the application form that you can download above
  • Proof of the reason why you are obtaining an NIE. If you are buying a property in Spain then a copy of the purchase contract is normally sufficient
  • Your passport and a copy of the page which has your photo, name, passport number etc. on it
  • Payment (normally €10)

3. Granting a Power of Attorney for somebody to apply for this on your behalf in Spain.

If you are granting somebody a Power of Attorney then it doesn’t take much more to include within that Power of Attorney the ability to obtain your NIE for you. In order to this they will need, in addition to the Power of Attorney itself, certified copies of your passports. You will need to get these certified by a Notary (you can find your local one at http://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk/) and then it needs to be sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for legalisation. You can read about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Legalisation. Please note that some Police stations are being difficult with Passport Copies and therefore whilst it is tempting to try and save money by getting the Passport Copies certified as one document or even as part of the Power of Attorney it is best to do these as individual documents to the extent that each passport is certified and legalised separately. This will cost more but will mean that there is less chance of this being rejected by the authorities in Spain.

NIE numbers are issued provisionally for 3 months but we have now seen that the Spanish authorities have started issuing NIEs without an expiry date.

If you are buying a property in Spain and would like to speak to an experienced UK based solicitor about your purchase then you can contact one of our Spanish property team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 

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