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

Brexit – will that stop a foreign Bank pursuing me in the UK 13.07.2017
This is a question that is becoming ever more relevant as thousands of individuals who have previously bought foreign property now find themselves unable – or unwilling – to meet the seemingly ever increasing costs associated with their overseas property; and are seeking a way out of their ownership obligations in foreign jurisdictions.

We presently represent hundreds of clients who, for one reason or another, are being pursued through foreign Courts for debts owed in that country. In Cyprus for example, we are one of the foremost legal firms who have clients who are being pursued by their Cypriot Bank due to non-payment of a Swiss Franc Mortgage previously taken out for the purchase of an immovable property in Cyprus.
 
For purchasers who had unilaterally decided simply to walk away from their property in Spain believing that “posting the keys through the letterbox” would be an end to the matter and their Spanish Bank would not pursue them for their unpaid mortgage debts, they have since found themselves being brought before the Spanish Courts.

Clients in Portugal who had taken a similar view, have also now found themselves as Defendants in Actions brought in Portugal by their Portuguese banks.

Most owners of overseas properties we speak with are acting under the belief that the foreign Banks will take their foreign properties and not pursue them as defaulters outside of the country where the property is situated. In time, and when these clients are duly “served” in the UK with the foreign Writs they have ignored the Service to them in the UK believing – wrongly - that the issue would end there.
  
Regrettably, we are now representing clients who, having ignored the original service of the Writs from foreign Court(s) and a Judgement in default has since been issued against them in the foreign court, and if the Bank is within the EU, the foreign Bank is now actively and aggressively seeking the Enforcement of the foreign Judgement in the UK against the UK assets of these clients.
 
This is done through a legal procedure via a European Enforcement Order (EEO).

Similarly, we are regularly contacted by individuals who are being chased for non-payment of their timeshare maintenance fees by their Timeshare Resort in Spain or via a UK Debt Collection agency employed by their Timeshare Resort in Spain.
 
Whatever the reason is for a client being pursued for a debt related issue in a foreign jurisdiction, the creditor – a bank, a timeshare resort, a developer - normally has to start litigation in the country where the debt exists and then seek to enforce any judgements they obtain in the courts in that jurisdiction in the UK.

This all leads on more than ever to a mistaken belief that now that the UK has voted to exit Europe in the referendum that their overseas creditors cannot pursue them. In fact we have spoken to people who purposely voted “out” in the referendum under the belief that this will stop any litigation against them or will stop any overseas judgements being able to be enforced in the UK.

Although the UK voted for Brexit in the referendum, at the moment nothing has changed. All the treaties for the enforcement of judgements within Europe are still in place and will continue in place until the UK formally come out of Europe.

The period of 2 years to put into place the exit strategy for the future will see the current provisions continue.

So, what happens after Brexit?

This is of course uncertain, however it is highly unlikely that even after Brexit and the UK comes out of Europe that alternative treaties will not be put into place for the enforcement of foreign judgements between the UK and other countries within Europe, meaning judgment debts will continue to be enforceable.
 
The UK is a country that conducts a lot of trade with other countries internationally, and in particular within Europe and there will need to be mechanisms for individuals and businesses to pursue outstanding payment from their creditors within Europe. This will inevitably mean that creditors within Europe can also pursue people who owe them money but who are based in the UK.

It may be that very simple mechanisms such as the European Enforcement Order (EEO) may not be directly re-introduced and therefore things may be a bit more difficult, but mechanisms for the recovery of debts due and the enforcement of judgements will be introduced at some level and therefore debtors will not be able to avoid obligations just because the UK is no longer within Europe.

If you are being chased by creditors in relation to an overseas debt and wish to speak to a specialist international solicitor about your options then you can contact us for a free initial confidential consultation.

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. Read more... Read more
Illegal build in Spain leads to prison 27.06.2017
The authorities in Spain have had issues with illegal planning permission over the years. For decades many people ignored the requirement to obtain planning permission and built properties anyway without planning permission – either extensions and swimming pools or even whole properties. Some people obtained planning permission but built more than they were allowed to – typically they built too many bedrooms or a property that was bigger in square area than they were allowed to. 
   
Over the years the authorities in Spain have been clamping down on illegal builds to try and bring a stop to this practice. The authorities have made examples of high profile individuals to try and discourage other people from carrying out such practices. The actor Antonio Banderas, for example, had issues with his beachfront holiday home in Malaga back in 2008. Antonio Banderas didn’t illegally build that property but the previous owner did.
 
Most of the time when there is illegal building the authorities have taken a very similar approach. The owners will receive a fine and may be ordered to pull down the illegal part of the building. However, a Court Decision that has just come out in the Court of Tarragona has just gone much further than we have previously seen in sending out a message to people not to build illegal properties in Spain.

The case centres around a property owned by business woman, journalist, TV presenter and pianist Mari Cruz Soriano who built an illegal property in El Perello in Tarragona. She actually obtained planning permission for the property but that planning permission only allowed her to rebuild and restore a property that already existed on the site. Instead she built a whole property on land which was categorised as “non urbanisable” and built a property that was bigger than the footprint of the property that had previously been on the land. The old property was completely demolished and the new property constructed.

What is interesting in this case is that the Court ordered a custodial sentence of 18 months on Mari Cruz Soriano for building an illegal property and also ordered the same penalty to the served by the ex-Mayor of El Perello who also acted as the builder of the property. This is a significant change in attitude by the authorities and is a massive message to anybody who is considering building a property illegally in Spain or who has already built an illegal property.
 
If you have a property in Spain that is completely or partially illegal and would like to know more about what options are available to you and whether it is possible to legalise you property then you can contact our specialist Spanish 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.
Read more... Read more
Mortgages on foreign property 16.06.2017
When buying a property overseas often a buyer will need to take out a mortgage to help them fund the purchase, just like they do when buying a property in the UK. What is different when buying a property abroad is that there can be several different options available to you;

1. Mortgage abroad

The most obvious option is to take out a mortgage in the country that you are buying in. You buy a property in Spain and take out a Spanish Mortgage, if you buy a property in Portugal you take out a Portuguese mortgage and so on. This has several advantages;

a. It keeps things very simple and reflects what is actually happening.

b. The mortgage is registered against the property that you are buying. This means that the value of the property is in the same currency as you are paying back. Interest rates are also linked to the economy that you have your property in and therefore as everything is in one economy you are less likely to have things go completely adrift in terms of value of the property, interest rates and so on (unless, of course, there is a collapse in the economy).

c. You are keeping any mortgages used to buy property overseas away from your main home in the UK
 
Of course if your income is in Sterling and the mortgage payments are in Euros then you will need to not only make sure that there is enough money in your Spanish Bank account to pay for the mortgage every month but also to have in mind you may also be affected by changes in the Currency Exchange rates.

However, the good thing is that you can minimise Currency Fluctuations by using Currency Dealers who can fix the exchange rate for a whole year so at least you know how much your mortgage will cost in terms of the exchange rate. You can read about Currency dealers.
 
2. A UK mortgage

This doesn’t mean that you can walk into your High Street bank in the UK and, for example, take out a mortgage to buy a property in Spain. We are not aware of any British Banks that will lend against a foreign property. What actually happens is that you release equity from your UK home to give you the money to buy the property abroad.

The advantage of doing this is that the mortgage payments are in the same currency as you earn, meaning that there are no exchange rate losses when it comes to paying the mortgage. However, even in this scenario there can be several disadvantages;

a. This means that the property overseas is free of mortgages but it does mean that your main home in the UK is more exposed if you can’t pay the mortgage.

b. The amount that you borrowed is not linked to the value of the house you bought (i.e. the property abroad) and therefore the two things are much likely to get out of sync in terms of amount left to pay on the mortgage, property value, interest rates and so on.

3. A mortgage in a third currency

This particular option was prevalent in places such as Cyprus over recent years. Originally when a British person purchased a property in Cyprus they were often encouraged to take out a loan in Japanese Yen because of the exchange rate and interest rates. When the Japanese Yen stopped being so attractive the banks switched their attention to Swiss Francs.
The big problem with taking out a mortgage in a different currency is that it is very easy for the interaction between the three currencies to go wrong and to leave you in a financial minefield.
You will have three sets of currencies where exchange rates can vary. You will have three sets of economies to rely on and of course the more countries and currencies involved the more likely that something adverse will happen to one of them; which will affect how much you have to pay back.
Taking out a Japanese Yen or Swiss Franc Mortgage to buy a property in Cyprus always had the capacity to create a problem with so many variants outside of the borrower’s control.
Many people who took out a Swiss Franc Mortgage to buy property in Cyprus now find themselves in the financial position of owing much more to the bank for their mortgage than they did when they first bought the property; and all of this despite having been paying back the mortgage for years.
If you have a Swiss Franc Mortgage for a property in Cyprus you can down load our Swiss Franc Mortgages Brochure.

4. Take over developers mortgage

In some countries it is possible to take over a mortgage that is already on the property. This is most common when buying a property direct from a developer (i.e. an off plan property). The developer will often have a mortgage on the property which allows him to fund the construction.
When the property is finished the buyer will take over (subrogate) the mortgage from the developer with the authority of the bank. Basically the buyer will step into the shoes of the developer as far as the instalments related to the mortgage are concerned.

This is a very convenient way of proceeding – after all, the mortgage is already registered against the property and you simply take it over. However, the mortgage that the developer takes out for a short period of time of a couple of years may be very different from the sort of mortgage that you would want long term.

The terms and conditions associated with the mortgage may therefore not be suitable for you. It is, of course, also important to make sure that the mortgage has been properly segregated as often the mortgage is over the whole plot and you don’t want to end up being responsible for the whole mortgage for all the properties.

If you would like to know more about the mortgages for purchasing a property abroad then you can contact our legal team. Please note that we are solicitors and not mortgage brokers. We cannot therefore advise you as to the best mortgage to take but can put you in contact with reputable specialist international mortgage brokers who can assist you with obtaining your mortgage. We do not receive any commission for putting you in contact with the mortgage broker and do so simply because they have given good service in the past.

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.
Read more... Read more