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Property in Spain For Members

La Comunidad: What are my responsibilities if I own a property in a building in Spain?

The Local Spain
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La Comunidad: What are my responsibilities if I own a property in a building in Spain?
'La comunidad' is essentially like a homeowner's association among neighbours within a building. Photo: Sebastian Ruiz Diaz/Pixabay.

Being part of 'la comunidad' brings some duties and responsibilities in shared buildings in Spain, from attending meetings to paying your dues and much more.

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If you live in Spain, or at the very least have seen the classic Spanish TV sitcom "Aquí no hay quien viva", you might've heard of la comunidad (literally, 'the community') in shared apartment buildings.

If you haven't, la comunidad is essentially like a homeowner's association among neighbours within a building. You can read about them in much more detail through the link below.

READ ALSO: 'La comunidad': What property owners in Spain need to know about homeowners’ associations

You might also be wondering what sorts of responsibilities come with being in la comunidad and if you even need to be in it at all.

Generally speaking, each comunidad has its own set of individual rules and regulations, but Article 9 of Spain's Horizontal Property Law also establishes a series of common duties and responsibilities that members should try and uphold.

But before that, a few common questions on setting up a comunidad, if your building doesn't have one.

READ ALSO: Do I have to pay community fees if I rent in Spain?

Is setting up 'la comunidad' necessary?

When the owners of a newly constructed building move into a property, the same question always arises: do I have to join la comunidad, and is it necessary to set one up if there isn't?

As per the Horizontal Property Law, the short answer is that it is only compulsory in buildings with more than five owners, i.e. five separate apartments in the same complex, but many buildings with less do also have them.

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How do you set up la comunidad?

Check one doesn't already exist

In some cases, la comunidad may technically already exist. To find out, just go to the Land Registry and ask for information on your property and any pre-existing community statutes.

READ ALSO: What will happen to property prices in Spain in 2024?

Call a meeting

All the owners, as well as the developer in the case there are empty or unsold properties in the building, must attend a meeting. The structure and makeup of the community must appear on the agenda and be approved by all.

Keep meeting minutes

The minutes must contain the details of the meeting as well as the resolutions adopted during the meeting for future reference.

Formalise the meeting minutes book

The community must acquire a minutes book and register it with the land registry.

Apply for an NIF

The last step in setting up la comunidad is to apply for a tax number, known as an NIF. This is used, for example, so that suppliers can issue invoices to the building as opposed to an individual person.

What are the responsibilities?

So, what are your responsibilities as a member of la comunidad?

Respect and conserve common areas

Common areas are areas shared by the owners, such as courtyards, gardens, corridors, lifts and other similar spaces. It is essential that owners respect these common areas, and ensure that they are kept in good condition. Some communities hire a cleaner, while others may have a cleaning rota they share.

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Pay all fees and stay up to date with payments

It is compulsory for all members to be up to date with their shared payments. This is one of the main responsibilities, in order to be able to contribute to the general maintenance costs of the building.

Fees are divided into ordinary fees (such as electricity, water, lift, cleaning, among others) and extraordinary fees.

Extraordinary fees, known as derramas, are additional payments that the owners must make to meet unforeseen expenses. It is essential that all owners comply with their payment obligations in order to keep the comunidad financially stable, ie. running at a surplus in order to be able to afford emergency or essential repairs.

READ ALSO: How do the different types of property in Spain compare?

Assume the presidency

The comunidad presidency is appointed by a vote or drawing lots at the owners' meeting, or by a rotation of turns if people agree to it. If an owner is elected to this position, they have the responsibility to accept the position.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if the person has a justified cause like illness or disability, in which case they must inform the property manager.

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Overseeing entry to the building

Members of la comunidad also have a responsibility to allow, arrange, and oversee the access of builders, cleaners, and so on, onto the properties to carry out necessary repairs and maintenance in the common areas and in the building as a whole.

They must also arrange the entry of any experts or technicians who need to carry out periodic and compulsory checks, such as gas inspections or lift servicing checks.

Attending owners' meetings and voting on decisions that affect the community

Attending owners' meetings and voting on decisions that affect the community is another of the obligations, and for many the main one because it is a time commitment.

If you are unable to attend, you can give a proxy to another person to vote on your behalf. It is important to remember that failure to attend or to delegate the vote can be a serious offence on the part of the owner, which could lead to sanctions and fines added to your monthly quota.

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