Having bought a property in Spain, you then find your financial circumstances have changed over the years. For whatever reason you can’t afford the community fees or mortgage. This unfortunately could be due to separation or divorce from your partner, loss of job etc. It may be as you got older you don’t feel you can use the property as you once did.

You can’t just walk away and leave the property empty.

You may have heard the thing to do is to hand in your keys. Even if there is somewhere to hand in your keys this is not the sensible thing to do.

Just as in the UK you can’t walk away from the property if you owe money on it; the situation is no different just because it is in another country. Your property and mortgage documents are almost certainly going to say that, in the case of dispute, the jurisdiction which applies will be the Spanish Courts.

Increasingly banks are pursuing through the courts to recoup at least some of the money they are owed. Properties have been repossessed where monies have not been paid. This you may feel will solve the problem. It will not!!  The property will be put up for auction and will probably be sold for a lot less than its true value and you will still be liable for any outstanding amounts that have not been cleared by the selling price. You may think this will be the end of the matter. NO : Increasingly lawyers are being employed to track down people in this country who have not complied with their financial agreements.

The sensible thing to do both financially and for peace of mind is to use a third party who understands the Spanish property market and the laws that govern it. You need someone who will work on your behalf with the developer and/or bank to come to an agreement which suits all parties. This will usually be on a fee-paid basis but could save you a lot of money in the long-term.

Remember “They all speak English” isn’t the case. Many banks, their representatives and the courts do not necessarily speak English (just as over here not everyone speaks Spanish!!). Often, situations like these are transferred to Regional Bank Units which are in the provinces, usually areas which do not normally handle foreign clients and which in everyday circumstances would have no need to speak or write English.

Quite rightly they will say you need to negotiate in Spanish. So you will need to employ a translator particularly if you are served court papers. A word of caution here, trying to get a translation by using an on-line translation comes with its own complications and may not give a true meaning of what is being said!
Therefore, utilising a company which speaks fluent Spanish and is experienced in negotiating for you in such circumstances is really what you need.  

Remember burying your head in the sand will not make the problem go away, you are still legally responsible for your property and any outstanding amounts owed on that property.

Keith Pintointernational

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