Community fee dodgers with no excuse, rife on the Costa del Sol

Meeting of a community of owners.
Meeting of a community of owners. / SUR
  • Property administrators are calling for the law to be changed to combat the debt problem, which affects 40 per cent of communities in Malaga

Debts owed to communities of owners in the province have gone down for the third year running and now total 57.8 million euros, the lowest figure since 2012. The improvement in the economic situation has contributed to this reduction, but is not entirely responsible; not only do most families have more resources to pay the charges now, but more properties have also been sold, which means the vendor has normally had to pay any outstanding debts on their property before completion of the sale. Even so, in four out of ten communities of owners in the province, some members are not up-to-date with the payments, according to the latest study by the College of Property Administrators of Malaga.

With regard to the type of debtor, the banks still feature highly although their debt is continuing to fall and is now 19 per cent of the total, about 11 million euros. In this context, the greatest debtors are the voluntary, or professional type, in other words people who choose not to pay despite there being no logical justification for it. These account for 42 per cent, compared with the 23 per cent who don't pay because their financial situation means they can't afford to.

"There are professional debtors, and they are the ones who create conflict in the communities of owners," says the president of the College, Fernando Pastor.

There is another type of debtor as well: the owner who lives elsewhere (12 per cent), a profile which is especially prevalent on the Costa del Sol where owners who lived in other provinces or abroad have died and whose heirs are unknown. In fact, the College of Property Administrators has signed an agreement with a legal firm that specialises in searching for the heirs to empty properties.

With regard to second homes, it is interesting to note that 47 per cent of the money owed is for this type of property on the western Costa del Sol, while on the eastern side it is 24 per cent and in Malaga city, 22 per cent.

Additional tools

Fernando Pastor is calling for more legal instruments to facilitate the payments. The General Council of Colleges of Property Administrators of Spain has proposed that the Law of Horizontal Property be reformed to include, among other measures, surcharges above the legal interest rate on the money for the time an owner fails to pay, obliging purchasers of a property to pay any monies outstanding from the past four years and making purchasers demand a certificate from the vendor to prove that all debts with the community have been settled.