euros_1693423bCatalonia has established the obligation to register residential units that are vacant, or occupied without a legal title.

  • Holders of properties that are vacant, or occupied without a legal title, were acquired through foreclosure proceedings, or by offsetting or paying mortgage-backed debt, must register these properties at the Empty Flat Registry, submitting information on ownership, location, surface area, and on whether the property has a certificate of habitability (First Occupation Licence).
  • And here’s the money part – This measure aims to reveal the exact number of empty properties in Catalonia and to reinforce the application of the unoccupied flat tax and the imposition of municipal fines.
  • Where the registered property is to be sold on, a right of first purchase has been created for the local administration in areas of proven high demand. The owner has to notify a special housing Agency who have 2 months to decide whether to acquire the property or not.
  • Where a property is registered and the Agency decides that work is required to bring the property up to an acceptable level, the owner has 6 months to do so or the Agency will do the work, fine the owner and register the debt (no doubt plus interest) against the property so that it has to be paid before sale.

The same Parliament is also debating

  • A vacant housing tax law, which will apply if properties have been unreasonably unoccupied for more than 2 years.
  • If the properties are then allocated for social housing leasing, the tax payer will benefit from a discount.

What happens in Catalonia tends to spread to other Regions of Spain – especially if it’s got potential for income!

  • The Basque Country has given a right of first refusal to ‘the administration’ over similar properties, within 30 days of the owners notifying them of their intention to sell.
  • The local administration has been given the right to compulsory purchase
    • properties not up to the housing standards where remedial works are not carried out;
    • properties abandoned or ruined,
    • properties unoccupied for 2 years in areas of high demand.
  • They also have to right, if a property has been empty for more than 2 years, to tax at 10€ euro per sq m and oblige the owner to lease the property in areas of high demand.

This could spread to the Costa areas too, so if you are an investor, make sure that somebody uses that property at least every 2 years and that it is kept in good condition!

Thanks to Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira for this information.