I have been served in UK with a claim coming from a Spanish Court, where the co-owner (50/50) of my Spanish House is claiming against me, trying to force the sale of the property we jointly owned in Spain. I was not aware about his intentions, what I should do?
Thank you for your enquiry.
First of all, we must confirm you that without seeing the claim and documents served to you, we cannot give you any legal advice.
In any case, for your information, we can confirm generally that:
.- Probably an Ordinary Court Case has been filed against you, so as per the Spanish Civil Jurisdiction Law (LEC), you have 20 working days to answer to the claim.
.-Probably the legal action started against you, it is what we called: action for the division of the common ownership or property.
Legally as per the articles 400 and following ones of the Spanish Civil Code, no co-owner can be forced to remain in co-ownership, therefore, any owner of a property can claim for the co-ownership to be finished.
If the property can be divided, in your case in 2 parts, each party should get its part of the property. Unfortunately, normally the urban planning does not allow the property to be divided 50/50 and create 2 new properties from the existing one, if that is your case, the only solution it is for one of the parties to buy the other out, or the sale of the property normally through the court, and slipt the proceeds of it.
.-Possible answer to the claim: If the property due to the planning, or any other reason cannot be divided, and bearing in mind that the Spanish Civil Code allows the other party to finish the co-ownership at any time, possibly the only good option for you, it would be to agree with the claim to finish the court case, and try to come into in agreement or sell the property.
.-Legal Costs: the main risk of these kinds of claims, is the legal costs, as normally the claims are valued according with the value of the property jointly owned, so the legal costs could be really high. In your case, it is essential even if you agree with the claim, to try , as per the article 395 of the LEC, for the court to rule that you should not pay the legal costs of the claimant, as you were not aware about his intention to stop the co-ownership, and you have not been formally requested about this.
.-Other Costs: If you have paid yourself some of the property costs like local taxes (IBI), garbage collections, etc., you can claim the other party to pay you back 50% of these expenses.
It is really important in these kinds of disputes, as soon as the problems start, to send a formal request to the other party and if it is not possible to reach an agreement to claim first, in order to avoid the risk of being asked by the court to pay the legal fees of the claimant. If you have any problem with the other owners of your property, contact us and we will help.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
Spanish Law firm solicitor attorney barrister.
Alicante, Denia, Costa Blanca Marina Alta
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