SOMETIMES, following the purchase of a property, the new owner discovers the existence of defects, which on many occasions could not have been seen prior to completion because they were hidden problems which decrease the value of the property or make it less suitable to live in.
Examples of potential hidden problems include dampness, poorly constructed areas, improper electrical or plumbing installations, termites, drainage not working properly, leaks in pipes, etc.
For these hidden defects (also known in Spanish law as hidden vices), the seller’s legal position, as long as these problems were not in sight (as it would be understood that the buyer accepted and bought them knowingly), is based on article 1484 of the Spanish civil code (Cc), which states:
The seller shall be obliged to provide a warranty for hidden defects of the things sold, if they render it unsuitable for the use to which it is destined, or if they reduce such use in such a way that, if the purchaser had known them, he would not have acquired it or would have given a lower price for it; but he shall not be liable for manifest defects or those which are in plain sight, nor for those which are not, if the purchaser is an expert who, as a result of his trade or profession, ought easily to have been aware of them
It must however be understood, that according to article 1490 Cc, any action to claim for these hidden defects can only be made during a period of six months following the handing over of the property. In addition, according to Spanish law, this period of six months is considered an expiration period of CADUCITY, which is very important, because although a formal requirement may be sent to the seller, the period of six months may not be interrupted.
That it is a CADUCITY expiration period has been repeatedly declared by the Spanish Supreme Court itself, for example in its ruling, 478/2010, stated:
“Article 1490 of the Civil Code, as noted, provides that legal actions for hidden defects are extinguished at six months, counted from the delivery of the thing sold and is an expiration period,”
In view of the information above, it is essential that if a property is purchased, it must be examined in the most conscientious way immediately after the signature before the notary, so, if there is any hidden defect or problem, the purchaser may claim against the selling party within the term indicated of six months from taking possession of the property.
In some cases, if the property had serious problems, it is possible to claim for them against the vendor, even if the deadline of six months has passed if the problems and defects essentially affect the property, in accordance with the doctrine known as aliud pro alio, which we will talk about in a future article
If you have bought or sold a property in Spain and some defects and problems appear and you want legal advice from expert lawyers, contact us and we will assist you.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, it simply transmits information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
White & Baos
Tel: +34 966 426 185
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