SPANISH REAL ESTATE LAW: Communities of Owners. Owners (bare owners) and Holders of the Usufruct: Who must pay the community fees? and who is entitled to attend and vote at the community meetings?


Dear Sirs,
My wife and I own an apartment in Javea, in which my mother-in-law kept the usufruct (life interest). I wonder who should pay the community fees, if it should be my mother-in-law who is using the property, or ourselves as the owners. Also, I would like to know who should assist in the meetings and who is entitled to vote on them, we as owners, or my mother-in-law as she has a life interest? Thank you for your help.

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your consultation.

I understand by what you say, that you and your wife are the owners of the property (nudo propietarios), while her mother is the usufructuary, keeping the live interest ( usufruct). And also that the property is subject to the Horizontal Division Act/Law, being part of a community of owners, all according and subject to Spanish law.

As you know, by means of the USUFRUCT, in your case, your mother in law has the right to use the property and also right to its fruits thereof, i.e. the right to receive the rent in case that the property is let out, etc.; but she is not a proprietor.

Regarding your consultation, we understand that:

1.-You and your wife as bare owners, are liable before the community of owners to pay the community fees, therefore, though your mother-in-law uses the property, she is just a holder of a beneficial interest, without having the consideration of owner.

You will be able to claim the community fees from her, but only if you had an agreement in this regards, which in any case, would not affect the community, which will always request the payment from you as the owner.

2. – In terms of attendance and vote in the community meetings, you should be aware, that Article 15 of the Horizontal Division Law, expressly regulates usufruct cases. This article states that if the property is in usufruct, the right to assist and vote still corresponds to the owner, and while it may be understood that they are represented by the usufructuary, unless otherwise stated, a written delegation will be needed for voting on certain special agreements.

Therefore, the rights and obligations to which we have referred, are for the owners of the property, and not the beneficial owners (usufructarios), despite them having the right of use of the properties.
If you find yourself in this or a similar situation, please let us assist you.

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.

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