More than one million foreigners have already bought a property in Spain and when you do, you automatically become a member of a community of property owners. Regardless of the type of property you buy, be it a villa, an apartment or retirement home, you will find that your own interests are affected by the decisions of your neighbours.
You will pay your community fees each year and at some point you will meet with your neighbours to discuss community matters.
If the property you buy is a new one, you may even be asked to contribute from the beginning to the formation of the community committee, appointing chairpersons etc and the fixing of community fees and services.
Only those who buy an individual property standing on it's own will not have to join a community.
The community is a very important part of your property and a well-run community can increase the value of your property, likewise a badly-run community can cut the value of your property. Before you purchase a property, find out as much as you can about the community to which you will belong. It is in your best interests to have a good, efficient community.
The biggest problem you are likely to face is that the community guides will be produced in Spanish and chances are that the AGM will be held in Spanish. Although there are guides available with rough translations.
The Comunidad de Propietarios is the Spanish system for regulating the joint ownership of common property. If you lived in an apartment this may be the foyer or entrance hallway, the gardens, the pool and the drains and other services. The community decides on how much to spend on these services, how to maintain them and how they should be managed. The community is a legal force and can go to court in the case of a dispute. You should make yourself aware of all the agreements and terms that it has. Before you buy a property there are several things you need to find out:
How much are the services fees for items such as water and drainage ? Ask for previous bills as evidence.
Are the community fees paid up to date? You are entitled to a certificate to prove this.
Is the community in debt ? If the community has had to borrow money to cover unexpected expenses such as roof repairs, find out if you are liable for a contribution and if so, how much.
Ask to see the minutes book of past meetings and you will have a rough idea on the kind of problems encountered in the past. Your seller should have a copy of the minutes and the accounts of the community. Research at this stage can save you a considerable amount of time and money in the future. Chances are these minutes and accounts will be in Spanish but you shouldn't have much trouble in obtaining a rough translation.