Spanish Land Registry: Essential Insights For Property Buyers
There are so many reasons why tens of thousands of foreigners buy properties in Spain every year. The food, sunshine, diverse landscape and affordable house prices all make for a great quality of life or an amazing holiday home.
However, buying property in Spain can be a complex process. There are new documents you need to ask for, fees you need to pay and legal requirements you need to obey. One of the most important things when investing in a property in Spain is the Spanish Land Registry.
But why is the Spanish Land Registry so important? What does it tell you? Do you legally have to get the information? In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the registry and why it plays such an important role in providing buyers and sellers with legal security.
What Is The Spanish Land Registry?
The Spanish Land Registry (or Registro de la Propiedad in Spanish) is a public register that provides details on every property in Spain. It’s supervised by the Ministerio de Justicia (Ministry of Justice) and run by the Spanish Government.
Basically, the Spanish Land Registry provides all the information one needs about a property, including its size, address, ownership changes, owners' names and use. Importantly, it can also tell prospective owners if there are any debts or financial problems associated with the property.
Can Anyone Have Access To The Spanish Land Registry?
Yes, the Spanish Land Registry is a public register and anyone with a legitimate interest in the property can access the information. A person of legitimate interest may be someone interested in buying the property, a lawyer, an heir or an administrator.
Where Is The Spanish Land Registry?
When you buy a property in Spain, both parties in the transaction will need to appear before a notary who will go through every detail of the contract and answer any legal questions either side may have. Once both parties have agreed on the sale terms and contract, the exchange may happen.
After signing with the notary, the next step is to register the property with the details of the new owners, this is done by the notary. Some more rural areas may only have one Land Registry Office, whereas cities can have multiple. Valencia, for example, has 18 and Alicante 8.
Some parts of the Spanish Land Registry can be done online. This includes requesting a Nota Simple.
OK, So What Is A Nota Simple?
To fully understand what a Nota Simple is, we need to go back to the start of your search for a property in Spain. Or at least way before you meet with the notary to exchange.
A Nota Simple is a document issued by the Land Registry Office (whichever one the address of the property falls under). It includes several pieces of important information such as:
● The date on which you asked for the Nota Simple (and therefore the date the document is valid).
● The Land Registry Office responsible for the property.
● Descripción de la Finca. This is a detailed description of the building, including the address (plus the door address if it’s an apartment); the size of the property; how many bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors etc the property has; views from the property; and if there is access to any common areas.
● Titularidades (owners). You’ll be able to find out who the current owners are, when they bought the property, and with which notary they signed.
● If the property has any debts (Cargas), such as unpaid taxes.
As you can see, there is lots of essential information on a Nota Simple that every buyer needs to know before taking the next step. You may also be asked to provide a Nota Simple if you’re in contact with a bank for a mortgage.
How Can I Get A Nota Simple In Spain?
There are two main ways to get a Nota Simple in Spain – either directly from the Land Registry Office or online.
To find out which Land Registry Office you need to visit, go to the Registradores Website and type in the address of the property you’re interested in in the search box at the top of the page. The website will then tell you which Land Registry Office to go to. Getting it from the office itself will cost around €4 and you’ll be able to pick it up in a few days.
The arguably easier way to do it is to ask for a Nota Simple online. From a different page on the same website. You can add the property details, pay around €10 and have the document sent to you online in a few days. If you’re working with legal representatives during the property buying process, they usually do this step for you.
If you need the document to be translated, you’ll have to pay a further fee.
Why Is The Spanish Land Registry So Important?
Getting a Nota Simple and registering the property once you’re the owner is really important for several reasons.
● You can confirm the owner is who they say they are. In some areas of Spain, squatters and Spanish squatter laws mean there have been instances of ‘owners’ selling property that isn’t theirs to sell. A Nota Simple clearly states the legal owner of the property and how long they’ve had it.
● You know there are no debts on the property. A Nota Simple clearly states whether debts are outstanding on a property or not. You can therefore know that there won’t be any unforeseen fees.
● You can check that there are no inheritance disputes.
● Developers or those thinking about renovating can get a better understanding of the property. A Nota Simple clearly states the legal parameters of the land, as well as certain aspects of the property that developers need to be aware of.
● Legal security of ownership. The Land Registry Office will officially recognize the new owners once they have been registered, giving them peace of mind that it’s legally theirs.
The Spanish Land Registry is essential when it comes to protecting the legal rights of buyers and sellers of property in Spain. Sellers can feel at ease knowing they’re buying what they think they’re buying (in terms of size, previous owners and debts) and it's easy and transparent to register the property too.
It’s a good idea to work with a legal advisor who can take you through the steps of the Nota Simple. Knowing all the important steps of buying a property in Spain in advance will help to ensure the process goes smoothly and you know exactly what to expect along the way.
Note that this article is general and is shared as information. Property, tax, finance and other legal topics are personal and can vary not only from person to person but between the different regions of Spain. We recommend that you seek professional guidance if you need advice on matters covered in this article.