Covid has undoubtedly transformed life everywhere in the world. Not least in the workplace and as a result, many people are considering adapting their properties to suit their new priorities. But some of these transformations may require permissions from your Community of Owners. In this article, we look at your rights to make changes in your home in Spain after Covid.
Necessary changes after Covid
Many people have had to reinvent themselves and/or transform their business to adapt to the new normality. In some cases, these adaptations include changes to a structure or function of a home.
Most homes and premises businesses in Spain are subject to the horizontal property regime (Ley de Propiedad Horizontal/ LPH in Spanish). This legislation governs when you can do to a building when it forms part of a complex and is run by a Community of Owners.
The regime includes specific regulations that means, in principle, any action that involves a modification of the common elements must go through a prior community agreement. Modification in this case ranges from the relatively straightforward process of enclosing your terrace or changing the use of a communal element.
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Can I Carry Out Work On My Property?
For any work that takes place behind your front door, ie only within the space that belongs to you solely and does not form part of any communal element, you must inform the President of the Community of Owners.
For any work that affects communal space (outside your front door) or elements of the façade, for example, you may need permission from the Community of Owners.
In some cases, the regulations for the Community include the provision for a certain type of work such as fitting and enclosing your terrace with windows. If your Community has such a clauses, you do not prior permission from the Community of Owners to carry out the work.
Can The Use of The Property Be Changed Without Permission From The Community of Owners?
You may be thinking of changing your home into an office to allow you to work from home. But do you need permission for this or is there any paperwork involved in the change.
Both Spanish law and Case Law mostly determine that you can change the use of a property as long as the change is in accordance to provisions in the title deeds and Community of Owner statutes.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that a description of a property does not mean that its use is limited in any way. According to Case Law, the new use is not limited provided that it complies with the Community of Owner rules.
Does That Automatically Mean I Can Make Changes To Communal Elements?
No, neither refurbishing a property nor changing its use gives you the right to carry out modifications to common elements. To do this, you need permission from the Community of Owners.
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Can the Community of Owners prohibit one owner from doing what has been consented to another?
If you’re planning to carry out a modification that another owner has already carried out – for example, enclosing your terrace with windows or installing an air conditioning unit on the façade – the following applies:
Case 1: The Community of Owners approved the other owner’s work at board meeting level
In this case, our legal understanding is that the Community of Owners cannot prohibit work that it allowed previously even if it were just for one specific owner. However, we always advise that it’s best to avoid an interpretation of previous approval so it’s advisable to get an agreement from the Community of Owners giving permission for the work or not.
Case 2: There is no agreement but the work has been carried out
This is the case presenting the most conflict. Bear in mind that if the Community of Owners has not given its consent to work, it can force you to undo the work at any time and return the communal element to its original state.
The only exception to this is if the work can be considered as tacitly consented or if it was carried out at least five years beforehand. In these cases, there would always be a doubt as to whether the Community of Owners could act against it.
Case 3: The Community of Owners has expressly or tacitly authorized some work in common elements, for example, the closing of terraces, but the work being carried out is another
In this case, Case Law admits that if the same work has been authorized beforehand, identical work cannot be prohibited. But if your work is of a different nature, you need permission from the Community of Owners.
Best Course of Action
Unless owners (previous or present) have carried out identical work to yours, we always recommend you request permission from the Community of Owners. This will prevent it from forcing you to return the element to its original state. And it’s always safer to challenge an agreement than to let time elapse without knowing whether if the Community of Owners could force you at any time to undo the work carried out.
Take Expert Legal Advice
If you have a question about Community of Owners regulations, get in touch with our expert legal team for a free consultation. Remember, the right advice now will save you time, money and stress later on.