In some instances, a property in Spain may have more than one legal owner. The most common example is when a couple buys a property and registers as joint owners. However, circumstances change, and you may wish to relinquish or give up your ownership so that only one party is the owner. This guide offers information and advice on claims on joint ownership in Spain, a legal process that is usually straightforward unless the parties fail to agree.
What is joint ownership?
Ownership of a property by more than one person, typically a couple but sometimes business partners or members of a family. The property title deeds clearly state who the property belongs to and their percentage share.
Why might the owners decide to put an end to co-ownership?
As we all know, circumstances change and such a shift could mean that co-ownership is no longer possible or beneficial. For example:
- A co-owning couple might be getting a divorce and one partner wishes to keep the asset.
- Two couples might no longer want to co-own the property and transfer it to just one of the couple’s names.
- Several members of a family might have inherited the property, but only one wishes to own it.
- Business partners who co-own may wish to sell their share/holdings to the others or buy them out.
How do you bring joint ownership to an end?
The easiest method is via an agreement between all the current owners in which those who wish to relinquish their share agree to sell it to the other owner. This agreement also saves both parties considerable taxes.
What are the taxes on severing joint ownership?
As you will have discovered when you bought the property, real estate transactions in Spain are considerably expensive – you pay at least 7% of the purchase price in transfer tax, for example. However, in the case of dissolution of joint ownership, the tax bill is relatively small since the buyer is only for liable for stamp duty (from 0% to 1.5% depending on the region of Spain).
You pay stamp duty on the fiscal value of the property. For example, if you are buying 50% of a property worth €200,000 that you jointly own you would pay 1.5% of €100,000 (€1,500).
What about other fees?
When joint ownership is divided in Spain, each party is liable for certain fees as follows:
- Legal fees
- Notary and Land Registry fees.
The buyer must also pay the previous joint owner the agreed amount.
- Capital gains tax on the amount received for their share.
- Mortgage cancellation charges, if applicable.
What happens if there’s a mortgage on the property?
The seller may need to seek permission from the mortgage provider and if necessary, cancel the mortgage at the time of transferring their share to the other owner(s).
How can we estabilish a price for the sale of the property?
The most objective way is to use the services of an independent valuer.
What if the property cannot be divided?
Dissolution of joint ownership is not always possible because of legal obstacles or because severing co-ownership will mean the property loses its value. In this case, the owners may agree to divide the property and sell it through arbitration.
If this action is unsuccessful, any joint owner may take the other(s) to court. This procedure terminates when the property is sold at a public auction, often at a lower than market price. As a result, all parties stand to lose so court action should be your last resort.
Can joint owners decide to remain undivided?
Yes, if all parties agree. However, the co-ownership may be for a maximum of ten years only, extendable if all parties agree.
Is legal advice necessary in claims on joint ownership?
As with all matters concerning the property in Spain, taking professional advice is highly recommended. Not only will you ensure that you do everything legally but you will save on paperwork and taxes.
Our legal team has a long track record in all aspects of conveyancing including the dissolution of co-ownership. If you own a property in Spain with someone else and wish to sever the ownership, get in touch for a no-obligation consultation or fill out the form below.