Tenants and repossessed properties

A few days ago, I was contacted by a reader who asked me for some advice. The person in question has been kind enough to let me post here her situation. We both thought it might be useful for anyone else who might be caught in a similar situation.

Hi Andrew, I have read your blog with interest and learnt a lot!! Thank you. I wonder if you could advise me on something. I have been renting a property on the Costa del Sol for 4 years.

Last week the police, court, bank and locksmith appeared at the door and gave me literally 2 minutes to vacate the property. I told them I had been renting, they asked me to produce my contract which typically wasn’t directly to hand. I explained that I had to leave within 10 minutes to collect my 9 year old daughter from school but they wouldn’t allow this until I had produced my contract. I found it thankfully, but felt under great pressure. The police radioed to the school to ask them to keep my daughter there until I arrived (it’s a 45minute walk to the school and I was 30 minutes late, my daughter was distressed as she was concerned that something had happened to me).

I thought the way they treated me was terrible, particularly as I had no idea what was happening. I had received notices for my landlord and thought maybe they were traffic offences or something, when I eventually called the court myself to find out what the notices were, they couldn’t tell me, even though I told them I was a tenant at the property.

The situation now is that after being given 10 days to show the rental contracts for 4 years and any supporting documents to the court, I have to wait to find out what will happen. My contract runs until December and my rent is paid up until the 9th July (I have always paid quarterly). The court is trying to see if I can stay in the property until at least July but cannot guarantee this apparently as it is up to the bank.

The property was put to auction but didn’t sell. My initial reaction was that I wanted to leave ASAP as I was understandably pretty angry at my landlord, in hindsight I think it will be really difficult for me to find a suitable rental right in the middle of summer, and I will lose 2400 euros deposit which being alone with my daughter I can’t afford to lose. I’m unable to work at the moment due to an accident, I have to go to the hospital every day for physiotherapy treatment, I have given this supporting documentation to the court. Do you think there is anything I can do so that I can continue until the end of the contract and if so, who would I pay rent to? Thank you, I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.

Regards
M.

Dear M.,
Sorry I did not get back to you sooner, but I thought you might want a more complete answer than simply, “yes you can stay till the end of the rent”.

Under article 13.1 of the “Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos” it is stated:

“Si durante los cinco primeros años de duración del contrato el derecho del arrendador (landlord) quedara resuelto por (…) la ENAJENACION FORZOSA DERIVADA DE UNA EJECUCION HIPOTECARIA O DE SENTENCIA JUDICIAL el arrendatario (tenant) tendrá derecho, en todo caso, a continuar en el arrendamiento hasta que se cumplan cinco años”

A rough translation
Article 13.1 of Urban rental law:

If during the first 5 years of the duration of the contract, the right of the landlord to the property is removed due to mortgage or court sentence, the tenant has the right to continue the rental contract up to five years.

If it is of any interest this information was supplied by Clara del Saz-Orozco, clara@cnspain.com a lawyer based in Fuengirola that deals with property law.

Additionally to my readers, as I have mentioned previously in repossessions in Spain, if there are children in residence it is generally very difficult for the ‘ex-owner’ or the existing tenants to be evicted. Also remember, as mentioned in Costa del Sol rentals a holiday contract is only for 11 months. If after this period, you renew this contract it is no longer a holiday let but a long term rental, and you the tenant have the right to stay in the property up to 5 years. Regardless if the new owner is an individual or bank.

In either case I am sure who ever reads this sympathises with M. plight, and with a bit of luck will be sorted out quickly and efficiently.

Regards
Andrew Belles

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9 Responses to “Tenants and repossessed properties”

  1. Sam Estby says:

    I am currently in the UK and have been here for 5 months, I am 5 months behind on my rent – I found out this morning that the Landlord has changed the locks and cut power and water off to the property.

    I am in the middle of a divorce and my wife was in Marbella hospital looking after a friend of hers who has had surgery and my daughter was staying with a neighbour.

    My wife has moved all of her possessions out of the property but she has left all of my possessions in the house.

    Firstly is what the Landlord done legal?
    I believe from my research it is not, if so what recourse do I have to reclaim my items and how do I go about remedying the issue – I am going to have to fly back to Spain to deal with it but any advise will be helpful.

  2. Andrew says:

    Dear Sam,

    first of, the landlord has no right to change the locks on your property. Although I am sure that a few people who read this will sympathise with the landlord!
    What he or she has done though is illegal. Had he wished to end the contract or have you, as tenants, removed he should have gone through the courts.

    If you have a rental contract, I would recommend getting legal advice on the procedures you need to take.

    I would recommend you have a lawyer contact the landlord to request access to regain your posessions.

  3. Sam Estby says:

    Andrew

    Thank you for your response I will contact my Spanish lawyer and act accordingly.

    If I force entry to the property to retrieve my possessions am I comitting a crime as I have been advised to do this.

  4. marty says:

    Hi Andrew
    If your tenancy agreement is written in English does the law in Spain still apply as I am in a similar situation and the landlord now seems to be absent?
    Regards Marty

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Marty,

    I beleive the contract is still valid if written in english, french, etc…
    Normally if a contract is done in a language other than Spanish (castellano) it should state that in case of conflict the spanish translation holds sway. Or something to that effect.

    Now how valid the contract itself is (clauses, etc..) is a different argument.

    Andrew

  6. david says:

    Hi I have been renting an apartment from a developer who had offered the owner a 3 year guaranteed rental deal. The developer never paid the owner and has gone out of business.
    The owner contacted me to say that the bank are repossessing the apartment. I have lost my deposit I also paid for some outstanding utility bills from the previous tenants. I live in the apartment with my wife and 11 year old daughter.
    My question is should I approach the bank and inform them I am living in the property?
    The developer is no longer collecting the rent and the owners lawyer has told him not to accept any payments from me as it will effect the repossession.

  7. Hi David, I assume you have a contract?
    If so seek legal advice first. Now.

  8. david says:

    Hi Yes I have a contract, I have been to visit the bank direct and this may be of help to others.
    The bank agreed that it is going to hard to remove me from the apartment and that it would take many months. They also do not want the property back but they have no choice.
    We have agreed that i will stay until they have ownership and they will either give me plenty of notice to quit or they will consider making a rental agreement direct with me.
    I would say that any one in a similar position should consider talking direct to the repossessing bank.

  9. That’s good news David. Understandable really has it allows the bank to at least get an income from the asset in the mean time.

    Unless they can sell and make a profit (not too likely as they will want to recoup their investment) they will be more than likely want a rental agreement

    Best of luck, and keep us informed
    Andrew

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