FAQ: Complexes

Complexes in Tenerife are mainly (though not solely) governed by the Ley de propiedad horizontal (Law of Horizontal Division), and there are links Spanish and English versions on the Resources page. Below are some of the questions I’m most often asked.

Some questions, such as those concerning the specific percentages required for various votes, need to be answered by qualified administrators. If you don’t already have one, you could consult someone like René Campen of Hestria (website HERE), a generous adviser to this site and a qualified administrator.


Just click on any question or the + at the side to expand it.

 

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76 Comments

  1. Hi Janet,

    At our recent AGM, a vote was taken to heat the pool. The meeting was held on second calling.
    The motion was carried by 19 votes to 10 of people present at the meeting.
    Our president is dead set against the heating of the pool, and is now saying that the motion wasn’t carried, because it needs 3/5 of total owners in favour, and not 3/5 of people present.
    I have looked at the LHP and don’t think this is correct?
    Article 16 section 4 does say 3/5 of owners, and section 7 says when a meeting is held on second calling, the votes are based on owners present.

    If votes are based on total numbers of owners and not owners present at the meeting, surely this suggests that nothing is ever carried?

  2. Author

    I’m sorry Sharon but as I’ve said before, percentages questions need to be directed to qualified administators because they are too technically complex for me to advise. As far as I’m aware, however, in second call meetings (i.e. the vast majority of meetings), votes are carried by simple majority provided only that the half the cuota is present. This is the trouble with advising on such matters – even with exact numbers of attendees, it is impossible to know the actual cuota percentage that was present. It’s also impossible to know the numbers of proxy votes that the administrator might know about but we don’t, and there is the issue of whether it was itemised in the agenda too, because if it was not, then no vote can legally be taken anyway. I’m afraid you really will need to check the specific details of the situation with your administrators.

  3. Thank you Janet. I know it is complicated.
    66% of our owners were present or represented, so I’m reading it that it is 3/5 of those numbers,
    I have emailed Rene to see if he can answer my question.
    Thanks again,

    Sharon

  4. Sharon I have some personal experience of this, I can’t remember the exact wording of the law of horizontal but basically you won the vote at the meeting 19-10 which is a majority. If 3/5s of the complex are needed to approve then the other owners should be written to and “informed of the decision” made at the meeting (I believe that is the actual text in ley de propiedad horizontal)…. then the owners who were not present have the right to vote against the decision ….. and the ones who don’t reply count n favor of the decision made at the meeting .

    If you think about it logically it has to work that way, imagine if there’s 100 owners and only 10 ever turn up , they would never be able to make ANY decisions at all.

    For example even majority decisions , 10 is not more than half of 100 so theoretically you’d have to wait for 41 more owners to back simple majority decisions , and even more for the 3/5 decisions.

    Hope this helps

  5. Hi, I have been a president in our village for 10 months now, and the AGM is due on the 18th of March. Can you please help with the following questions.
    1. Can you please advise me of the voting procedure with respect to the president and committee.
    2. One of our owners is asking the committee to consider certification of the accounts produced by the Administrator, I am sure I have read somewhere that the Administrator is fully qualified and that if any individual requires an audit then they have to gat a group of owners together to pay for same, what is correct.

  6. Author

    The procedure is that the election of the president is a required item on the annual general meeting’s agenda, and whoever wishes to stand for president does so and the community votes: the one with most votes is elected. The community approves accounts or not depending on what is presented to the general meeting. The accounts are produced by the administrator, who will either be a professional qualified administrator or an owner, who does not need to be qualified. There is no requirement for an audit, though a community could commission one if desired.

  7. Hi, our administrator is well qualified, some of the community want an audit and some don’t how does that work?

  8. Author

    the community will have to vote in the general meeting on whether it accepts the accounts or not, or if the accounts should be externally audited.

  9. A professional external audit may cost several thousand pounds – we had one a couple of years ago cost nearly €4k !

  10. Author

    and ultimately, the community’s accounts are drawn up by the administrator selected by the community, and then approved by the community itself. It’s hard to see why an external audit is required. If the administrator is not trusted, then for me it’s more prudent and productive to elect a different administrator rather than have the accounts audited. Administrators, like presidents, must be elected or re-elected each year.

  11. Hi. I eecently viewed our comunity website and they have published a surveillance report from the pool attendant from last summer. The report is very damning and makes megative reference to individuals some are named others are identified by writing their house numbers. A lot of what is mentioned in the report is factually wrong and one sided. We were not informed of this report before it was published and there is reference to out family by house number and our behaviour when we were not even in spain at the alleged time. My question is should the website administrator have published this report without our consent or being given a chance to point out the incorrect facts? can the committee allow the attendant to publish such defaming material where he names people by first name house and nationality. Is there any law about what material can be posted about an individual on the website.

  12. Author

    This is a question that requires a qualified lawyer or administrator to answer, I’m afraid. More generally, however, this is something to put on the agenda of the next AGM, or even call an EGM about if others are affected and you can get 25% of the community to support your call for an emergency meeting.

  13. Hi Janet, a very helpful and interesting site.
    Not sure if you can help.
    I am the outgoing president of a complex, after the meeting I asked the administrator to be able to view the proxy vote forms and to see the allocation of the voting for each item on the agenda this has been denied.
    The meetings are waiting to be signed off which I said I will do once I had viewed the above, in LPH it states the voting should be included in the minutes but are not, this I have pointed out, all he has said it did not happen at the last meeting.
    Have I any rights to see these items.
    Kind regards
    John

  14. Author

    I believe so, John, but I am not a qualified administrator so my best advice is to seek clarification from a different administrator.

  15. My understanding , from a previous AGM argument ,is that the proxies should be available at AGM for anyone to inspect their validity and subsequently can be examined at Administrator !
    Our Presiden/Administrator was caught out when he didn´t bring them to meeting and had to go and get them before AGM could start or relinquish them !

  16. Hi. I am the president of a building with 68 apartments. I have been functioning for almost one year. Unfortunately the previous administrators of 10+ years did little to ensure good maintenance of our building. As such, since the new administrator and I have been involved, several major issues have surfaced. The pool has had to be closed as it basically was emptying itself (for years the pool was simply being topped up on a daily basis rather than address why and where the water was going), the solarium area is unsafe (due to a disastrous resurfacing job ) A new lift is about to be installed, together with disabled ramps to the rest of the building. To be honest, there are too many issues to list them all. Most of which have serious health and safety concerns.

    These items have been raised at both an AGM and EGM. I am losing sleep with worry that if anyone is hurt, I, as President, will be held responsible ! Is this the case? I have read through your previous responses and will be procuring my own public liability insurance.

    When I was voted as President, I did not put myself forward for this position. In fact, I did not want it. However, I thought, in my naivety, that perhaps I could help. I was not aware of all of the issues, as they had not been itemised on any other Agenda.

  17. Author

    The administrator should be able to confirm that your community has the requisite public liability insurance, and it is good that you yourself will be getting your own too. If these are both in place, and you could show evidence if ever required that you have always acted legally and in good faith then it is hard to see how you could suffer any adverse consequences.

  18. Hi Janet, our president and administrator want the community of owners to buy locales within out complex, i.e. Pool Bar, Restaurant etc. is this legal?

  19. Author

    As with all “is it legal” questions the actual question can be rather different. Can a comunidad de propietarios own something? Yes. Is it a legal body recognized for land registry purposes? Not necessarily. There are instances where a land registry has refused to enter the ownership (after the President of the community signed on the community’s behalf to buy a unit within the complex) on the grounds that the comunidad was not a “personalidad jurídica”. And yet a notary had signed off an escritura for the purchase. I would advise your community to seek qualified legal advice in addition to whatever the president and administrator are suggesting.

  20. Hi Janet
    Can you confirm that spanish law prohibits commercial activities on a residential complex?
    Washing machines and tumble driers are going allday and into the night in one appartment whoose owner runs a care home.
    Other owners are concerned
    Regards
    Charles

  21. Author

    No-one may carry out commercial activities from a residential unit. What you’re describing is, in effect, “nuisance”, so you should complain to the president, and then in turn administrator, policia local, tax office, Guardia Civil … depending on which stage you get listened to.

    When you say that other owners are concerned too, however, then it becomes something the community should instruct the administrator to take action over.

  22. Hi Janet our water bills includes and percentage of the community used which is on top of our community fees.Can I bill the community for this or ask for a reduced in community fee ?

  23. Author

    Your community fee will be based on your percentage ownership, and the actual amount will have been agreed by the community when it approved the overall budget. That will include any individual owners’ contributions to communal water usage. If you disagree with this system, the appropriate way forward is for you to arrange to have it discussed at the next general meeting by asking the administrator to place the matter on the agenda.

  24. Janet
    Could you please clear up some confusion I have on proxy votes. I have been informed that a proxy form must be signed by the owner and voter be legal
    Also that the NIE is not valid on a proxy form as it is not a valid form of Id ( an NIE only means you are registered to pay taxes in Spain it does not imply fiscal residency) although DNI is valid for Spanish citizens a passport would be required by non Spanish.

  25. Author

    Different administrators run different systems. Some will accept a proxy given by a simple email, while others demand a specific form that they produce themselves to be filled out, signed and returned with varying types of supporting documentation (copy of passport, NIE) etc. All that is required is that administrator accepts the owner’s grant of proxy – and so the answer to what is required to grant a proxy vote is that it is whatever the administrator requires. This means that the scope for confusion is infinite, with any number of people having different experiences … and then blaming “Spain”.

    In terms of ID, NIEs are indeed not a form of ID: nothing is a form of ID unless it has a photo on it. Even then some banks won’t accept a Spanish driving licence, despite it being proof of complete acceptance of identity that incorporates a photo. Ultimately, the “requirement” is whatever is demanded by any particular system, or the person administering it.

    A DNI is a Spanish ID card – a formal identification document. For the British, who don’t have an ID card system, the equivalent is a passport. Please have a look HERE – first question on the page.

    Finally, a NIE doesn’t mean you’re registered to pay taxes – it’s just a certificate issued by the police to grant you a trackable number which is required for any official transaction.

  26. Hi Janet
    With regards to Charles post regarding commercial activities on a residential complex. We have a similar problems with Washing machines running all day the place looks like a Chinese laundry owners are complaining and we have been told these people are not paying taxes on the business they are running to make matter worse. My question is can you advise on how we report them to the tax authority I.e the address and can it be done anonymously for fear of retribution against the owners who make the complaint
    John
    The owners are
    Regards

  27. Author

    Denuncias cannot be made anonymously because they are an official public document which requires the initiator’s name on it, but the main tax office in south Tenerife is opposite the Green Hospital in Playa de las Américas.

  28. Hi Janet thanks for your assistance can you give us the postal address for the tax offices as a number of owners now want to write to tax office with their complaint.
    John

  29. Author

    HERE is the Government’s website showing the different tax offices.

  30. We had a similar problem of commercial activity a few years ago. Neighbours complaing of what sounded like washing machines running all night and large deliveries at all times of the day.

    Turns out the deliveries were rice and soya beans and the noise was cooking them in washing machines ???

    I was vice president at the time and we had to initially get the administrators to write to them officially instructing them to cease and then get a court order for them to cease on penalty of the judge placing an embargo on the apartment and evicting them.

  31. I had given my proxy to someone else but was then able to attend the meeting, I was told that I could not speak at the meeting and that if I did all proxy votes would be disallowed. Is this true?

  32. Author

    That doesn’t sound remotely true to me. Could you have misunderstood that it would be your own proxy vote that would be disallowed if you were present in person.

  33. Thanks for your reply Janet. My proxy was allowed, even though I was present, as I did not speak. Is there a rule on attending a meeting even though you have given your proxy to someone else?

  34. Author

    no, the rule is one owner one representation and one vote.

  35. Dear Janet,
    Our President called an Egm and the main item was permission for a private pool in a garden when objections were raised by the neighbours the administrator said, as a precedent had already been set we could not refuse permission and therefore could not vote.

  36. Author

    Your administrator will almost certainly be right.

  37. Hi Janet
    I have just came back from AGM were I had request to change the rules on Sunbeds in the complex. I currently have a 2 bedroom apt. Yet all apt.s are allocated only 2 Sunbeds. 1 bedroom apt are allowed the same . Even thou 2 bedrooms pay 500 € plus per year . I feel it’s very unfair. I raised it again but was told I did this in 2015 so rules states it can’t be voted on again till 2020. You must wait 5 years. Surly. This can not be true. If everyone is in titled to the same benefits then why are we all not all paying the same. It cost a fortune if my grandkids come over.

    merged second question:
    I live on a residential complex and they charge visitors and residents for Sunbeds is this legal. As they run it as a business.

  38. Author

    The issue of sunbeds is an entirely internal one for the community to agree, and what is “fair” for any given community is for that community to decide and vote on. As to the five year ruling, however, ask them to show you where it says that.

    With regard to your second question, if the community has decided there is to be a charge for sunbeds then yes it’s legal.

  39. I am being asked ,on numerous occasions, by a particular owner for the list of debtors. In view of your answer above (quoted below) it seems that he is only entitled to this at the time of the AGM?
    As President can i assume ,as I have a duty to collect the community fees, that I am entitled to copies of the debtor list?

    The only time debtors can be announced and publicly displayed is in the call to an AGM, where they and the amount they owe have to be listed in order to determine who has a right to vote at that AGM. AGMs normally coincide with the end of communities’ financial years (different to the Spanish tax year which is always Jan-Dec), and so AGMs are when a community’s financial year closes and its accounts are signed off – inevitably, then, this is the only time that the community can determine who is actually “in arrears” in a legal sense. The list can only be published, in individual communication to owners and on the public notice board, at the call for an AGM. There are many communities, however, who forget to take such notices down so in effect they are they on display the whole year.

  40. Author

    yes, as president, of course you are! Speak to your administrator.

  41. Hi Janet,
    At our AGM a vote was cast with regards to the height of our wall ,1.85m, which is higher than allowed in the statutes (ballustrades are allowed) This was not on the agenda, however under AOB it did say “Community Rules” We did not know the height of the wall was to be discussed, as we are holiday home owners we did not attend the AGM. Ther were 6 owners present 24% of the urbanisation, 5 voted against changing the rule, our immediate neighbour voted for. Do you think we have a right to challenge this as this as this directly affected us and we knew nothing about the discussion re the wall that took place?
    Regards
    Guilia

  42. Author

    As I say above, there is no Any Other Business in Spanish AGMs, just Questions and Answers. And in this Q&A section at the end, no resolutions or votes can be proposed or passed. That is not a legal vote in my opinion, and so you need to take it up with your administrators, or with other administrators, or a lawyer.

  43. Thanks for that Janet, really appreciate it,
    Giulia

  44. Hi Janet, as a complex, we suffer badly (50%) with debtor arrears. As we all know they use elec/water without payment or sanction.
    With the introduction of the new, & brill, smart meters due to be completed throughout Spain, will this mean that electric suppliers can identify illegal connections and disconnect them?
    Thanks for all your help.
    Kind regards Carol

  45. Author

    I’m sorry but I don’t know. Your administrators will be best placed to answer this question.

  46. thanks for trying Janet, very much appreciated.

  47. Have you ever heard that Horizontal Property law limits the number of family or guests that may be present in the communal pool area at any one time? I have read the translated version of Law 8/1999 reforming law 49/1960 including modifications up to 8/2013 and can find no reference to this. Could it be a regional variation in Tenerife?

  48. Author

    no, no limitation in the law, nor a regional variation. What is in the law though is that there must not be a disturbance, nor communal areas taken over for private parties, so if that is happening then the community has the right to say “stop, too many of you”.

  49. Hi, Great website. We have illegal renters on our complex. We have now been informed by our president that our community insurance will not cover claims from ‘rent paying guests’ if they suffer loss or injury whilst in the communal areas and that individual owners will be liable. If a ‘rent paying guest’ is able to prove the community is negligent can that guest sue the community for damages and are we, as owners, jointly liable?

  50. Author

    I’ve covered the insurance situation HERE (see Holidaymakers section), and yes, despite all the arguments that “it’ll be fine” or “they’ll still pay up”, confirmed legal opinion is that insurance companies may well refuse to pay out on claims for injury incurred while in an illegal let – even if they have previously said there will be no problem. As to personal liabilities of owners, however, it would take legal cases to establish whether any subsequent claim would fall on the comunidad or the individual owner.

  51. Thanks, much appreciated

  52. Hi Janet.
    Sorry if this has been covered. Can a president be elected in his/her absence from the AGM through holiday or illness etc.

  53. Author

    First question in the section above on Officials. A president can be elected even if opposed to being elected. Also question 4 in that section shows that a president doesn’t have to live in Tenerife. There’s absolutely no reason that a president cannot be elected simply because s/he’s not around at the time of the AGM.

  54. Our president refuses time and time again for proposals to be included in the agenda of an AGM. Although it is clearly stated in the Horizontal Property Laws that the President must include any request provided it is clearly stated. Our president maintains that he and he alone draws up the agenda and decides if the proposal is pertinent. Can you let me know if this is in fact the case

  55. Author

    As you say, the LPH is quite clear. Please see the last question in the Officials section above, and the Meetings section for the question”The administrator and President will NOT put anything that we request on the agenda. Can they do this?”.

  56. Thanks Janet. I have read the comment you relate to. However I have been told that somewhere in the small print the President is entitled to decide if the proposal is relevant. I have only read a translated version of the Act, wondered where this small print if any is in the official Spanish version. If the President can decide what he personal wants on the agenda, it makes a nonsense of the Act. For example if we want to propose, that we go out to tender for our gardening contract, the President can decide that in his opinion this is not relevant as he is happy with the existing contractors even though we have cheaper quotations.

  57. Author

    Small print in legislation regarding communities is a matter for a lawyer or a qualified administrator to confirm, but I don’t believe he’s correct. I can envisage some situations, however, where a president feels harrassed by repeated requests on a settled matter, and might feel (and be) justified in refusing to add an issue to an agenda. Specifically, though, when it comes to financial decisions affecting the community then the item must go on the agenda.

  58. Hi Janet wonder if you can help we live on a residential complex in the south. The owners feel that our administrator does not do enough to assist in dealing with problems which arrive. Can you advise on what should be expected from an administrator I.e his roll, responsibilities and duties.
    Thank you for your help
    John

  59. Author

    Please see the question “What do presidents and administrators actually do?” under the Official section above.

  60. I live on a complex in the canaries, we have a lot of Spanish owners some debtors some not. My question is how did that community manage to get a 100% acceptance on the issue of debtors being denied access to facilities on their complex, I understand that any debtor can legally challenge this community rule and would win their case. I have been told that community rules do not supercede Spanish Law. Were all the owners there non Spanish ? Is that how this ruling was passed.

  61. Author

    Please see the question “What can a community do about perpetual debtors?” in the Debtors section above.

  62. Hi Janet, i hope you can help, we have a privately owned pool bar in our complex, nothing at all to do with the complex, it just happens to be located there,
    The committee have agreed to allow the bar 4 people to use the pool in the summer & 8 in the winter, this is causing problems with the bar owner as he invites all an sundry to use the pool when using his bar. Do we have to allow him use of the pool for his customers, he pays community fees, he is not resident in the complex.
    Kind regards.
    Frances.

  63. Author

    The bar will be something to do with the community if it’s part of communal space, and as you say, the bar owner pays community fees. Any owner is a member of their community and does not need to be resident to enjoy the facilities of the community in which they own. What the actual rules are for his customers, however, is something your administrator will need to clarify because they will have access to all information about internal rules, community owners and their quota, and more particularly, the community’s Statutes.

  64. I have been President of our community for eighteen years purely for the fact that we have only three residents out of twenty eight properties, two of whom are elderly ladies, and that leaves. So I get voted on every year. What is the position on Presidents getting paid some kind of financial renumeration , ie community see paid or partly paid. People think that it`s normal, but I say it`s the exception rather than the rule. I can`t find anything in The Law of Horizontal Properties that states that the President can be paid, John

  65. Author

    Presidents aren’t paid for being president.

  66. Hello Janet, is it possible please to offer some advice concerning an ongoing situation which is occurring on our complex.

    There has been a long running problem with a certain owners cats roaming the complex and doing their business outside various properties on 5 floors.

    Complaints have been made to the owner concerned who in turn has responded with a could not care less attitude, but now to make matters worse she is now feeding a stray cat on the complex which has just had a litter of kittens, which she will no doubt feed also.

    The owner in question in her wisdom has decided to feed the stray cat outside other owners properties…never outside her own! Is there anything the can be done to deal with this problem.
    Just to add that the president and various owners have previously asked the person concerned not to feed stray cats, but sadly the polite requests have been treated with contemp.

    Regards,
    Peter.

  67. Author

    Please could you see the answer to the very first question above? If you have an owner refusing all demands to stop then the community needs to consult the administrator, or if necessary its lawyer, what more can be done.

  68. Hi Janet,
    Our administration did not hold an annual meeting last year. Can you please tell me if this adminstration is now valid? as I take it that legally they must hold an annual meeting. Many thanks.

  69. Author

    it’s a legal requirement to have a general meeting annually, so someone needs to call an EGM to discuss the matter and if necessary replace the administrators.

  70. Hi Janet,

    Many thanks for your prompt reply. I will notify the other owners in our community.

    Best regards,
    Juliet

  71. What can you do when owners not following the communidad regulations after several warnings ? Thx

  72. Author

    Speak to the president and/or committee, and possibly the administrator to bring it up at the next AGM.

  73. Hi Janet,
    The room above our bedroom is a bathroom. when the toilet is used the noise is horrendous. due to the noise, the bedroom is not usable. The noise is coming from the toilet (neighbour owned) and from the pipework linking the above property to our property.
    Appreciate if you can advise who is responsible for the repair costs. I am minded to believe that the fault is with the construction of the property and should be
    taken up with community’s insurers, or is the neighbour (or myself) responsible ?

  74. Author

    There’s no easy answer to this because it’s a “disturbance” rather than damage, and it’s possible there’s no actual “fault” to repair. I think you’d need to consult a lawyer to determine the various possibilities, but in the first place try discussing it with the neighbour and, perhaps the administrator, to see if there are any simpler potential solutions that wouldn’t involve legal steps.

  75. Hi Janet
    Thank you for your counsel on the noise disturbance.
    Personally I think that there is a fault, in that the building was constructed without adequate sound insulation material being fitted. As mentioned previously, I also believe that other apartments will also be experiencing the same issue (we are a first year community, so shared experiences are not yet known).
    Upon your advice, I have written to the administrator, no reply so far.
    Do you think that there is any benefit in including this item in the next AGM ?

  76. Author

    yes, always, such matters should always be discussed communally.

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