Revised text of the Horizontal Property Act 49/1960, as amended by Reform Act 8/1999, Civil Procedure Act 1/2000, and Equal Opportunities, Non-discrimination and Universal Access for Persons with Disabilities Act 51/2003
PREAMBLE OF REFORM ACT (ACT 8/1999)
The extended period of time during which the Horizontal Property Act 49/1960, of 21st July, has been in force has evidenced its usefulness in a variety of fields, including the regulation of mutual relations between unit owners under this system of property ownership, real estate development and urban planning. With Act 2/1988, of 23rd February, and Act 3/1990, of 21st June, the Horizontal Property Act was adapted to social reality. However, the passing of time has created new social needs regarding the regulation of horizontal property. At present, the unanimity rule is deemed excessively strict in as much as it hinders implementation of certain actions considered beneficial for property owners’ communities and even for society at large, for environmental or other reasons. Therefore, it seems appropriate to introduce some flexibility in the adoption of resolutions aimed at establishing certain services (such as janitor service, lifts, removal of architectural barriers impeding the mobility of people with physical handicaps, telecommunication services, collection and use of solar energy, etc.). Another pressing social need is to enable communities of property owners to legally recover debts owed by their own members. The reform aims at implementing the so-called “fight against defaulting” with a series of measures: creation of a reserve fund, inclusion in the deed of any outstanding debts, real attachment of the property transferred to payment of those general expenses attributable to the year when the transfer took place plus the preceding year, joint and several liability of the transferor who fails to report the transfer, enforceability of resolutions adopted by the general assembly and recorded in the minutes of its meetings, establishment of a rapid and effective civil procedure for the collection of debts to the community, etc. This Act also includes an updated regulation of the recording of minutes of meetings, duties of the community’s governing bodies (particularly those of the administrator, whose position may be filled by any unit owner or by natural persons with adequate professional qualification), convening of meetings, exercise of voting rights, renunciation of the office of president and other matters encountered daily in community living and which were not sufficiently regulated. With the above measures, the Horizontal Property Act gains not only flexibility and dynamism, but also effectiveness, adapting itself to the new social requirements so as to continue to be one of Spain’s most far-reaching legal pieces of legislation.
Note.- This system of ownership is also known as condominium ownership in the US and most of Canada, commonhold system in England and Wales and tenement law in Scotland. Other names are used in other countries, such as strata titles (British Columbia, Singapore, Northern Australia, Southern Australia), strata schemes (New South Wales), unit titles (Western Australia), sectional titles (South Africa), divided co-ownership (Québec), and flying freeholds (Jersey). However, horizontal property is a synonym also used in a number of countries, along with their own specific designations.
General Provisions Section 1
This Acts purports to govern the special system of ownership established in section 396 of the Civil Code, known as horizontal property. For the purposes of this Act, “unit” means any part of a building that can be subject to independent use by reason of separate independent entrances from either the public thoroughfare or a common element, and shall be construed to include but not be limited to flats and business or other premises.
This Act shall apply to– a) communities of property owners formed under the provisions of section 5; b) communities fulfilling the requisites established in section 396 of the Civil Code and for which no declaration of horizontal property [i.e. the master deed] has been executed. In any case, for matters relating to the legal system of ownership of individual units and common areas, and for those regarding reciprocal rights and obligations of unit owners, these communities shall be governed by the provisions of this Act; and c) private real estate developments, in the terms established in this Act.