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Abusive Clauses In Spanish Property Contracts

By: John Hill

Kingdom-Homes warns purchasers of Spanish property to watch out for the various abusive clauses that too often appear in the purchase contracts that they will be required to sign subsequent to reserving their Spanish property.

The lack of a precise date for the termination of the property is one such abuse. There is often a big difference between the date given verbally in the showroom (for example, two years from now or December 2008) and what you subsequently find in the contract presented for signature (18 months from when building begins, for example, or two years from the issue of the building license). You, the purchaser, clearly have no control over the building license, or when construction commences. Your ability to claim damages or to cancel your purchase, in these circumstances, effectively disappears. You have no alternative but to wait!

Another example of an abusive clause is one that gives the developer the right to make changes to the property being purchased subsequent to the sale being agreed. Your chosen property's bathroom, in the sales office, and subsequently in the purchase contract, for example, features a Jacuzzi bath. On completion, however, there is no bath in the bathroom, but a shower instead. Unless you want to convince a Spanish judge that your property has suffered a loss in value as a result, you will have no option but to accept the property as it is / with a shower instead of a bath.

There are many other abusive clauses. What they all have in common, however, is the circumvention of the consumers' legitimate rights.

The Spanish Consumers Association (la confederacion de Consumidores y Usuarios - CECU) recently studied a sample of property purchase contracts. Their conclusions included the following:

- That the inclusion of clauses abusing consumers rights in property purchase contracts was common practice; and
- That there was a general lack of knowledge among consumers of their legal rights

The Association reported that the contracts they examined contained, on average, 4.74 clauses or stipulations that they considered to be abusive of the consumers' legal rights.

Kingdom-Homes believe the British buyers best defense against these abuses to be:

- The use of a British property agent, who speaks fluent Spanish, lives in their chosen area and conducts business with the utmost integrity (a firm commitment of Kingdom-Homes); and
- The appointment of an independent Spanish lawyer who speaks fluent English

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