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Seven tips to help you learn Spanish or Catalan AUG 2008

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Foreigners to get free medical care in Catalunya – whether legal or not, says regional government
Monday, June 24, 2013

CATALUNYA'S regional health authority has handed out over 106,000 cards entitling foreign residents to free State medical care – despite a national law which states they are not eligible.

The department, CatSalut, says it is against the legislation passed by Spanish health minister Ana Mato which means non-EU immigrants without residence rights cannot be treated without paying except for immediate emergencies, pregnancy and childbirth, unless they are under age 18.

Technically, European Union citizens who do not have a valid 'green certificate' dated on or before April 24, 2012 are not entitled to free healthcare either, unless they pay Social Security every month at 270 euros or have a job contract, whereby their employers will be paying this for them.

But in many cases and particularly at family doctor level, medics are continuing to treat both unqualified EU and illegal immigrants through a conscientious objection.

And Catalunya has decided to follow this trend universally, giving 97,100 permanent SIP cards – which entitle the bearer to use the public health service – to foreigners who have been on the padrón, or census, for more than a year, and another temporary, renewable form of SIP card to 9,100 others who have been on their town halls' books for less than a year.

This is irrespective of whether they have a valid and current residence card or not, and a further 10,000 or more cards will soon be handed out to other non-registered, non-EU foreigners.

Letters have been sent to all of them, although around 2,000 have been returned by the post office.

Spokesman for CatSalut, Boi Ruiz, says the Spanish Constitution provides for healthcare for all residents in the country irrespective of their financial, professional or legal status, and that for medical attention to be on condition of paying Social Security went against Spain's Carta Magna.

Ruiz says 600,000 people in Catalunya would not be able to get free healthcare if the regional government obeyed the Royal Decree passed by Mato last year.

These include 200,000 immigrants who do not have their residence papers in order or whose existing cards have expired and not yet been renewed, and another 400,000 foreigners – EU citizens, nationals of countries elsewhere and even native Spaniards – who are not paying Social Security.

Of these 400,000, some do not have enough, or any, income to enable them to pay it; some belong to religious orders or so-called 'liberal professions' which are exempt from paying this; some are early retirees living off a private pension or other income from savings; and some are non-workers with an annual income of 100,000 euros a year or more.

Those in the latter two categories are not permitted to pay Social Security as they are not part of the workforce.

Ruiz says all of these people, if they live in Catalunya, will be allowed to have free State healthcare.

He says as well as being unfair, not allowing those who cannot afford to pay to be treated for free is extremely dangerous, particularly as it is likely to lead to epidemics of contagious illnesses.

Tropical diseases are often found to be carried by immigrants from African and Latin American countries, and these can be treated successfully if caught in time – but without attention, some types of these can spread rapidly, Ruiz explains.

And HIV and AIDS is more prevalent in third-world nationals, and where untreated can reach epidemic proportions because of the risk of its spreading to others.

Hospitals elsewhere in Spain have already raised grave concerns about this issue.

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ENERGY CERTIFICATES IN SPAIN UPDATE APRIL 2013

The Spanish government has now finally approved the new law governing energy certificates for resale property and property for rent in Spain to come into effect on 1st June 2013.

Properties for Sale:
Since 2007, new properties are obliged to have an energy certificate. However, from 1st June, all second hand properties must now also have this certificate in order for the property to be sold. The certificate, apart from categorizing the property in term of energy efficiency (A-G), will also be obliged to include information on ways to improve the energy characteristics of the property.

Properties for Rent:
The same applies to properties for rent as for those for sale, with the difference that the certificate will only be required upon property for rent in excess of periods of four months or more, presumably, exempting holiday rental properties.

As a guide to assist implementing these certificates, the Spanish Ministry of Industry is publishing online programs, ce3 y ce3x, specifically for the use of the official installers who can issue the certificates.

Furthermore, all government public buildings larger than 500m2 that are open to the general public will also be obliged to display a certificate of the building’s energy rating.

Acquiring an EPC from the Spanish government is going to cost you around €300, however if you do not comply with the conditions, the government can fine you heavily and it may well end up costing you a lot more than you initially thought. See more information in the previous article...

Click for a sample EPC to view>>>

http://www.idae.es/PFCEE/certificacion_edificios.html is the Gov site dealing with it.

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Energy certificates now required in Spain for properties for sale or rent-March 2013

...WARNING-Do you even realise that nobody needs these certificates till they are approved by the goverment…anything else is just a waste of money!!!

Many websites state that the certificates will be needed by the 1st of June.. at todays date 22-03-2013 the law hasn't even been approved…hence nobody needs it…let this be a warning to people seeing this post. DONT LET COWBOYS CHEAT YOU OUT OF YOUR MONEY and get your certificates once the law has been aproved by a reputable company...

From April onwards an energy certificate will be required to sell or rent homes in Spain.

Those who sell or rent a house built before 2007 will need a mandatory energy performance certificate. According to the Ministry of Industry, the royal draft decree will be approved this month but will allow a period of adjustment of two months before this becomes law in April 2013.

This is yet another requirement that comes from Europe and was expected to be adopted before 1st January this month. The industry ministry said that if this draft was not approved by the deadline, Spain would probably face a penalty from Europe.

Once the new law is enforced all owners who wish to sell or rent their homes must have available to the buyer and / or the tenant this “energy certificate”. Protected buildings and monuments will be excluded, as well as places of worship or residential buildings that are subject to a lease for less than four months a year.

Therefore, Energy Performance Certificates or as they are properly called, Certificado de Eficiencia Energética (CEE), are documents which will show how energy efficient your home is displayed as a rating from A to G. Much like the stickers you see on things such as fridge freezers, washing machines or air conditioning units, it gives the property a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’, where ‘A’ is the most efficient and ‘G’ is the least efficient.

Who Needs an Energy Performance Certificate in Spain?

According to the Royal Decree, Energy Performance Certificate shall be required in all contracts of sale or rental from June 1, 2013.

Will I be able to rent or sell my house without an EPC in Spain?

No after 1st June 2013 you will be necessary by Royal Decree to provide your Energy Performance Certificate when your property is for sale or rent. The Notary will need the Spanish Energy Certificate to complete the sale. If you do not have one not only can the sale be cancelled, but any outstanding fines incurred for not having the EPC in Spain can be charged once you have the Certificate in place and the sale completes.

When will this come into effect?

The Royal Decree which will formalize this is due to come into effect on the 1st June 2013. You will be expected to comply as soon as possible after this date. For properties currently for sale or rent this means you will have 7 days from 1st June 2013 to apply for your certificate. If you have applied and can show you have applied within the 7 days you will have an extended period of 21 days giving a total of 28 days after which you need the certificate. For properties new to the market whether for sale or rent you will have to have the certificate in place before your property can be advertised

Who has the authority to issue the Energy certificate in Spain?

A valid EEC must be issued by an architect, engineer, or a qualified technician who is authorised to undertake building projects and thermal installations for buildings. The individual will have completed a special government training course on Existing Building Energy Certification, and be trained in the software designed to issue the certificate. They will belong to an official provincial association (colegio oficial) and have a member number.

Why have Energy Performance Certificates been introduced?

The EPC has its roots in the Kyoto Protocol which was a worldwide initiative started in 1997 to address the issue of Greenhouse gases. Since then the European Union have formulated the European Directive for the Energy Performance of Buildings, which applies to all member states with a clearly defined timetable of the measures we must introduce. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a certificate which demonstrates the energy rating of a building. It forms part of the 'Energy Performance of Buildings Directive' (EPBD)

How is the rating on my EPC in Spain worked out?

The assessor will need to visit the property to carry out a building survey. The survey involves an assessment of the type and age of the property, building materials that are used, windows and insulation. The energy efficiency of the building is then assessed taking into account the energy consumption considered necessary to meet the energy demand of the building under normal conditions, which includes the energy consumed in heating, refrigeration, ventilation, lighting and the production of hot water. The assessor will also need to see a copy of a SUMA bill and the Escritura or Simpla to extract some information about the property and the owner. The referencia catastral (reference number of the Catastro) must be taken to issue the EEC, it normally appears on the SUMA bill.

Do I need an EPC in Spain for holiday rentals?

In general for short term lets of under four months you do not need an Energy Performance Certificate in Spain, however for holiday lets in general you do need an Energy Performance Certificate. For short term or holiday rentals the law states that you do not need an Energy Performance Certificate for rents under 4 months if during the rental period the energy used in the property is less than 25% of the normal annual energy consumption.  The 4 month rental period can be made up of multiple short lets or one longer let. For example if you let your property for four months, and for the rest of the year you live there yourself, then the energy consumption is more or less constant for the whole year. In this case you do not need an EPC in Spain.                But........

If you let your property for holidays during the summer months and then use it yourself for a few weeks during the year, but after this it is left empty, then you would need an EPC in Spain. This is because during the periods the property is empty the energy usage is minimal, or in other words the main energy usage is when your renters are at the property.

Basically if your renters use more energy during a year than you do then you need an Energy Performance Certificate in Spain.

What if I rent my property out through an agent?

The legal responsibility rests with the owner of the property, but the owner can arrange with the letting/managing agent to carry out these responsibilities. However, responsibility for compliance would still remain with the landlord. An agent will not be legally allowed to offer your property for rent or sale without a certificate. If you already have a tenant in your property who has a long term contract then you do not need an Energy Performance Certificate in Spain (EPCinSPAIN) until that tenant leaves and you advertise for a new tenant.  When you advertise for a new tenant you need to have an Energy Certificate to present to potential renters. If you or your marketing agents fail to provide the new tenant with the information on the Energy Certificate in Spain then you risk your tenancy contract becoming void. Both you and your agent may also face fines from the government, and the possibility of being sued by the tenant for compensation.

Can I advertise my property without an Energy certificate after June 1?

No. The royal decree makes it clear that the energy label must accompany any commercial activity performed to sell or rent the property. The breach of this law is considered an infringement in defence of consumers and users, and infringement on certification of the energy performance of buildings shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of General Law on Protection of Consumers and Users approved by Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of November 16.

According to the amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, restoration and renovation of properties:

- If you sell or rent a property for more than four months without giving the certificate, would be a serious offense, a fine of 600 to 1,000 euros.

- If you give a false certificate, or with information that does not fit reality, the offense is very serious, and punishment could reach 6,000 euros.

- Should not be displayed in the sale or rental ads, the penalty will be up to 300 euros for minor offense.


How Long is The Energy Performance Certificate valid for in Spain?

The certificate is valid for 10 years.

What if I have a low rating and then make changes to my property in Spain?

This simply indicates your home could be more energy efficient. During the inspection a number of recommendations to improve its energy efficiency will be identified (in the recommendation report which should accompany the EPC). Implementation of these could not only increase your rating and reduce carbon emissions, but also save money on energy bills. However, it is up to you whether you implement the recommendations or not; the Regulations do not impose a legal duty on you to do so. You can have your property re assessed at any time during the period your certificate.

What are the benefits to me as a seller or landlord?

A higher energy rating should make a building with a higher rating more marketable than one with a lower rating. The rating indicates to a prospective buyer or tenant how energy efficient your building is and a more energy efficient building is less costly to run. Also, the recommendation report should also provide information that may help to reduce the running cost of the property even further.

The EPC is really worth getting, not only will you save money by complying with the laws, but you could also save money in the long term if you try to improve your EPC score, for example, if you buy efficient insulation for your home you could save a lot of money on heating. Not only this but you should also make sure that you have an EPC when selling or renting to make sure that you keep then contract within the law. 


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31st March 2013 Asset Filing Deadline

The potential cost of non-disclosure of overseas assets by Spanish tax resident expats could be up to 130% of the value of the assets themselves.

Any assets held overseas should be considered and where the value of these exceed 50,000 Euros in one asset class, they need to be declared by 31st March 2013 to avoid the potential tax and penalties, which the Spanish authorities could levy.

Take an undisclosed investment of 200,000 Euros, the tax on this would amount to 52% = 104,000 Euros. However, the penalty could be a further 150% of the tax which is an additional 156,000 Euros so not only would the whole asset be lost, you would still owe the Hacienda 60,000 Euros – non-disclosure simply is not worth the risk!

These new rules took effect from 1st January 2013 with a requirement for non-Spanish assets to be declared between that date and 31st March 2013. Disclosure is necessary when the total value of an asset class exceeds 50,000 Euros, so for example, if you have 3 bank accounts offshore, each of which have a balance of 20,000 Euros, don’t be fooled into thinking you are below the threshold because you are not. These are all assets held in the same asset class and are aggregated
for disclosure purposes and you will need to provide account numbers and details of the amounts held in each account as at 31st December 2012 or the average
balance over the last three months of 2012 if higher.

The different asset classes can broadly be identified as being cash on deposit, real estate, stocks & shares and collective investments. Be careful though, because if you are named as the beneficiary to any trusts, these amounts will also need to be declared because the Spanish legal system does not recognize trusts as having any legal status of their own and will look through the trust to see who the beneficiaries are.

The need to declare this information comes at a time when the Spanish tax authorities are seeking to tax Spanish tax residents on their worldwide income and to levy heavy fines when they discover that assets have not been disclosed. There is no time to delay with dealing with this matter and if you have not already done so, you should speak to your tax advisers in Spain to ensure that you are fully compliant with these rules.

With these new requirements, you should also focus your attention on whether your investments are held in the most appropriate way. For example, if you have money on deposit, which you do not need on a regular basis, either for capital or income, then the interest that you earn as a Spanish tax resident, should be declared and tax paid on it. However, by investing in a smarter way, you can avoid the need to pay any tax until such time as you draw down some of the money.

This is not complicated financial planning but simply using some tried and tested, Spanish tax compliant investment vehicles, which are designed to defer tax until you make a withdrawal.

BRITISH EMBASSY LATEST ON THE SUBJECT

The updated guidance says:

“Britain has a double taxation agreement with Spain to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. In accordance with Spanish and international law, all residents in Spain (nationals and non-nationals alike) are required to declare assets or groups of assets held outside Spain. Assets may include bank accounts, securities, rights, insurance, annuities, property, etc and the declaration is a separate exercise to the annual tax return.

“To reinforce this obligation, and as part of the Spanish Government’s recent ant-fraud law, the Government on 15 November 2012 passed a Royal Decree that requires all residents in Spain to file an annual informative declaration of assets held overseas by 31 March each year. Exceptionally for 2012 declarations, the deadline is 30 April 2013.

“Severe penalties for incorrect, incomplete or late reporting can be incurred and the legislation also means that criminal charges can be brought in the case of non-compliance. The requirement and potential penalties are in line with standard international tax practice.

“Taxation is a complex issue and it is strongly recommended that professional advice is sought. The English language page of the Spanish Tax Authority website can be found here.”

The updated guidance is intended to remind British residents in Spain of their existing tax obligations. Taxation is a complex issue and the British Embassy and British Consulates are unable to assist with any personal enquiries or provide any further detailed information about taxation in Spain. British residents requiring further help should seek professional tax advice.

 

 

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CÉDULA de Habitabilidad Update May 2012


Bon día to all, and hope you are coping with the mad Spring weather! Sunshine, rain, wind, hail and sometimes even snow, Costa Dorada old-timers will know that at this time of year, you can expect anything.
This Spring finally sees a welcome and long overdue change to the Catalan law that governs the issue of the cédula de habitabilidad, the habitation/occupancy certificate.
When a property is described at the Land Registry as a dwelling —for rural-zoned properties this includes viviendas, casas, casas de campo, casitas de campo and masias— the cédula is essential for the sale. It’s generally needed for connecting mains services, and is often a requirement for a mortgage.
Obtaining one for an urban-zoned apartamento or townhouse is usually simple. The property needs to be on the Land Registry and the Catastro tax register, and an architect or aparejador (surveyor/technical architect) has to certify that it is habitable.
However, since the end of 2009, getting the cédula for rural-zoned dwellings has become problematic to say the least. As owners of rural dwellings often don’t have original building licences and end-of-work certificates, issue has effectively been limited to houses built before 1984.
A key requirement has been a certificate from the local council, certifying —among other points— that the house had a licence for a dwelling (unusual in rural areas) or was already a dwelling before 1984. While some ajuntaments seemed to have no problem certifying the last point, others have refused to.
As a consequence, many homeowners who bought houses that were correctly registered, with full assurances from their lawyers and notary, have been unable to sell their properties.
Fortunately, as of this April this has now changed. The cédula de habitabilidad has reverted to its sole original function: to certify that a property is habitable and fit for occupation.

What are the main changes?

  1. The municipal certificate is no longer required.
  2. It is now possible to get a cédula for rural-zoned houses built since 1984, without having to produce building licences and end-of-work certificates. In these cases, the cédula will include a note stating ‘this document guarantees habitability but not legality’*, but it will be perfectly valid for selling the property and connecting services.
  3. It is necessary to certify the age of the house. This can be done via the existing Land Registry or Catastro description, or if this is not available or is unclear, via a visado-stamped certificate from an architect or aparejador.

* In any case, prospective buyers usually verify legality independently.    
These changes have just come into effect, and it may take time for the application and issue system to run smoothly. But it looks like for the majority of rural home owners in Catalonia, the end of the cédula nightmare is finally in sight.
By the way, I still have buyers looking for fincas with casitas/casas de campo of 60m2 or more to refurbish but not in ruins, with nice views and preferably priced below 60.000 Euros, in the l’Ametlla-El Perelló-l’Ampolla area. Feel free to email me at [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

 

 

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Basic Spanish property terms explained, part I- April 2012

Hello again, hope you all well and enjoying the deliciously mild weather now spring is on the way. All we need now is some rain —this has been the driest winter on record for many years— and the property market to pick up a bit!
If you are selling or buying a property in Catalonia, getting to grips with the region’s confusing regulations and Byzantine bureaucracy can be a major challenge, especially where rural properties are concerned.
Even with a good command of the language the terminology can be daunting. So here are a few of the more common Spanish terms you’re likely to find.
Arras deposit contract
Contract often used to secure the sale-purchase of a property by paying a deposit or ‘arras’, which usually becomes part of the purchase price.
Perhaps the most common is the Arras Penitenciales contract: if the buyer pulls out he or she loses the deposit paid, while if the seller pulls out, he or she returns double the deposit. This gives both buyer and seller a way out of the contract, albeit an expensive one.
In contrast the less used Arras Confirmatorias and Arras Penales contracts do not, and are used in slightly different ways to bind buyer and seller to the sale-purchase agreement.
BASE
Government agency that collects local taxes for many towns and villages (some do their own) in Tarragona province, see its English info page at www.base.cat.
Taxes collected include the annual vehicle tax and ‘IBI’, the municipal rates paid on property. For the latter it works it works closely with the Catastro.
Catastro
A part of Hacienda, the Spanish treasury, the Catastro records and describes rural, residential and business land and properties for tax purposes. Important: while it can provide proof that a building exists, it does not guarantee that it was built legally!
Cédula de habitabilidad
Habitation/occupation certificate that verifies that a property is fit for habitation. In Catalonia, issued by the local Habitatge department of the Generalitat, and essential for buying, selling and mortgaging any property registered as a dwelling.
Derrama
In co-owner community charges, a one-off surcharge, typically for items like shared pool or lift repairs. Not a word you want to hear often.
Escritura de compraventa
Public deed of sale-purchase, signed and authorized by a Spanish Notary Public. Once signed, the details of the property are registered at the land registry—the Registro de la Propiedad.
Euribor
Interest rate at which prime banks in the Eurozone lend each other money on a one-year deposit and the official reference index on which most Spanish mortgages are based. ‘Euribor+1’ is the Euribor index plus one per cent.
Finca
In its strictest sense, any property, whether it has land or not. Often used to mean a finca rústica —a rural property or estate— and refers to the whole property, regardless of whether it has a house.
Gravamen, carga
An encumbrance or charge on a property, for example a mortgage. Libre de cargas = free of charges.
Gastos
Costs or expenses. Gastos de compraventa are the costs paid by the buyer: ITP or IVA tax, notary fees and Land registry charges. The municipal plusvalía tax on residential property is paid by the seller.
Hipoteca, préstamo
Mortgage, loan.
Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI)
Municipal property tax, collected every year or six months, based on a value assigned by the Catastro.
Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales (ITP)
Transfer tax paid when a resale property is sold, currently 8% in Catalonia. IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido) of 4% is paid when a new-build property is sold.
Inmueble
‘Non-movable asset’, such as land, buildings and all types of properties.
Junta de propietarios
Board of propietors, co-owners’ association. Apartment blocks and residential complexes with shared areas have to establish a board of propietors; co-owners usually take turns to be president on a yearly rotation basis. Larger blocks and complexes are run by a specialist administrador de fincas.
Legalizar
Literally, to legalize, but often used to mean that a building has been declared at the Land Registry and Catastro. A true legalización of a house involves submitting full architect’s plans to obtain a retrospective building licence. Few rural properties have been legalized in this way.
Licencia de primera ocupación
First-occupation certificate of a new building, issued by the local council.
Licencia municipal de obras
Municipal building licence, should be duly signed and stamped by the local council.
I’ll be covering M-Z at a later date. As always, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.

CÉDULA DE HABITABILIDAD – changes imminent
Finally, Catalonia’s autonomous parliament has passed the part of the Llei d’Omnibus law that affects the Cédula de Habitabilidad.
The Habitatge department is still working out exactly how the changes will be applied in practice and should issue guidelines in the next few weeks — hopefully, in time for next month’s article.
To qualify for a cédula your house must be correctly registered on the land registry and the Catastro tax register, so allow plenty of time if you need to do this. I will be happy to organise the whole process, so do contact me for a no-obligation consultation.
This month I have buyers looking for fincas with casitas/casas de campo of 60m2 or more to refurbish but not in ruins, with nice views and preferably priced below 60.000 Euros, in the l’Ametlla-El Perelló-l’Ampolla area. Feel free to email me at [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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Five step plan to help sell your property in 2012

Five-step plan to help sell your property in 2012
Hello again and salutacions to everyone. Hopefully, by the time you read this the cold snap will have passed, the almond trees will be in blossom, and I will be doing viewings without an icy wind and sheets of ice on the pool!
At the moment, we’re still seeing healthy interest from buyers from Holland, Switzerland, France and Belgium, while UK buyers are making a tentative comeback, encouraged by an improved exchange rate.
Needless to say, with so many homes in Spain for sale and more coming on the market every week, anyone looking is spoilt for choice. Gone are the days when buyers would hesitate before making an ultra-low offer, so make the most of your property and don’t give away excuses for buyers to negotiate price reductions.
Remember, correct preparation is essential, so the sooner you get started the better.

declutter1. Choose the right agency
Choose an agent that speaks at least Spanish and English, with experience in selling to both markets, and who can issue valid IVA (VAT) invoices to help reduce capital gains tax. He or she should also be able to clearly identify most legal or planning issues that could complicate a sale.

2. Get documentation in order
Buyers are now better informed than ever. Most non-Spanish purchasers instruct a lawyer and Spanish buyers will have their bank check documentation, so it is vital that your property’s documentation is in order.
If you own a rural property, you’ll need to know if and how the house is registered at the Registro de la Propiedad —the Land Registry— and on the Catastro, the Spanish tax office’s property register.
If it isn’t, you will need to know what the registration options are and what is needed. If it is, you’ll need to know if you’ll require a cédula de habitabilidad (habitation certificate) in order to sell.
All these factors directly affect how much you can ask for your finca. Registration can take months, so get everything checked early on — few things are as frustrating as losing or delaying a sale because your documentation wasn’t in order.

3. Set a realistic asking price
Prices are still falling, so ask your agent for a ‘no-punches-pulled’ opinion of how much your property is really likely to sell for.
It’s hard to stress the importance of getting the asking price right from the start. In my experience, gradually lowering a price that is way too high is counter-productive and can lead to a property becoming ‘over-exposed’.

well presented4. Prepare your property for sale
Unless you are selling an un-refurbished property, it’s reasonable for a buyer to expect that a property will be sold with everything working and in good order.
Savvy buyers have surveys organised and carefully inspect and list any work needed before the deposit contract stage, making the repairs a condition for the completion of sale.
But most don’t, so avoid problems by having repairs done and inform your agent of any known or suspected defects.
Rural access tracks can be a deal breaker —many buyers plan to use rural properties as holiday homes and/or tourist rentals— so consider improving them if necessary.
It’s important to avoid spending too much money though, so ask your agent what’s worth doing, and keep it simple.

5. Maximise your property’s appeal
First impressions count. Entrances, drives, facades and the area around the house are the first thing prospective buyers see, so they must be neat and well presented. A freshly painted façade and front door or a smart ceramic plant pot can make a huge difference.
Inside, repaint walls and ceilings in light, neutral colours if they aren’t already. If you can’t redecorate throughout, at least repair any paintwork that’s flaking or in poor condition, especially anything that could appear to be damp-related.
Solar/generator-powered country properties are often dimly lit, which often puts off buyers so consider updating light fittings. And when you have a viewing, remember to turn all lights on and open the blinds before buyers arrive.
Clear mantelpieces, windowsills, dressers and tables of unnecessary clutter. This can make rooms look bigger and focuses attention on your house, not your possessions. If possible, clear spare rooms of junk or at least put all the junk in one room.
And it sounds obvious, but dirty windows, dusty furniture, stale smells etc are a total turn-off for potential buyers. Get everything clean and sparkling, air your home before a viewing, and be sure to get rid of pet odours.
On the outside, be sure to keep the pool area, terrace and porch —the key ‘life style’ areas— well-maintained, smart and tidy.

Cédula changes: no news
In a previous article I wrote that getting the cédula certificate for rural properties could soon get a little easier.
The law is due to be modified to allow a simpler municipal certificate – an essential requirement for the cédula. While it is likely to be approved by the Catalan parliament soon, this still hasn’t happened… Will keep you posted.
Finally, right now I have buyers looking for fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and priced below 160.000 Euros, in the l’Ametlla-El Perelló-l’Ampolla area. Feel free to email me at [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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Catalonia property News Round-up Feb 2012

with cedulaHello, and a belated Bon Any Nou to everyone! How are those New Year resolutions going?
One man with an unenviable resolution list is Spain’s new president, Partido Popular leader Mariano Rajoy, who is now tackling the Herculean task of cleaning up the Spanish economy.
Unsurprisingly, his campaign promise not to raise taxes has swiftly been dropped. While IVA (VAT) is so far untouched, IRPF (income tax) and local IBI rates are both set to rise this month, in principle as a temporary measure for 2012 and 2013.

Municipal IBI rates to go up
The Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles is Spain’s equivalent to local rates. In Tarragona province it is usually collected by the BASE agency —some towns and villages collect it directly— and is paid yearly or every six months.
The government has passed a measure that allows local councils to raise IBI by 4% to 10%, depending on when rateable values were last revised. This is in addition to any increases that councils may have approved beforehand. Basura (rubbish collection) charges are also likely to rise.
Apparently, these increases will only apply to properties whose value is over the average for the municipal area. My guess is that many rural properties will not be greatly affected.
According to the Diari de Tarragona, IBI will not increase in Alcover, Almoster, Altafulla, Benissanet, Els Garidells, Garcia, La Secuita, Flix, Les Borges del Camp, Les Piles, Móra d’Ebre, Móra la Nova, Riudoms, Rodonyà, Sarral and Vila-rodona.
Elsewhere, some owners may see no or little change to their IBI bill, others will have to pay an extra 4-10%, while some house owners in towns where councils have also agreed their own rises could face paying an extra 20% or more.
These measures will apparently bring an extra and desperately-needed 918 million Euros into Spain’s municipal coffers — let’s hope it’s spent wisely.

el perello fincaBack again: tax relief on main residences
As promised, the Government has reinstated the tax deduction for acquiring a primary residence in Spain. At the end of 2010 the former government restricted it to those earning under 24.000 Euros a year, causing a rush to complete property sales by the end of the year.
The unrestricted tax deduction applies to Spanish nationals and residents and is backdated, good news if you qualify and bought a property in 2011.
As expected, the Government is to keep IVA tax on the sale of Spanish new-build primary residences at the superreducido rate of 4%, and plans to apply it to second homes too. Whether this will help stimulate Spain’s property market remains to be seen…

Mortgages - mission impossible?
Until about a year ago, around 40% of my sales were to Spanish clients, mainly from the Barcelona area. While many of these would-be buyers have now put off buying because they are uncertain about their economic future, lack of mortgage funding is a key obstacle.
For non-Spanish buyers who are not residents, getting a loan from a Spanish bank is harder still. In the current climate it’s vital not to lose a potential buyer if there is even a small chance of getting finance.
Contacting a whole series of Spanish banks can be a frustrating and time-consuming business though, so when recently I found a handy resource that compares Spanish mortgages, I thought I’d share it with you.
Bankimia (www.bankimia.com) is an easy-to-use, independent website that compares all kinds of different mortgages in Spain, along with other loans and financial products. At the moment it’s Spanish only, but you can easily translate it at http://translate.google.com.
Mortgages for rural properties are notoriously difficult to obtain, especially for non-residents, so if you need a mortgage or are selling to a buyer who is struggling to get one, why not use my specialist brokers? They do the searching for you, and you only pay their fee if and when they find a mortgage.
Note that for rural fincas to qualify the house must be correctly registered and have a cédula de habitabilidad, which brings me to…

Cédula changes: still waiting…
In my last article I wrote that getting a cédula (occupancy certificate) for rural properties in the Terres de l’Ebre area could soon get a little easier.
The law is set to be modified to allow a simpler municipal certificate – an essential requirement for the cédula. This seems likely to be approved by the Catalan parliament and could come into effect in the next few months.
To qualify for a cédula your house must be correctly registered on the land registry and the Catastro tax register, allow plenty of time if you need to do this. I will be happy to organise the whole process, so do contact me for a no-obligation consultation.
Finally, if you are thinking of selling your house I have buyers looking for realistically-priced fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and less than 20 minutes from the coast: email me at [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal or tax advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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Catalonia Property News Round -Dec 2011

Hello again and thanks to everyone who's asked if I'm still around and OK — it's been a while since I've found time to write!
By the time you read this, the delicious autumn sunshine will probably be over and Spain could well have a new presidente. If you follow Spanish politics at all, you'll know that centre-right Partido Popular leader Mariano Rajoy is widely expected to win by an ample majority.

finca for saleHow could this affect you in property terms?
One likely change is the return of the tax deduction for acquiring a primary residence in Spain. At the end of 2010, Rodríguez Zapatero's PSOE government restricted the deduction to those earning under 24.000 Euros a year, causing a rush to complete property sales by the end of the year.
Rajoy has said that if his party wins, he will remove the restriction and backdate the tax break for those who bought properties during 2011. This affects Spanish nationals and fiscal residents of Spain.
IVA (VAT) tax on the sale of Spanish new-build properties is likely to stay at the superreducido rate of 4% for some time. However, it seems inevitable that IVA on other products and services will rise — whoever wins.
Another Partido Popular proposal is tax reductions for owners who need to let their properties and then rent elsewhere in Spain for work reasons.
The PP also want to make rental contracts more flexible, providing better legal security for landlords and tenants and speeding up the legal resolution process for conflicts.
With regard to the ever-increasing number of property repossessions, if elected, they pledge to introduce online property auctions and to increase the percentage of the valuation price for which a repossessed home can be sold.
Unsurprisingly, and despite growing calls for its introduction, the Partido Popular has no plans to force Spanish banks to offer dación en pago to struggling mortgage debtors. This is the process —common in the US— whereby a borrower gives the keys back to the lender, who then discharges the borrower from the whole debt.
Whoever wins, let's hope there is some hope on the horizon for Spain's many distressed property owners.

Proposed quality certificate for new properties
Generalitat housing minister Lluís Recoder has announced that Catalonia will introduce 'in the near future' a 'guarantee of quality' stamp for new-build properties, with a view to reassuring and encouraging overseas buyers.
According to the Minister, overseas buyers have been petitioning for legal and consumer assurances and guarantees that properties meet town planning and construction-quality regulations.
Better late than never I suppose. It's a shame that this kind of guarantee is probably only practical for new-build properties and not resale and rural ones…

with cedulaCédula de habitabilidad
Since I last wrote the process for getting the cédula (occupancy certificate) for rural properties in the Terres de l'Ebre area seems to have remained much the same:
The house needs to be registered in a certain way at the Registro de la Propiedad and on the Catastro tax register. An architect or aparejador (technical architect) has to certify that the building is habitable. And crucially, the local council has to issue a municipal certificate; some of the key points it has to certify are:
- that there are no demolition orders or fines for planning offences
- the house is a dwelling
- it was originally built with a licence for a dwelling (unusual in rural areas), or that it was a dwelling before 1984
Some ajuntaments seem to have no problem certifying the last point, but others either can't – or won't.
But there are indications that the Generalitat finally plans to ease this problem, by modifying the law to allow a simpler municipal certificate. If approved by Catalonia's autonomous parliament, the modification could come into effect early next year.
If they do, expect a lengthy period while the local administration work out just how to apply the changes.
We may also see more cédula applications, so whether you are thinking of selling soon or just want peace of mind, now is the time to get your paperwork in order in case you do qualify.
Remember that to apply for a cédula your house has to be correctly registered on the land registry and on the Catastro tax register. I will be happy to organise this so please feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.
As always, I love to hear your comments and feedback. Right now I have Spanish and European clients looking for realistically-priced fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and less than 20 minutes from the coast, so please email me at [email protected] if you are thinking of selling.
I will be happy to help organise the cédula application if you qualify for one or find an alternative route-to-sale if you don't. Look forward to hearing from you!

Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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The British Consular Network, Spain -
Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team
Nov 2011

THINKING AHEAD
On 6th April 2010, the rules surrounding the UK State Pension changed. You may know that the UK State Pension Age for women has started to gradually increase since the Pension Reform Act came into force last year. However, did you know that there are also other changes that could affect you and your UK pension? If you have not yet reached UK State Pension age, you should be aware of the following:
- Men and women now only need 30 qualifying years of UK National Insurance contributions to get a full basic UK State Pension - Men and women now only need 1 qualifying year of National Insurance contributions to get some UK State Pension - Parents and carers, past and present, may be given new National Insurance credits that will count towards a UK State Pension. For full details on all the changes, and how they could affect you, see www.direct.gov.uk.

WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
Although the PBHT can help customers in many ways, Martyn, PBHT Officer in Alicante, pointed out last month that there are some questions we cannot answer as we do not have the expertise to do so. One such topic is tax. However, our website of the month for October, www.hmrc.gov.uk, might be able to help where PBHT can't. And it's not just tax that is covered. National Insurance numbers, National Insurance contribution records, paying voluntary contributions… It's all there, so why not take a look.

CONSULAR BIRTH REGISTRATIONS
Did you know that if a British child is born in Spain, the parents can choose to register the birth of the child in the
Consular Birth Register in Madrid? It's important to be aware that, although you must register the birth with the Spanish authorities, there is no obligation to register it in the Consulate, and it won't affect the child's eligibility for a British passport which you, as parents, can apply for at any time. However, many do choose to register. Benefits include the possibility of purchasing a British-style Consular registration certificate and having a permanent record of the birth held at the General Register Office in the UK. Full details on how to apply, documents required and fees can be found at: http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-forbritish-nationals/living-in-spain/births-deaths-marriages/birth-registration

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Costalingua language academy Oct 2011

costalingua

Costalingua S.A. is not only the new Language Academy in L'Hospitalet de l'Infant; Costalingua also lets bungalows at La Margarita, directly on the beach in L'Hospitalet's Playa Arenal. Among other things, Costalingua offers a combination of beach holidays and Spanish courses for adults. Of course, you can also take a language course or rent a bungalow separately. Costalingua is managed by the joint owners, Dr. Annalisa Rei and Stefan Auer.

...... "Our goal is to offer you a personalized and inspiring holiday experience, and we are personally committed to ensuring the highest quality, both in our bungalows and in our language courses.
We are a professional couple from Switzerland in our mid-forties, with many years of experience in business and education. We both come from the business world, having spent many years working in executive positions in large multinational organizations. Both of us are fluent in several languages (German, English, Italian, Spanish, French) and have lived and worked in different countries. We also have long-standing ties to Spain. Since we love the lifestyle of the Costa Dorada we decided to make it our home.
For the language academy this means that we are committed to providing top quality courses that focus on your individual learning objectives. We want you to succeed in communicating, be it to further your business or to enrich your personal relations!"......www.costalingua.biz

costalinguaLearn Spanish the fun way! Speaking Spanish will enable you to immerse yourself in the local culture and communicate more effectively for business and for personal networking. You can benefit from our adult group classes, courses specialising on communication for the tourism industry, classes for retired persons etc. As you know, the local authorities only offer Catalan, which is quite difficult to study if you don't have basic Spanish.
Lessons take place in small groups of max. 8 persons, so as to offer you both the benefit of personalized attention and plenty of speaking opportunities. Our methods are motivating and interactive, unlike other language academies we don't focus exclusively on grammar but rather on conversation for real life. You will feel at ease and will speak freely, building on what you already know. Our experienced native teachers will encourage and motivate you, helping you to take your communication skills to the next level.

costalinguaBeside Spanish, we also offer courses in four other languages, French, German, Russian, and English.
Our classrooms are air-conditioned, bright and newly equipped. We also provide multi-media devices and internet access. But above all, we want to activate your communication abilities inside and outside of the classroom!

We look forward to welcoming you at Costalingua Language Academy –
To find out more, call us, on 977 822 465, visit us on the internet on www.costalingua.biz, or simply drop by our school in L'Hospitalet de l'Infant (C. Llastres,1 - opposite Hotel Sancho). Or send us an Email on
[email protected]
We look forward to seeing you soon!


costalingua

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The British Consular Network, Spain -
Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team

ACCEPTANCE OF THE EHIC
As we have highlighted previously, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is designed to cover a person for necessary treatment in a public hospital whilst they are on a temporary stay in another country.
Unfortunately, there have been cases in Spain in which a person has been asked to pay a deposit and/or sign a payment agreement at a public hospital despite producing a valid EHIC. In these cases the hospital wished to charge the cost of treatment back to the persons travel insurance, rather than accepting the EHIC.
While taking out travel insurance is important, private medical insurance should not take precedence over the EHIC, providing the card is valid and being used in the correct way. If you, or someone you know, has had their EHIC refused at a public Spanish hospital, it may be possible to apply for a refund of any costs incurred via the Overseas Healthcare Team who can be contacted on 0044 191 218 1999.

eu your europeWEBSITE OF THE MONTH
http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm
Our website of the month for September really has something for everyone. The Your Europe section of the European Commission (EC) website is specifically for those who are working, living and travelling within the EU. For example, if you want to know more about social security and tax matters as a worker in another EU country, or are looking for a job abroad, see the "Work‟ section. Or perhaps you want to know more about accessing healthcare whilst living or travelling in Europe? There's a great healthcare section too! And while you‟re on the internet, why not also browse the rest of the EC website – the amount of useful information, including specific information for Spain, may surprise you!

KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR PASSPORT
Do you know where your passport is right now? For the majority, the answer is probably yes. But if the question was 'Do you know when your passport expires?' The positive responses would probably drop rapidly.
'Being aware of when your passport expires is becoming increasingly important', says Andy Hamilton, Head of the Regional Passport Centre in Madrid. 'If you don't have a valid passport, and need to travel urgently, you'll have to pay for an emergency passport, which is an expense most of us could do without. We understand that it's not always easy or convenient to send your passport in to be renewed at the exact point it expires, which is why people can send in their renewal application any time in the 9 months before without losing any validity'.
'Over the next couple of years, customers will see some changes to the current passport service. We're working toward a single system where all persons can apply directly to the UK, something our customers tell us they want.
During this period of transition, keeping an eye on when your passport expires will be really important to ensure you're not unduly inconvenienced'. More information on the upcoming changes can be found on our website, http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk.

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Driving in Spain and driving licences in Spain Aug 2011

eu driving licenceDRIVING LICENCES
The law relating to driving licences, as with many laws in Spain, is not always fully understood or implemented, even by the authorities. In September 2004, the law was effectively changed as the result of a decision handed down by the European Court of Justice (it has still to be written in the Statute Book). It was previously the case that foreign EU licences had to be changed for Spanish ones if you took out residencia (or legally work in Spain), and drove a Spanish registered car, or the licence had to be registered if you stayed over three months or bought a Spanish plated car, but did not live here. Spain was, in fact, in contravention of the EU Directive on this subject. Although yet to be written in the statute book, the judgement means that it is virtually effective now. The new law means that your EU foreign licence (credit card type,with the ring of stars) is legal to use in Spain (or anywhere in the EU) whether you are a visitor or live here as your principal place of residence. However, you have to comply with the Laws in Spain where the licence will expire according to Spanish Laws.

Anyone holding a Spanish drivers' licence must renew the document according to the following schedule:
From the time you receive your licence until you turn 45 years old, you must renew every 10 years
From the ages of 45 to 70, you must renew every 5 years
From the age of 70, you must renew every 2 years
Renewal involves paying a fee, of course, and passing physical and "psico-tecnico" exams. The first is often nothing more than a formality, while the second involves a machine similar to a video game.

KEEPING YOUR UK LICENCE.

The hard truth is, with a UK issued Euro style licence the Euro Laws state you may use it in any Member Country, but it is valid under the same conditions as that Country.

That means in Spain you must take the same Medical Examination as Spaniards, and carry the proof in the vehicle.

The British Consulate suggests that it is advisable to exchange UK licences for Spanish ones, which are also valid for visits to the UK. In England the DVLA will not put a non-British address on a replacement licence, nor send one out of the country. Therefore, if a British licence is only registered with Spanish authorities and is lost or stolen, a replacement cannot be obtained from the UK, and Spanish authorities will not be able to replace one they did not issue. Another interesting point is when your UK licence requires a new photo, (every 10 years), you are committing an offence if you apply for the UK licence if you do not reside there.

Failure to do so will result in you licence being considered as expired, along with your Spanish Insurance Company likely refusing to pay any damages or legal bills.
Both the UK and Spanish Driving Licence authorities do have links into each others systems, so more and more information is being shared nowadays!!!

EXCHANGING YOUR UK LICENCE FOR A SPANISH ONE.

You can exchange your UK euro licence for a Spanish version, proof of medical is not always requested, but this is only because the Trafico presume the UK requires the same type of medical checks, so they assume you must have a current one.
Documents required:
-Your valid UK or EU driving licence
-Your NIE certificate
-Your Residencia paperwork I suggest you show your Empadronamiento as it contains house address and NIE details.
-A photocopy of both sides of the driving licence id photograph card
-Your passport and one photocopy
-Two passport photographs 32 x 26mm in colour
This process may vary slightly from town to town at your local Trafico, but the above documents should cover all variations. When you have all of these documents the proceedure is usually very quick and simple. Cost 26,60€

RENEWAL OF YOUR SPANISH LICENCE.

You can now renew your driver's licence from the same centre as you go for your medical, without having to go to Trafico. You can renew up to three months before the expiration date. To be able to continue driving you will keep the old driver's licence with a temporary permit, which the Centre will issue, valid for three months while the new one is being processed. About three months later you will receive the new licence "credit card type."

A list of Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores autorizado can be found on these to sites:

http://www.dgt.es/portal/es/oficina_virtual/dir_telefonos/centros_rec_conductores/
http://www.reconocimientomedico.net/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=search&Itemid=109

Most towns have several approved medical centres but are often only open limited hours and days for the test and you have to queue and wait your turn. The main one in Reus though is open every day and in the morning it is extremely quiet.
CENTRO MÉDICO BAIX CAMP
C/ Metge Fortuny, 2, 2º-1ª
Near the Guadi Centre
43201 REUS (Tarragona)
Lunes a Viernes mañanas de 9 a 13 tardes de 16 a 20
Sábados mañanas de 11 a 12
Teléfono: 977 34 46 78 http://www.cmbc.es/

DOCUMENTS TO BRING TO THE ABOVE CENTRE:
-Driving license
-DNI (NIE, passport or residence certificate)
-Photograph optional as they can take it for you.
Total charge 75 euros (22,40 being for the licence renewal)
Documentation possibly required and advised by Trafico that you may need for other centres:
-The licence to be renewed
-Photocopy (and original) of a Spanish identity, residence permit (residencia) or a copy of the passport along with the NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjer)
-Proof of address in Spain (empadronamiento) dated within 3 months. 2 recent photographs (32 x 25 mm).
The process.
The first step is show details above to receptionist and wait your turn, the medical staff will complete the application form; a word of warning if your address is in the campo and you give them a post box address for it to be sent to the computer program they use will not accept it unless you can provide a street address for the post office.
You will then go in to take eye sight test, normal system of reading letters on a card. In a darken room, a bright light will flash to assimilate being dazzled by car head lights and you will be asked to identify the difference between red, green and amber lights. You will be asked if you have medical issues and if on medication etc.
You will have a blood pressure test, and be asked if your hearing is ok.
Special Info for drivers who require glasses: If you require glasses to pass the test, the information is recorded on your medical certificate. The Trafico will require that you must wear glasses when you drive and also carry a spare pair in the car. Yes these are offences if stopped and checked!
Then you go in a different room to be asked if you suffer from mental illness, and then the exciting bit comes, the Reaction Test.
This is weird at first, you have two control levers that move a left and right indicator on a screen display. You have to keep the markers in between two road strips. These strips move at a steady speed, but each one moves separately in curves and zig zag movements. The machine beeps if you come off the tracks. Relax and watch both markers and you will be fine.. Lastly comes the speed judgment test where you watch a block travel along several times at different speeds and you must judge when it disappears behind a wall when it will reach the end.
You then pay and get your original licence back with the approval paper inside valid for 3 months to allow for your renewal licence to arrive. They say it takes about a month.

 

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Catalonia property news round-up | Selling and staging tips July 2011

vacationHello again, hope you're all enjoying this delicious, early-summer weather! If you've been following the news in Catalonia at all you may have heard about the controversial 'Llei Omnibus' law, a large batch of measures that could radically change many of Catalonia's autonomous laws.
Currently being debated by the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, it's intended to simplify bureaucracy, slash red tape and stimulate and liberalise Catalonia's ravaged economy. I've skimmed through some online summaries and picked out a few of the main points:

Proposed property law changes
Drastic reduction of the environmental studies and reports currently needed to authorise new housing and other developments.
Owners of protected housing apartments to have the right to acquire a second property.
Radical changes to the current sole registry for protected housing —giving more power to individual promoters— plus changes to allocation procedures and quotas.
Abolition of the controversial law that in theory —never put into practice— can force owners to rent vacant flats.
Promoters would no longer need to provide a lift in smaller multi-apartment blocks.
As far as I know, no mention of any changes relating to the cédula de habitabilidad…

Fewer funds for neighbourhood improvements
The 2004 Llei de Barris provided regular funds for the regeneration of depressed towns and areas throughout Catalonia, such as Tortosa's old quarter. The Llei d'Omnibus would remove set annual funding in favour of discretional financing by the Generalitat.

Health service shake-up
Eight Generalitat-administered hospitals and 360 local CAP health centres to lose their status as public-sector-only institutions, paving the way for mixed private-public centres and partial privatisation.
Healthcare to be provided only for those immigrants who have been registered on the local padrón for six months or more, excluding newly-arrived immigrants and long-term tourists.
Note that the law is still under debate and has not been passed yet, and that EU citizens' rights may well not be affected anyway.

near beachVehicle access in rural areas
Relaxation of current vehicle access restrictions in protected 'PEIN' rural areas. If the law is passed, expect to see more motorbikes, quads and 4x4s in the campo… As you can imagine, this has not pleased local ecological groups.
Other proposals include a ban on roadside prostitution, privatisation of one of Barcelona's main water authorities, reduced funding for arts and literature councils, and more cash for industrial institutions.
The Llei d'Omnibus is attracting fierce criticism from opposition parties in the Catalan government, and President Artur Mas does not have an absolute majority, so he will need to make a pact to get the law passed.

Make your sale trouble-free
For me, one of the things I love about selling property here is getting to meet a fascinating range of people from different countries. One of an estate agent's key tasks is to manage expectations of course, and I find that different nationalities' expectations can differ when it comes to buying a property.
With buyers thin on the ground and so many properties on the market, it makes sense to do everything possible to ensure a trouble-free sale.
Unless you are selling an unrefurbished property, it's reasonable for a buyer to expect that a property will be sold with everything working and in good order, with repairs carried out unless otherwise agreed.
Savvy buyers will have a survey organised and will carefully inspect and list any work needed before the deposit contract stage, making completion of any repairs a condition for the completion of sale. But most don't, so avoid potential problems by having any minor repairs done and commenting on any known or suspected defects with your estate agent well in advance.
Perhaps the most common cause for contention is what furniture or equipment is to be left in a property. Village houses left full of an astounding array of junk, water heaters ripped off walls on the morning of the sale… every estate agent has stories to tell!
Avoid all this by preparing a detailed inventory, and bear in mind that smart buyers may demand an inspection before completion at the notary's office.

good impresionPresenting your home: the art of staging
Anyone that's met me will know that I'm passionate about presenting and photographing properties as well as I can. In today's saturated and internet-based market you get one short chance to make an impression so it had better be a good one!
So when I came across a handy website article recently I thought I'd share it with you. Check it out at http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/staging/.
The site is American but the content is relevant to any property, and goes beyond the simplistic paint-it-beige-and-declutter school. Plenty of useful tips and an interesting video in part 10.

As always, I love to hear your comments and feedback. By the way, I have various Spanish and European clients looking for realistically-priced fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and less than 30 minutes from the coast, so please email me at [email protected] if you are thinking of selling.
I will be happy to help organise the cédula application if you qualify for one or find an alternative route-to-sale if you don't. Look forward to hearing from you!

Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. Call 977 082 244.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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In this period of Austerity....... Advertorial June 2011

living in spainIn this period of austerity when the euros and cents are tight, the need for good insurance is not your top priority. When it comes to your motor vehicle it is a legal requirement and cheap is not always best. Protecting your home and valuables has been reduced to "when we can afford it".

When you insure through Beneficial Insurance Services, you are not only reducing your premiums by the competitive quotes we can give, but the advice we give our clients helps to put their minds at rest. All our policies are in English and designed to cover all eventualities. We can also help to spread the cost, so you get the cover you need. When you contact us for a quotation you are answered by English speaking agents in a friendly, business-like fashion and a quotation is usually given within 30 minutes.

Another area of our expertise is planning for your funeral. This is usually left for your family to plan and pay for, at the worst possible time.

To alleviate these worries and take the responsible approach, why not arrange and pay for a funeral plan. This takes into account all expenses, costs, arrangements and legal documentation. You can plan the funeral yourself, with our help and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you wish. The plan is valid in both Spain and UK. One telephone call, day or night and your wishes are put into place immediately. The payments can also be spread over a period of time but once started the cost is locked in at today's price.

If you require any help in any these areas please do not hesitate to contact Beneficial Insurance Services on 961 129 215 or
email [email protected]. web site www.beneficialspain.com

 

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catalonia property info update May 2011

catlunya propHola! Lovely spring weather is with us once more and with it a flurry of property sales enquiries and visits, with predominantly Dutch and French buyers.
While French house hunters tend to be looking for holiday/retirement villas near the coast, Dutch buyers are very often looking for a peaceful rural finca —possibly to refurbish. They come fully prepared and are usually pretty well-informed about potential problems.
One of the most common concerns is the essential cédula de habitabilidad certificate. As many of you know, this can not always be obtained for houses on rural land.
To recap, the cédula is needed to sell properties that are registered at the Registro de la Propiedad (ie. on the property escritura) as:
- viviendas (dwellings)
- casas, pisos (houses, flats)
- where the building description specifically mentions a division into bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, etc
If a building is not registered in this way or not registered at all, no cédula should be needed to sell — if in doubt, take the escritura to a notary and ask.

The British Consul and the cédula issue
At the beginning of April, Barcelona's British Consul Andrew Gwatkin and Vice Consul Mark Smithson came to El Perelló on an initial fact-finding visit about cédula-related problems.
The British Consulate in Barcelona are taking a keen interest in this issue and the Consul told us they have had a series of meetings with the Generalitat's Habitatge department and have also spoken directly to new president Artur Mas.
Also present was new adviser at the British Consulate general in Madrid, Alexandra Brown, who is working on Spanish property-related problems that affect UK nationals. Appointing a specialist adviser seems like a positive step as the Consulate's policy on property problems formerly appeared to be to limited to 'sorry, but we cannot get involved'.
The Consul stresses that the Consulate cannot champion individual cases but that they are concerned and are talking to the Catalan government. I think they could be especially interested to hear of cases where, for lack of a cédula, UK nationals are being denied registry on the padrón (local councils' register of residents) with subsequent problems of access to healthcare, schooling, etc. For more info see http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk.
Possible solutions include an officially-proposed modification to the Habitatge law at the end of the year, so no fast solution but at least awareness of the problem is growing. Let's hope the new government of the Generalitat will remember one of their key election pledges: to eliminate the petty bureaucracy and red tape that is slowly strangling Catalonia.
Finally, don't forget that the official channel for any complaint about the Catalan administration is the 'Sindic de Greuges'. You can do this in English on their website, see http://www.sindic.cat/en/page.asp?id=1.

catalunya propCompulsory registry for estate agents
Reading around the local internet forums the other day I noticed an interesting post asking about the AICAT, the Generalitat's little-publicised but obligatory register of estate agents in Catalonia.
Part of the Llei d'Habitatge housing law, the register sets out to protect consumers and regulate estate agents selling and renting properties in Catalonia.
Since March 2010, estate agents in Catalonia are required to register on the AICAT. Many have already done so, particularly those that belong to professional associations like API or APEI.
Agencies located outside Catalonia —in other regions of Spain or overseas— that sell property in Catalonia are not required to register, neither are agents that only sell property on an occasional basis (quite a few retired agents would fall into this category, as would professionals in other fields that sometimes organise property sales).

AICATTo become an AICAT agent you have to:
- Prove at least 4 years' professional experience or appropriate qualifications. Certain professions are exempt, like lawyers, architects, economists, and engineers.
- Take out civil responsibility insurance and a bank guarantee to demonstrate solvency.
- Have an office where the public can visit you. In theory you can work exclusively over the internet and have a home office but in practice it is very hard to get the bank guarantee and is much more expensive.
- Adhere to the AICAT professional code and procedures.
More info (in Catalan) and a list of registered agents are available at www.agenciahabitatge.cat.
When the law was introduced it was rumoured that similar registers would soon be set up for the rest of Spain. However, given the current low volume of property sales this is unlikely to be a priority for any government, autonomous or central…

As always, I love to hear your comments and feedback. And by the way, I have various Spanish and European clients looking for realistically-priced fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and less than 30 minutes' drive from the coast, so please email me at [email protected] if you are thinking of selling.
I will be happy to help organise the cédula application if you qualify for one or find an alternative route-to-sale if you don't. I look forward to hearing from you!
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is an AICAT registered estate agent, APEI member and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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UK REGISTERED CARS IN SPAIN MARCH 2011

safe drivingEU law states that when you bring a UK registered car to Spain it can stay on UK plates for up to 182 days i.e. six months. During that time it must remain fully road legal in the country of registration. That means that it must display a current valid tax disc from the UK and have a current MOT from the UK. n.b. a voluntary Spanish ITV on a UK registered car is worthless and has no legal validity whatsoever. This is because a certificate of roadworthiness is only valid when it is issued in the country of registration.

The reason the six month period is given is to allow the owner the time to re-register their car with Spanish plates so that they can pay the road fund license fee to their local town hall and also to obtain a valid certificate of roadworthiness.

If your UK tax has expired and you are not yet paying Spanish road tax then your car is not licensed for use on public roads in either country.

The police in the UK and Spain have the power to impound unlicensed cars.

The solution is, of course, is to re-register your car with Spanish national plates.

Safe driving Chris Dann
www.carimportinspain.com Tel: 606554048

 

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march 2011 news

Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team CALLING ALL PENSIONERS!! The International Pension Centre (IPC) recently started a "life certificate" campaign and will soon be sending forms to many of you in Spain. As we´ve mentioned before, the life certificate is a form you must complete, within a certain time period, to demonstrate you continue to have the right to a pension. It is important the letter reaches you as soon as possible. We would therefore like to ask you to ensure the IPC hold your up to date contact details. Although you will have provided them with your Spanish address when you first moved over, if you have since moved house, or your address has changed due to increasing urbanisation in your town, inform the Pension Service on 0044 191 218 7777. Remember, you should inform the IPC of any changes in your circumstances, such as changes in address, within 28 days as you could receive correspondence from them at any time throughout the year. If "updating your details with IPC" is a resolution you keep all the way through to 2012, you´ll save yourself trouble regarding your pension in the year ahead!
A message from the British Consulate. We know that the withdrawal of the old "Residencia" ID cards has caused inconvenience to many British citizens living in Spain. However, ultimately this is a matter for the Spanish Government in the same way that not going ahead with the UK ID card project is a decision taken by the British Government. As you may know, Spain withdrew the Residents Card for EU citizens in order to comply with the EU Directive 2004/38/EC on the freedom of movement within the European Union which prevents a member state from issuing compulsory ID/residence cards to citizens of another EU country. Nevertheless, we will continue talking to the Spanish authorities in order to find an alternative solution that can help British and other European residents. In the meantime, the only legitimate form of ID for British citizens that is recognised by the Spanish authorities is the British passport, although you may find that a photo driving licence, a photo credit card or a certified copy of your passport is accepted in some shops and stores.

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'Pensions, Benefit and Health Team', FEB 2011

help and adviceI was delighted last year to discover the existence of the 'Pensions, Benefit and Health Team', one of whom Laura Leeman, confirmed in a letter for the Olive Press last month the Tarjeta Sanitaria /Health Card's new availability since October 2010 to people living here.

The PBHT is a useful initiative & partnership between the British Government's Consular department responsible for these key areas and their counterparts within the Spanish State system. They are based in Alicante with a brief to provide information to all of us living within Spain including Catalunya.

The team did a workshop at the British Consul's open day last autumn here in El Perelló and encouraged us to not rely on hearsay - which is often both confusing & incorrect - but to directly check with them re: any questions around these themes, e.g entitlements we may be eligible for. An invaluable service.

I found the Consul's PBHT team very helpful at explaining the complex system in operation here in regard to these vital areas of health, benefits and pensions, and also in directing me where to get documentation needed from other countries, e.g. evidence of the 15 years of work credit done within the EEA necessary to apply for a Spanish pension (far more generous criteria than the UK system!).

They encourage people to contact them by phone +34 965 216022, fax: +34 965 140528, or by email [email protected], and have a newsletter service you can sign up for.

Clearly it is important to know what possibilities exist here, often more than we think. There are advantages to registering as available for work, for example, at the OTG (Oficina de Treball) if you are unemployed. Even though you may not receive any money, after a year being on the job-seekers register if you are still unemployed you may be eligible for RAI (Renda Activa d'inserció) if you are between the ages of 45 & 51, or there are some benefits available for sole providers of a family. That could make all the difference to a family if facing challenging circumstances in the future.

Also if people are working but without a proper job contract with the rights & benefits that affords, I have also heard social workers here advise people to register as available for work, again creating opportunities for financial support for the future should they need that and making them able to take opportunity of the training courses available, etc. The Consell Comarcal's social workers, assigned to local areas, are another good place to find out what help there may be available if facing challenging circumstances financially. In my role as an agent d'acollida for the Ajuntament I sometimes help translate with the social workers for people who need that input.

There is also SIAD (Advice and Information service for Women) which offers access to a choice of psychological, social work & legal consultation and is increasingly being made available at the village level to facilitate people living in rural areas. It may be possible to arrange for translation for this free service through the Consell Comarcal for your area. SIAD's contact details for our area are 977 445 308, [email protected]
Taru Burstall, Agent d'acollida, El Perelló Ajuntament, 977 490 814, [email protected]

 

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choiceHouse Insurance- letter sent in by a concerned reader:
John Ogilvie <[email protected]>
WARNING


Readers are advised to carefully check their house insurance policy documents, ESPECIALLY the description page, as several companies are now wording the description and location of the property in such a way that should a claim have to be made, the insurance company can twist the wording to their advantage and claim that the policy is not correct and they are therefore refusing to pay proper compensation.
This is a result of the huge number of burglary claims that have been occurring in recent times and seems to more particularly apply to rural properties.
The insurance companies have had to pay out so much, that they are using any means to reduce their compensation pay outs. There are now only one or two companies that will insure rural properties and it is advisable to use a company that specialises in rural / farm type properties.
I have been caught out by this. So be pedantic and carefully check your policy and query the wording and if necessary get the insurance company to clarify in writing, wherever your property is located and try to avoid falling foul of this practise.

Regards and best wishes for the New Year

John Ogilvie

PS. If you wish to discuss this my contact details are Telephone 696 118 348 Email as above

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AGE CONCERN ESPANA FEB 2011

AGE CONCERN SPAIN

HISTORY OF ORGANISATION
Age Concern España is a national Federation established in 1994 that provides specialist information and advice for British people over the age of fifty in Spain. It currently has five local member Age concern Organizations (ACOs) in Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca, as well as a national telephone based information line.
Since Age Concern España was established, the demand for its advice and services has grown. Each Age Concern Organisation has grown locally and has responded to local needs therefore the services offered vary according to location. The services provided at a localised level include befriending, home and hospital visiting, equipment loans, transportation, interpreting services and social activities.
At a national level, the Federation of Age Concern España provides the information service INFOLINE and the National Casework Service. INFOLINE provides information and advice on a range of matters affecting older people in Spain. It also increasingly acts as a gateway to the National Casework Service.

NATIONAL CASEWORK SERVICE
The National Casework Service offers support for the most vulnerable in difficulty: particularly those suffering from dementia, disability, social isolation, or those with complex care needs. Demand for this service has increased significantly over the past year. The Casework service has thus far been supported and implemented by over 50 volunteers, who carry out assessment visits, follow-up with support interventions and sacrifice significant amounts of time and effort to support vulnerable older people.
Until this point, both services have been managed on a voluntary basis by Judy Arnold-Boakes, MBE, founder President and Co-Patron, but this arrangement is no longer feasible. Need for the service has grown, driven both by the economic crisis and by a retired population that is living on less money than expected. Currently, Age Concern España has direct contact with 15,000 British nationals a year. Therefore, there is even greater necessity for a professional service with strategic direction and connections in order to maximize the benefits and potential of the service.


BRITISH CONSULATE/AGE CONCERN PARTNERSHIP PROJECT (BC/ACPP)
As a result of these issues, Age Concern España, Age UK and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office have entered into a joint project to bring greater capacity and a more professional approach to the service. The British Consulate network has access to over 990,000 British nationals with 600,000 British nationals over the age of 45 in Spain and it was felt that a ´One Stop Shop´ service was required to deal with the complex issues experienced by the British national population in Spain.
To manage the project a Country Casework Manager has been recruited who has access to key stakeholders such as the Ambassador, Consuls, the Spanish Red Cross, the Madrid business community and other key 'movers and shakers' in the NGO sector.
The Country Casework Manager´s role within this project is the overall management of the service, including developing strategy, fundraising, stakeholder communications, training and volunteer recruitment. The aim of the project is to ensure representative coverage and a high quality service across the whole of Spain. Currently, there is an ongoing recruitment campaign in order to steadily increase the network of Federation volunteer caseworkers.

 

MILLY´S STORY
Milly's story is one which is all too common amongst older people in Spain today. Milly‚ like many people was looking forward to a long and happy retirement with her husband of many years. They had moved to Spain and were excited about their new life together. Tragically‚ shortly after relocating‚ Milly's husband died.
Struggling with her loss and sense of emptiness‚ Milly found it increasingly difficult to gain any meaning out of what remained of her life. She would spend days and nights alone‚ often going for weeks without any contact with another human being. Having only recently moved to the area she did not know anybody. With no family here and not being able to speak Spanish she became more and more housebound. Then she phoned the British Consulate in a very distressed state because she had no money as she was unable to sort out her pension.
A Caseworker from Age Concern visited Milly at home and undertook a detailed assessment of her needs. By working with the PBHT, we managed to sort things out and she is now in receipt of both her UK and Spanish pension. Her sister in England rang us to thank everyone for all their efforts.
Each week Casework Support volunteers from the local Age Concern still visit Milly, do some shopping for her, take her to the hospital and translate for her. With assistance from Age Concern, the Red Cross provided her with a tele-alarm, which she now carries at all times. She is too scared to go out on her own and so she attends Age Concern social events, including the monthly luncheon club.
This has made a tremendous difference to Milly's life. Her weekly visits from Age Concern España Casework Support volunteers has given Milly some hope back in her life whereas before she felt she was merely existing.
This is just one of many examples of how working in partnership with the British Consulate, the PBHT and Spanish organisations can help to ensure the continued welfare of elderly British nationals in Spain.
Support Us. If for whatever reason you cannot provide your time then you can still help us provide the vital information‚ advice and services that help thousands of older people throughout Spain. You can make a one-off donation, regular donations, donate in memory of a loved one, or leave a legacy. You can make a donation over the phone by calling (0034) 902 00 38 38 or by sending a cheque made payable to Age Concern España by post to the address below.

Volunteers are Age Concern España´s most valuable asset.
All of our Volunteers perform roles which are vital to the organisation.
We make every effort to ensure that all our Volunteers have the training and support they need and the appreciation that they deserve.
We involve Volunteers fully both in delivering our services and in the development of the organisation as a whole.
As we have a duty of care to our clients, Volunteers are selected subject to interview, satisfactory references and Criminal Record checks.
Time to Spare?
Skills to Share?
GET INVOLVED!
Volunteering with Age Concern España
For more information or to apply, please contact:
Age Concern España, British Consulate Madrid
Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana, 259 D, 28046 Madrid
Tel: 0034 636 081 239
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.acespana.org or
www.ageconcernespana.org.uk
age concern espanaWhat will volunteering involve?
We offer many services from helping an older person with their weekly shopping to providing tailored information and advice on welfare entitlements.
What skills and attributes are needed?
•An understanding of older people's needs
volunteer•A helpful and friendly manner
•Reliability
•Willingness to learn
•Good communication skills
•Ability to travel independently in the community
•Respect and confidentiality
How much time is needed?
Most of our vacancies generally require volunteers to be available during normal working hours on weekdays. However, we ask you to be as flexible as possible with your time commitment.

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LATEST NEWS: CEDULA CERTIFICATE

If you cannot get a cedula for your house, there is now a certificate you can get from an architect which states that the building does not conform to the cedula law, i.e it doesn´t qualify. ( This only applies to properties registered as viviendas)
If you sell your house with this certificate the status of it will not change. In the new escritura it will still say "vivienda", but with a small amendment? (I don´t know if that´s the right word) that says it does not conform to the law of the cedula. It basically means you don´t have the right to mains water and electric.
If it says in your nota simple "vivienda" that is what will go in to the new deeds, and it will get registered at the land registry as such.
To obtain this certificate you need to take your escritura and N.I.E to an architect. He does not need to come to the house and there is no time limit on it.

That´s all there is to it really, only took them a year to come up with it!!!
Perelló Properties Direct S.L
Tel: (0034) 977 490605
Fax:(0034) 977 490865
E-Mail: [email protected]
Web: www.ppdsl.com

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FREE HEALTH CARE IN CATALUNYA

Provided by the Pension, Benefit & Healthcare Team here at the British Consulate.

I can confirm that those who are 'empadronado' (registered at the town hall) in the region of Catalunya and have no access to healthcare by any other means (either from Spain or the UK) can now access healthcare in Spain free of charge. This means that the Catalunya pay monthly scheme (87€ per month) or the means-tested route into healthcare are no longer in existence.

This change is due to a new law (Ley 21/2010, de 7 de julio, de acceso a la asistencia sanitaria de coberatura pública a cargo del Servicio Catalán de la Salud) which came into effect in Catalunya on 01 October 2010, further details of which can be found here: http://www.gencat.cat/diari_c/5672/10189023.htm

To apply for a health card in this way (Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual) applicants should go to their local 'Centro de Atencion Primaria' (CAP) where they will have to fill in an application form: http://www10.gencat.net/catsalut/archivos/240z214sol_cast.pdf and present photocopies of their NIE/DNI, passport and padrón certificate with an issue date of less than 3 months.

UK nationals will also need to present proof of no entitlement to healthcare from the UK which can be obtained by contacting the Overseas Healthcare Team in Newcastle on 0044 191 218 1999. Applicants under 18 will also need to present a copy of the 'Libro de Familia'. The health card, once issued, will be sent by post to their home address

Proof of Social Security number only needs to be presented if the person applying is the dependent of a contributor to the Social Security system.

I hope this answers your query however if you do have any further questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us again.

Kind regards,

Laura Leeman | Officer | British Consulate | Plaza Calvo Sotelo 1,2, 03001 Alicante
Tel.: +34 965 216022 | fax: +34 965 140528 | FTN: 8361 2004

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SOLVIT SEPT 2010

SOLVIT

SOLVITSOLVIT is an on-line problem solving network in which EU Member States work together to solve problems without legal proceedings caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities. There is a SOLVIT centre in every European Union Member State (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). SOLVIT Centres can help with handling complaints from both citizens and businesses. They are part of the national administration and are committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. Using SOLVIT is free of charge.
SOLVIT has been working since July 2002. The European Commission coordinates the network, which is operated by the Member States, the European Commission provides the database facilities and, when needed, helps to speed up the resolution of problems. The Commission also passes formal complaints it receives on to SOLVIT if there is a good chance that the problem can be solved without legal action.
Why SOLVIT?
SOLVITThe Internal Market offers citizens and businesses many opportunities. You may want to move to another country in the European Union, to study, to work, to follow your partner or to enjoy life after retirement. Or you may want to set up a business or sell your products or services in another EU Member State
While the Internal Market generally works well, mistakes are sometimes made. For example, you might have problems with getting a residence permit, getting your professional qualifications recognised or registering a car. Your employment, social security or tax rights might be denied. You might have trouble getting the right to vote in European and local elections in the Member State to which you have moved. Your business could be faced with administrative obstacles, unjustified refusal of access to a national market or problems in getting reimbursement of VAT.
Sometimes these problems arise because of a lack of information about your rights in Europe and about how procedures work in other EU Member States. In such cases, the "Your Europe" portal on the Europa website can help to clarify matters.
But if you are already well informed about your internal market rights and have tried in vain to exercise them in another EU country, SOLVIT is there to help you.
http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/about/index_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/citizensrights
Freephone number : 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11
your europeThe new webportal Your Europe http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope which contains clear and relevant official information for citizens living or doing business in another EU country than their own


Here are a few of their success stories:
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
SOLVIT promotes Finnish smiles in Spain
SOLVITA Finnish citizen wished to have his professional qualification as a dentist recognised in Spain. Having waited some considerable time for a decision from the Spanish Ministry of Education (more than the 3-month deadline provided for in EU legislation), he contacted SOLVIT for help. As a result of SOLVIT intervention, the Spanish Ministry sent the applicant the credentials with his professional recognition. Solved within 10 weeks


SOLVIT gets Norwegian work experience recognised in Spain
A Spanish professor who had been teaching in Norway since 2001 was refused authorisation to teach at the same level in Spain because ‘Norway is not in the EU’. SOLVIT persuaded the university in question that, because Norway is in the European Economic Area, the professor should be treated as if he had been teaching in an EU country. Solved within 11 weeks


RESIDENCE RIGHTS AND FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS

SOLVIT unblocks pension dispute between Romania and Hungary
Someone who had worked eight years in Romania before moving to Hungary, where she continued to work and then retired, was having difficulties getting recognition of the pension rights relating to her employment period in Romania. With the help of SOLVIT, the pension authorities of both countries were able to complete and process the file, and a decision on the pension was quickly issued by the competent authority. Solved within 5 weeks


FREE MOVEMENT OF GOODS, SERVICES, PAYMENTS AND TAXATION
Spanish gourmets enjoy Belgian imports of Chinese water mushrooms
A Belgian company importing Asian food wanted to import a container of Chinese water mushrooms to Spain. The container was held back in the port of Bilbao because the Spanish authorities classed the product as a novel food that has not been exported to Europe before. The company turned to SOLVIT for help. The Spanish authorities were provided with all necessary documents stating that the product was not a novel food and that the client was allowed to sell it in Spain without further restriction. The Spanish authorities thereupon decided to release the container forthwith and to reimburse the company for the cost of holding the container in Bilbao. Solved within 3 weeks


DRIVING LICENCES AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION
SOLVIT facilitates trailer import to Bulgaria
A Dutch national was prevented from importing a trailer into Bulgaria. As trailers lighter than 750 kg do not have to be registered in the Netherlands, the importer had no registration document — so the Bulgarian authorities refused to register the trailer in their country. SOLVIT helped the importer pass the Bulgarian roadworthiness test he needed to get the trailer registered there. Solved within 13 weeks


NON- DISCRIMINATION
SOLVIT helps EU citizens enjoy Cyprus sun
SOLVITA British couple legally resident in Cyprus applied for permanent residence status. Almost a year later, the authorities informed the couple that they must first get a 3-month residence permit, to prove the continuity of their stay. SOLVIT notified the authorities that this was illegal under EU law and that the couple were entitled to permanent residence as they had been legally resident in Cyprus for over five years. Following this intervention, the competent authority issued the requisite documents to the complainants, and subsequently changed its policy on accepting applications for permanent residence. Solved within 10 weeks

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Information for People of Working Age- provided by the British Embassy in Madrid - DEC 2010

10 things British people of Working Age living in Spain should know:

As a resident in Spain, it is the Spanish authorities who are primarily responsible for providing you with assistance;
If you are resident in Spain and have ever worked here, you should apply for your pension and most benefits through the INSS – Spanish social security;
You may be entitled to a Spanish pension if you have worked just one year in Spain providing you have worked a total of at least 15 years in the EEA;
You can receive certain UK benefits such as Employment Support Allowance (depending on eligibility) and Bereavement Benefit in Spain but remember you may have eligibility for a similar benefit from Spain – Spanish benefits are not just for Spanish nationals;
Provided you are registered on the padrón, you may be able to access a wide range of services and assistance through social services at your local town hall, including disability benefits;
You could be entitled to Spanish unemployment benefit, even if you have only worked here for a short period of time. Be sure to make your application as soon as possible to obtain maximum entitlement and declare any work you have done in the UK;
If you reach State Pension Age on or after 6th April 2010, you will be affected by the UK Pension Reform Act (more information below);
If you are working and paying contributions in Spain, you and your dependants will be entitled to free healthcare from Spain;
If you are not working in Spain and have moved here recently, you may be able to access healthcare for a limited period on an E106 form;
If you are in receipt of a benefit or pension from the UK, you must inform the International Pension Centre of any change in circumstance, including change of address, within 28 days.

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End-of-year property news roundup- jan 2010

catalonia

jan propertyHello again and ay! — where does the time go? As the end of another year rushes up to meet us, here in Catalonia a new Autonomous government led by Convergència i Unió leader Artur Mas is about to take power.
Among other things, Sr. Mas has pledged to radically streamline Catalonia's cumbersome public administration and slash red tape. Let's hope it will mean real, common sense changes and not just cuts, job losses and poorer services…
One change mooted is that Medi Ambient i Habitatge (Environment and Housing) —think cédulas de habitabilidad and agentes rurales— may cease to be an independent Generalitat department, presumably losing power and funding. Time will tell.
And in their last few weeks in power, the outgoing tripartit coalition have hurriedly rushed through a few government decrees. You may have heard rumours, so let's have a look at two that could affect you. First the good news:


ITE building inspection (inspecció tècnica dels edificis)
Designed to guarantee the structural safety of buildings over 45 years old, these compulsory inspections apply to edificis plurifamiliars — blocks of flats or buildings that contain one or more dwellings. So edificis unifamiliars such as villas, fincas and village houses are not affected.
However, if you have a town house that has been divided into apartments, with each flat registered separately at the Land Registry, my understanding is that you will need to comply with this. Call the Generalitat's 012 helpline for details.
Sadly, more than a few apartment blocks have collapsed over the years, sometimes with tragic loss of life. So to me, this measure seems to make a lot of sense.
And now for the not-quite-so-good news…


Licence now needed for holiday let properties
Passed in November, this controversial decree makes local councils responsible for licensing, controlling and —at least partly— inspecting holiday lets of apartments, villas and other types of residential buildings.
Councils now have to grant licences and register information like details of ownership, the individual or company who handles the rental and maintenance and the maximum number of occupants permitted.
A call around several Ayuntamientos suggested that most councils are still working out just how they will put these changes into practice.
The controversy stems from the fact that, while this will generate some desperately-needed municipal income, right now councils have neither the staff nor the funds to implement it. Some press comments claim it's a measure specifically designed to counter problems generated by Barcelona's tourist flats, now foisted on the rest of Catalonia.
So far I haven't been able to get definitive information about what councils will require from owners, but these are likely to include:
-A signed declaration of ownership, stating that the property is not the owner's principal residence
-Contact details of the person or company that handles rental and maintenance
-Cédula de habitabilidad or cédula de primera ocupación (habitation or first occupancy as applicable)
As I understand it, councils will set the charge for the activity licence; apparently repeated rentals of less than three months' duration will automatically be considered to be a tourist let. And it seems that other owners of flats in apartment blocks will have the right to block a licence if there have been complaints in the past.
In my view this decree has good and bad points but one thing is clear: councils will be collecting information about who is renting out properties — owners of licensed holiday lets will now show up on the Spanish tax radar.
Holiday letting agencies will doubtless be aware of this issue and should be able to tell owners what is required — once individual Ayuntamientos have established their procedures.


jan propertyCédula de habitabilidad
Since April 2008 the law in Catalonia dictates that all properties registered as dwellings at the Registro de la Propiedad (Land Registry) must have a cédula de habitabilidad, issued by the Habitatge dept of the Generalitat. Without it, the notary cannot conduct the sale and the Land Registry will not register it.
This has meant that virtually no habitation certificates are being issued for RURAL dwellings unless the local council certifies that the house was built with a licence for a vivienda —a dwelling— or legalised as one with architect's plans and a retrospective licence. Many of you know the problems and distress this has caused.
However, following a policy modification in July, now being implemented, there is now some hope for owners of country properties built before 1984: provided the local council is prepared to issue a certificate stating that the dwelling existed before then, you have a good chance of getting the cédula.
Not all councils will be willing to certify this, and even where they are you will need to prove the age of the building, with:
-Historical Catastro and Land Registry certificates
-Aerial photographs, old photos of the property
-Tax records
-Independent architect's reports
Where it's impossible to get a cédula there are other options that allow a property to be sold. Whether you need to sell now or just want peace of mind I may be able to help, so please feel free to contact me for a no-obligation consultation.


As always, your comments and feedback are much appreciated. Fins aviat!
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. Call 977 082 244. While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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A-Z OF HANDY SPANISH PROPERTY TERMS PART II- NOV 2010

SPAIN HOUSESHello again! Another month has gone by, we’ve seen some quite incredible rainstorms and Catalonia’s autonomous elections are now just a few weeks away.
Will a new government bring a more commonsense approach to rural planning issues and cédulas de habitabilidad? Let’s hope so, but don’t hold your breath…
Meanwhile, here’s part II of my short guide to the more common Spanish terms you’ll find if you are selling or buying a property in Catalonia.

 

Notario/a

Notary, Notary Public. State-appointed legal officials that draft and witness many types of contracts in Spain, for example a property sale, an inheritance or setting up a company.
They ensure both parties understand the terms of the contract, that these terms do not contravene any laws, and that any taxes are paid.
Note that unlike a Notary Public in the United States, notaries in Spain train for several years after taking a degree in law.
Nota simple
An informative note from the Spanish Land Registry stating the legal situation of a property, basically a brief description plus details of ownership and any charges.
Obra nueva, Declaración de Obra Nueva
Obra nueva: new-build properties in general.
The Declaración de Obra Nueva is a notary procedure for registering an existing building at the Land Registry, regardless of whether it really is new or has been there for many years. It requires a certificate and report from an aparejador (technical architect/surveyor) or architect.
Opción de compra, Alquiler con opción a compra
Purchase option agreement where a buyer acquires the right to buy a property within a set period of time and subject to agreed conditions. The buyer pays a sum of money, which he or she loses if the sale-purchase does not go ahead.
The alquiler con opción a compra is a rental agreement that gives a buyer the right to buy the property, again, within a defined time period and subject to defined conditions. The buyer may pay a sum of money, deducted from the final sale price if the sale goes ahead. Monthly rental payments are often deducted too.
Plusvalía
Municipal tax on urban-zoned properties, based on the increase in the value of the land on which a house is built. Most councils in this area don’t apply it to rural dwellings. The local council can calculate the approximate cost for you.
This tax is paid after the sale, by the seller.
Préstamo, Préstamo hipotecario
Loan, mortgage loan.
Propietario/a
The owner of an asset or property.
Registro de la Propiedad
The Spanish Land Registry, a public organization that records the ownership of properties along with mortgages, charges and rights-of-way, etc. The information registered at the Registro de la Propiedad is what appears on a property’s escritura — the title deed.
Seguro, Poliza
Insurance, policy. The seguro multirriesgo del hogar (multi-risk home insurance) and seguro de vida de amortización de préstamos (life and loan amortisation insurance) are policies that are commonly required when you take out a mortgage.
Señal, Paga y señal, Arras
Deposit paid when the sale of a property is agreed, which then becomes part of the purchase price. The most common type is the Arras Penitenciales deposit: if the buyer pulls out he or she loses the deposit paid. If the seller pulls out, he or she returns double the deposit.
Subrogación
Subrogación —subrogation— of a mortgage is when a buyer takes over the seller’s mortgage.
The advantage for the buyer is that you are taking over a loan that already exists, and so doesn’t need to be approved. This can be a big plus in the case of a rural finca, because many banks no longer want to finance this type of property.
If you are selling, the advantage of subrogation is that you don’t have to pay the bank a fee to cancel your mortgage (typically 1% of the balance owed).
Superficie construida
The total area of a building, including interior and exterior walls and other ‘non-usable’ areas.
Superficie construida con elementos comunes
In an apartment block or residential complex, the total constructed area plus the proportional part of shared areas.
Superficie útil
The total ‘usable’ area of a dwelling but not including walls, built-in wardrobes, etc. May include covered balconies and terraces and 50% of non-covered ones.
Tasación
Valuation or appraisal carried out by a specialist company. Used to calculate a property’s ‘real’ (as opposed to market) value and to raise a mortgage.
Valor catastral
Value assigned by the Catastro, used to calculate municipal property taxes (IBI). Usually lower than a property’s appraised or market value, especially in the case of rural fincas.
Vivienda
Dwelling
SPAIN HOMESAs always, I love to hear your comments and feedback. And by the way, I have various Spanish and European clients looking for realistically-priced fincas with habitable houses, preferably with nice views and less than 10km from the coast, so please email me at [email protected] if you are thinking of selling.
I will be happy to help organise the cédula application if you qualify for one or find an alternative route-to-sale if you don’t. Look forward to hearing from you!
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. The points contained in this article do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please seek independent advice if in any doubt.

A-Z of handy Spanish property terms, part I -Oct 2010

spainHello! The excesses of summer are over and the Mediterranean rainstorms have already started in spectacular fashion. As anyone recently in l’Ametlla de Mar will tell you, Catalonia doesn’t do weather by halves! Hopefully we’ll have a good run of those deliciously mild and mellow autumn days—for me one of the great pleasures of living here.
But of course, life here is not all flors i violes, as the Catalans say, and a major ongoing challenge is finding your way round the maze of confusing and sometimes inconsistent bureacracy and regulations, particularly where property and planning issues are concerned.
Even with a good command of the language the terminology can be confusing. So here are a few of the more common Spanish terms you’ll encounter if you are selling or buying a property in Catalonia.


fincaArras deposit contract
Contract often used to secure the sale-purchase of a property by paying a deposit or ‘arras’, which usually becomes part of the purchase price.
Perhaps the most common is the Arras Penitenciales contract: if the buyer pulls out he or she loses the deposit paid, while if the seller pulls out, he or she returns double the deposit. This gives both buyer and seller a way out of the contract, albeit an expensive one.
In contrast the Arras Confirmatorias and Arras Penales contracts do not, and are used in slightly different ways to bind buyer and seller to the sale-purchase agreement.


BASE
Government agency that collects local taxes for many towns and villages (some do their own) in Tarragona province, see its English info page at www.base.cat.
Taxes collected include the annual vehicle tax and ‘IBI’, the municipal rates paid on property. For the latter it works closely with the Catastro.


Catastro
A part of Hacienda, the Spanish treasury, the Catastro records and describes rural and residential properties for tax purposes. Important: while it can provide proof that a building exists, it does not guarantee that it was built legally!


Cédula de habitabilidad
Habitation/occupation certificate that verifies that a property is fit for habitation. In Catalonia, issued by the local Habitatge department of the Generalitat, and essential for buying, selling and mortgaging any property registered as a dwelling.
Now very hard to obtain for rural houses, as many of you know…


townhouseDerrama
In co-owner community charges, a one-off surcharge, typically for items like shared pool maintenance or lift repairs. Not a word you want to hear often.


Escritura de compraventa
Public deed of sale-purchase, signed and authorized by a Spanish Notary Public. Once signed, the details of the property are registered at the land registry—the Registro de la Propiedad.


Euribor
Interest rate at which prime banks in the Eurozone lend each other money on a one-year deposit and the official reference index on which most Spanish mortgages are based. ‘Euribor+1’ is the Euribor index plus one per cent.


Finca
In its strictest sense, any property, whether it has land or not. Often used to mean a finca rústica —a rural property or estate— and refers to the whole property, regardless of whether it has a house.


Gravamen, carga
An encumbrance or charge on a property, for example a mortgage. Libre de cargas = free of charges.


Gastos
Costs or expenses. Gastos de compraventa are the costs paid by the buyer: ITP or IVA tax, notary fees and Land registry charges. The municipal plusvalía tax on residential property is paid by the seller.


Hipoteca, préstamo
Mortgage, loan.


Herencia, heredero, heredera
Inheritance, heir, heiress.


Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI)
Municipal property tax, collected every year or six months, based on a value assigned by the Catastro.


Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales (ITP)
Transfer tax paid when a resale property is sold, currently 8% in Catalonia. IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido) is paid when a new-build property is sold.


Inmueble
‘Non-movable asset’, such as land, buildings and all types of properties.


Junta de propietarios
Board of propietors, co-owners’ association. Apartment blocks and residential complexes with shared areas have to establish a board of propietors; co-owners usually take turns to be president on a yearly rotation basis. Larger blocks and complexes are run by a specialist administrador de fincas.


Legalizar
Literally, to legalize, but often used to mean that a building has been declared at the Land Registry and Catastro. A true legalización of a house involves submitting full architect’s plans to obtain a retrospective building licence. Few rural properties have been legalized in this way.


Licencia de primera ocupación
First-occupation certificate of a new building, issued by the local council.


Licencia municipal de obras
Municipal building licence, should be duly signed and stamped by the local council.


Local, local comercial, local negocio
Comercial premises, business premises.


I’ll be covering M-Z at a later date. As always, I love to hear your comments and feedback or comments, and please feel free to contact me if you want to sell or find a property or if I can help you in any way!


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
The points contained in this article do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please seek independent advice if in any doubt.

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burros catalans "El Ruc Catalá"

ASESPANISH BULLYou may already know that the donkey is the symbol of Catalonia, whilst the bull is the unofficial national symbol of Spain.
To an observant visitor, their attention may be drawn to some stickers in the shape of a bull or a donkey, which some drivers place on the back of their vehicles. Images with clear political connotations, although it may be strange to foreigners.
The bull was born in 1956, in conjunction with Manolo Prieto, as a commercial icon for the Veterano brandy of Osborne, a company from Puerto de Santa Maria, producing spirits since 1772. In addition to being used on the labels of the brandy, on the Spanish roads appeared black hoardings with the silhouette of a bull known as Toro de Osborne. Over time, this image has exceeded the scope of advertising, becoming a source of inspiration for artists such as Dalí or Almodovar. When a law was passed in the 1990s prohibiting such advertising, the bull was already nationally famous, so it was agreed that the bulls would remain, but the name Osbourne would be removed and the hoardings were declared part of the cultural and artistic heritage of Spain, in recognition of exceeding its initial advertising sense. This has made the bull a symbol of Spain, or rather a way of understanding the Spanish rational. There are now nearly one hundred examples of the Osborne bull advertisements, often sited on a low hilltop so as to be clearly silhouetted against the sky, but only two still bear the word Osborne - one being at the Jerez de la Frontera airport in Cadiz, and the other in the nearby town of El Puerto de Santa Maria, where Osborne headquarters are found.

SPANISH MAP
The first Catalan donkey was designed by Eloi Alegre, commissioned by the Associació per al Foment de la Raça Asinina Catalana (Association for the Promotion of the Catalan Asinina Race), with the intention of promoting this donkey breed, native from Catalonia.


Car stickers and T shirts of the Osborne bull were by now all over Spain – a symbol of Spanish pride - so the Catalonians ‘hit back’ by producing their own unofficial national symbols. Jaume Sala and Àlex Ferreiro in 2004 - el burro – a symbol of Catalonian pride! And the other is a black cat (CAT = Catalonia, get it?), which seems to be much less popular. Originally, the pair ran off 50 stickers to hand out among friends, and when they realised how popular they were, another 3,500 were printed. The symbol and the accompanying campaign ‘Planta’t el burro’ (‘show off the donkey’) struck a chord with people and now more than 300,000 of the stickers have been sold.


CATThus becoming a symbol for the Catalan nationalism claims. With the success of the Catalan donkey, came the lawsuits by copyright, between the initial designer and the stickers promoters, who modified the original donkey design by removing the testicles and a small fringe.


From virtual obscurity, this docile but energetic beast has, over the past years, been adopted as a symbol of Catalunya, its culture and its language. Yet its newfound popularity, and the strong reaction elicited from many Catalans if asked how they feel about the dewy-eyed donkeys, makes it hard to believe that just over 25 years ago their numbers had plummeted to just 10. The figure is all the more staggering when compared to the end of the 19th century, when there were more than 50,000 of the breed in existence across Catalunya. Even today, they are still verging on extinction with only an estimated 400 Catalan burros remaining in the region.


Before their recent moment in the spotlight, the donkey enjoyed a long history. Although its earliest roots can be traced to Somalia, the first evidence of the Catalan burro dates back to 1000 BC. Initially it was used to carry minerals and produce from the mountains, then later to help cultivate the land and clear forests. But as machinery began to take over many of these tasks and traditional ways of life changed during the 20th century, the burro became obsolete, and its numbers fell.

BURROTORO


“The donkey seemed like a good way to fight against the Spanish bull in a subtle way, because if you don’t feel Catalan, you are not going to have the burro sticker,” said Sala. “As well as being an animal that has its origins in Catalonia, it has similarities with the manner in which Catalans do things—in moderation and without being strident. “But there are many ways to interpret it. It can be seen as a defence of a language or culture, and as a symbol of identification.”
It has however helped to protect "El Ruc Catalá"

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012HELPLINE

The Generalitat’s 012 helpline, a useful resource


CALL CENTEROne of the more frustrating things about settling in Spain must surely be trying to get clear and reliable information. Whether it’s finding out how to get healthcare or start up a business, somehow everyone seems to give you a slightly different story.
Catalans and Spaniards traditionally accepted this as a fact of life. But for the rest of us —even though things have improved a lot in recent years— this apparent bureaucratic confusion is hard to understand, no matter how long we live here.
So if you need information or have a problem, don’t speak much Spanish and don’t quite know where to begin, a good way to start is by calling 012, the Generalitat’s 24 hour phone helpline, and asking for an English-speaking operator.


Things you can ask about include:
-         How to go about getting healthcare
-         Help available for senior citizens
-         Education, how to enrol children in school, child benefits
-         Births, weddings and deaths
-         Work, unemployment, rights and benefits
-         Consumer complaints, health and safety
-         Housing grants and issues
-         Public transport
-         Agriculture


QUILL HELPLINEI regularly use it for all kinds of queries, particularly when I need numbers of government departments. Even when they can’t help directly, they can usually point you in the right direction.


You may already know the Generalitat’s huge website (www.gencat.cat), an absolute mine of information with more English content every day. But it’s so big it’s not always easy to find what you want — it’s often quicker to call 012 than to try and locate the information yourself.


Note that while the service is 24 hours, some queries are transferred to another Generalitat department, that opens in office hours. Most usually have someone that can help you in English.


Outside Catalonia, you can contact the helpline on 902 400 012, from abroad on 0034 902 400 012.


And on the subject of useful numbers, here are a few more:
112: single emergency number. 24h, free call.
Health emergencies, fire fighting and rescue, police and civil protection.
088: Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan Police). Free call.
900 900 120: helpline for women suffering from violence.

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Cost guide to buying and owning a Spanish property Aug 2010

eurohouseSummer is here once more and the Costa Dorada, with its relaxed, easy-going lifestyle, seems like the perfect place to be.

Perhaps you’re visiting for the first time, or maybe you have friends and family here and already know the area. Either way, you might be thinking about buying a property in Spain. And with prices still falling and bargains to be had, now is an ideal time to buy.

But before you buy it’s essential to know the costs involved. Ideally, you should prepare a carefully-checked breakdown of costs rather than just relying on what you’re told…

There are various costs and taxes to pay in addition to the price of the property itself:

1) Transfer Tax or VAT & Stamp Duty
Which you pay depends on whether you are buying a resale property from a private individual, or a new property from a developer.
New build from a developer
VAT and Stamp Duty are paid when a property is sold for the first time, and where the seller is a property developer. VAT (IVA in Spain) is 8% on the purchase price of residential property (apartments, villas etc), and 18% on unbuilt-on plots of land and commercial premises.
In Catalonia, Stamp duty (Actos Jurídicos Documentados or AJD) is now 1.2% of the purchase price. Both VAT and Stamp Duty are paid by the buyer. Any deposit paid before the sale is completed is subject to VAT at the moment the deposit is paid. In this type of sale there is no transfer tax to pay.
Resale from a private individual
Transfer Tax (ITP) applies when a property is sold for the second or subsequent time. In Catalonia the Transfer Tax (ITP – Impuesto sobre Transmisiones Patrimoniales) is now 8%, and is paid by the buyer. Where a deposit is paid before completion of the sale it is not subject to transfer tax, but the full amount of the transfer tax must be paid upon completion. In this type of sale there is no VAT and the stamp duty is already included in this tax.
Buying from a non-resident seller
When the seller is not a resident of Spain the buyer must withhold 3% of the purchase price and pay it to Hacienda, the Spanish tax authorities.


farmhouse2) Notary fees
In Spain the completion of a property sale is carried out by a Notary Public, with the notary fees paid by the buyer. Allow around 1% of the purchase price declared in the deeds of sale (escritura).


3) Land Registry Fees
In Catalonia the costs of registering the sale with the land registry (Registro de la Propiedad) are paid by the buyer, and are based on the purchase price declared in the deeds of sale. Allow about 1% of the purchase price.

4) Mortgage costs
To grant a mortgage a bank will require a property valuation, which is paid for the by the buyer, so budget 300-500 Euros for this. The costs of the mortgage itself may vary according to bank and branch; an opening fee of about 1% of the value of the mortgage is standard. Buying with a mortgage increases Notary fees.
To summarise, allow about 10% of the purchase price for taxes and other costs, 11-12% if you are taking out a mortgage.


5) Agency Fees
Real estate agency fees in Catalonia are paid by the seller, unless otherwise agreed. If the buyer uses a search agency, the search fees are paid by the buyer.


rural apartments tarragona6) Legal Fees
While not obligatory, many non-Spanish buyers hire a lawyer to supervise the buying process. A lawyer can draft and review contracts for you, explain legal and administrative issues, carry out due diligence (checking ownership, charges on the property, permits, etc.) and prepare the documentation needed to complete the sale.


7) Survey costs
You may want to have a structural survey of the property carried out. In Spain this task is usually carried out by an architect or technical architect.


8) Bank charges
The usual way to pay for a property in Spain is with a banker’s cheque drawn on a Spanish bank account, so you will need to transfer money from your country. Check how much your bank will charge you for these services. Remember, buyers outside the Euro zone can make save thousands of euros on transfer costs by using a specialist currency transfer company — contact me for no-obligation information.


Costs of owning a property in Spain
Maintenance costs like cleaning, repairing, refurbishing and utility bills, plus rural track contributions and rubbish collection, which are often charged by the local ayuntamiento (council).
Property Ownership Tax. (Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles – IBI), a local council tax charged whether the owner is a resident or not. Your estate agent can provide you with an up-to-date receipt.
Personal Income Tax. (Impuesto sobre la Renta de No Residentes – IRNR). Non-residents who own property in Spain pay a modest annual tax that varies according to whether the property is rented out or not. A lawyer or gestor can handle payment for you.
Community Fees. Property owners in developments or buildings with common areas shared with other owners are by law obliged to be members of the Comunidad de Propietarios — the community of owners.
Household insurance varies according the type of property: urban, rural, etc.

Hope this helps! As always I’d be very happy to answer any questions or help you find or sell a property, just email me at [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice.

 

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important property issues
including illegal builds and cedula de habitabilitat JULY 2010

We have friends who have had a property built only to find out later that it is illegal. I know there are others out there. My friend has spoken to his MEP, who has asked for more details and also if there are any other people here in a similar situation who would like to send their details to add to the database. The more people who reply, the more likely it is that a solution can be forced upon the government of Spain.
I have forwarded the email from the MEP's secretary. Perhaps some of your readers would like to add their details. regards, Lynn email address in for anyone who wants I can forward the letter to them.
lynn hanson <[email protected]>
From: ANDREASEN Marta OFFICE [mailto:[email protected]u]
Sent: 28 May 2010 13:31

Subject: Spanish Land Grab and other property issues in Spain

I am Accredited Parliamentary Assistant to Marta Andreasen MEP. I am currently updating our database on Spanish property issues, which contains your e-mail address. I would be grateful if you could let me know the following information by return of this e-mail. You may know of other people who might want to submit details - please forward the e-mail to them.
Feel free not to supply any or all of it as you see fit.
1) Name(s)
2) Postal address
3) Contact telephone number
4) Nationality
5) Position in relation to campaign
(e.g. homeowner/victim; activist; supporter; journalist; lawyer; other-please specify)
6) Location of property involved, if any (town/village and province)
7) Nature of problem
(e.g. Ley de Costas/demolition; bankrupt builder; corruption in local/central government; fraud; other-please specify)
8) Dates/timescale (approximate if necessary)
9) Are you aware of any involvement of European Union funding in any of your difficulties. If so please give details.
Thank you for your assistance

With best regards,
Andrew Kinsman
email: [email protected] or tel:00 32 2 284 7726
WE HAVE SPOKEN TO ANDREW KINSMAN ON THE TELEPHONE CONCERNING THE CEDULA DE HABITABILITAT PROBLEM HERE AND HE WAS NOT JUST UNAWARE OF THE PROBLEM BUT ALSO EXTREMELY SHOCKED AT THE NUMBER OF HOMES WHICH THEY ESTIMATE TO BE EFFECTED BEING 50,000 TO 60,000. HE HAS ASKED FOR INFORMATION TO BE SENT TO HIM SO ANYONE WHO HAS A RURAL PROPERTY PLEASE CONTACT HIM TO HELP GET THE PROBLEMS ADDRESSED.

 

A POTENTIAL PROBLEM WHILE LIVING THE LIFE IN SPAIN....... June 2010

funerals in spainfunerals spainThere are a few taboo subjects that people do not like to talk about, one of the subjects, encompasses death and the subsequent funeral for yourself or your loved ones.
Two things you can guarantee in life, taxes and that you will need some form of a funeral arrangement in the future and it is getting more costly every year. So even if you don’t want to plan it now, it makes sense to fix its cost by paying for it now, either by a lump sum or by paying for it monthly for up to 5 years which will guarantee the price to be locked in at today’s price.

golden leavesThe cost of funerals has historically increased above the normal levels of inflation and this is a theme that is predicted to continue. A funeral costing just £850 ten years ago would cost nearer £3,200 now. It is impossible to say what that cost might be in five or ten year’s time. So pre-paying now will save you, your family and your estate a great deal of money. Some people take the sensible attitude and plan for the cost of a funeral by having money set aside or putting into place an investment or savings plan (Insurance policy, ISA, TESSA or Endowment). The possible problem for this action could be the time it takes to cash it in, restrictions on early redemption or in this financial climate that it keeps up with the funeral increases.

The Spanish way of funerals can often lead to misunderstandings with the funeral having to be settled up front and the funeral having to be completed within 48 hours, leaving your loved ones confused and distressed, particularly when your family and friends are a long way from home. Will they know what to do, who can they call?

Pre-planning also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your planned arrangements will be conducted sensibly and in a dignified manner with respect to your wishes. One phone call and all your requirements in your plan will be carried out without any fuss. Therefore, alleviating the burden on your bereaved loved ones, relatives, or friends.

beneficial spainA Beneficial Funeral Plan, which is provided by Golden Leaves will deal with all these problems in a thoughtful and responsible way. This will give you peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in safe hands and that your funeral details are planned and well managed. The security of your plan’s funds is held securely in an independently managed Trust, which is tasked to manage stable long term growth, to cover the increasing costs of funeral services.

The services are available throughout Europe and other selected countries. Selected plans have a dual country option - this means they can be applied to a funeral in the UK or in the country in which you have chosen to live.

Take the thoughtful and responsible approach today and speak to your local agent, Beneficial Insurance Services. Telephone number 965791222 or email us at [email protected]

www.beneficialspain.com

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Grants (beques) available to families with children in infants, primary and secondary education June 2010

bequesbequesbeques

Now is the time to apply for grants for your children in the education system: you need to get the application in by the end of June for school meals (earlier than last year) and book grants need to be in by the end of September. Travel costs are applied for between the end of the year and the end of January. It is financially well worth doing so to help reduce these costs.

1) Grants for school meals - are available for up to 75% of the cost so it can work out that you pay as little as €1.50 per day. The amount charged for the dining room (menjador) service pays the company providing it for meals, for minding pupils, & for insurance during that time when the school is not responsible for pupils.
The Education Department directives here stipulate certain conditions for pupil's diets during the dinner hour, such as that fruit is provided, a sandwich is not considered adequate, etc. and that contributes to the costs.

book grants2) Grants for books. – this application has to be in by the end of September. Note: there are usually discounts for books for members of AMPA, the Parents Association.

3) Travel cost (desplaçament) grants in our region families qualifying for this grant are those living more than 4 km from the school/college, so the figure adds up to being a big help. If you live in a neighbouring area you can also check with the school to see if there is any agreement for schoolbus provision with your area to help reduce travel costs.

comedorschool meal grantsHOW to apply:


1) Either ask the school/college for what you need to apply, or

(2) contact the educadora social (education worker), whose role covers school-related issues within the community & who can help people can apply for all of these grants. People make an appointment through our Ajuntament office to see her and she helps with the paperwork. You need to have information about the family's income for the year, NIEs, Certificates for Empadronamnet &/or Certificat de Convivencia (for co-habiting, available from your Ajuntament), and your card for large families with many children if you have one (a card entitling you to various discounts/benefits).
education grants in spain

 

Taru Burstall, Agent d'acollida (information & facilitation service for English-speakers).
El Perelló Ajuntament, 977 490 007, [email protected]

 


 

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Property news update: what’s on the horizon June 2010

tax man

Phew, turbulent times indeed! Cancelled flights, volcanic clouds, rollercoaster financial markets and volatile exchange rates… Cameron and Clegg usher in a worrying New Era of austerity and public spending control.
Back in Spain and in the face of growing international fears for the country’s financial stability, president Zapatero —apparently persuaded by a phone call from Obama— drops his ‘no reduction in social policies’ mantra and announces a 5% civil service pay cut, a public sector salary/pension freeze and other drastic cost-saving plans.
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, fellow socialist and Generalitat President José Montilla reveals matching cuts, plus some extra measures that will affect anyone planning to buy or sell a property in Catalonia. Here’s a look at what’s in store:


Higher IVA tax in July
The Impuesto sobre Valor Añadido is the Spanish equivalent of the UK’s Value Added Tax. It is applied at three rates: 4%, 7% and 16%.
Last year the Spanish government announced plans to increase the 7% and 16% rate to 8% and 18% respectively (the extra-reduced 4% rate remains unchanged) to bring IVA more in line with VAT tax in other European countries. This comes into effect in July 2010.
On new-build properties IVA is currently charged at 7%, which will rise to 8% in July. So for example, on a new build apartment costing 100.000 euros, purchase costs will rise by 1.000 euros.
The decision to increase the tax this July was based on predictions that Spain would be halfway out of recession by then. But despite a few encouraging signs many fear that a hike in IVA rates will have a drastic effect on consumer spending.


Resale properties: planned increase in ITP tax
In Catalonia, the Generalitat apparently plans to increase the Impuesto sobre Transmisiones Patrimoniales from 7% to 8%. This is the tax buyers pay when they purchase a resale property.
While this does not mean a huge increase in the total cost of buying a property it will hardly help the market, which is finally beginning to show signs of recovery.
Another tax the Generalitat may increase is the Impuesto sobre Actos Jurídicos Documentados (IAJD), which would raise mortgage set-up costs.
So if you have found a property you really like, don’t delay and buy it!
tor fx

 

If you are transferring pounds to euros or vice versa, bear in mind that the exchange rate is extremely volatile. On the Monday after the UK election the exchange variation throughout the day could have made a difference of a few thousand euros on a 200.000 euro purchase.
Regardless of whether you are buying or selling, you can use a currency specialist to get the best rate. Contact me for me no-obligation information.


Cédulas for rural properties: no change in sight
Six months on from the sudden restriction on issuing habitation certificates for rural dwellings and despite rumours of high-level meetings behind the scenes, little seems to have changed.
Some sellers have apparently managed to sell by ‘rectifying’ the land registry description at the moment of sale, so the property is no longer described as a dwelling but as ‘a building’, thus removing the need for the cédula. But it remains to be seen if the banks will finance such properties…
Spanish rural homeowners in the Terres de l’Ebre area are now waking up to the fact that their rural houses are affected too. Some can no longer pay the mortgages granted before this ruling made their homes unsaleable.

Surely it is time local authorities, banks, notaries and land registries found an answer to this? Perhaps Obama should have another word with Zapatero…
In the mean time, if you have a cédula story please post it on Greg’s blog at http://ceduladehabitabilidad.wordpress.com, particularly if you have managed to get a cédula for a rural dwelling.


new buildAnd a little good news…
The Spanish government has reduced IVA on certain types of refurbishment work for primary homes owned by residents of Spain. Generally speaking, this means IVA will be applied at the 7% reduced rate (8% as from July) as opposed to the general rate of 16% (18% from July).
Eligible work includes:
- Structural work designed to improve a building’s stability or safety.
- Some structural extension work.
- Renovation of facades, internal patios and light/ventilation shafts.
- Refurbishment to improve disabled access.
- Improvements to windows and doors, electrical/plumbing installations, fire protection, energy efficiency and insulation.
So far I haven’t been able to find an English-language information source about how to get the reduced rate applied — I will try to find out for next month’s issue.
Remember that for this type of work the Generalitat has grants available too, apparently the application deadline is mid-June 2010. If you feel you could benefit, call the Generalitat’s 012 information line; they have English-speaking operators.


priorat town houseLocal market trends
Economic gloom and doom aside, things are surprisingly brisk in certain areas and price ranges, with predominantly Spanish/Catalan, French and Dutch buyers. I am seeing a good level of interest for houses on the Tres Cales estate up to 250.000 euros and strong demand for anything under 200k.
Barcelona residents are still buying cheaper village houses within a 2-hour drive of the Catalan capital; price cap is around 140.000 euros. Others want fincas with renovated houses, but usually require a mortgage, so a cédula de habitabilidad is generally needed. Price limit around 200.000 euros.
As always, comments welcome and please contact me if I can help you in any way!

Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter.
He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press.
Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice

 

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Cédula de Habitabilidad update – what you need to know april 2010

cedula-habitabilidadUnless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, you’ll probably be aware that in the Terres de l’Ebre area —that’s the Baix Ebre, Montsià, Terra Alta and Ribera d’Ebre comarcas— many country house owners can no longer get a habitation certificate, the cédula de habitabilidad. Here is the situation as I understand it.
Why is the cédula important?
Since April 2008 the law in Catalonia dictates that all properties registered as dwellings (viviendas, casas or 'casas de campo') at the Registro de la Propiedad (Land Registry) must have a cédula de habitabilidad, issued by the Habitatge department of the Generalitat. Without it the notary cannot conduct the sale and a buyer cannot get a mortgage.
Until late 2009 it was fairly simple to get this certificate, even for a rural dwelling.
However, a strict application of Generalitat decree 55/2009 now means that, at least in the Terres de l'Ebre area, NO habitation certificates are being issued for RURAL dwellings unless the local town council certifies that the house was built with a licence for a vivienda— i.e. a dwelling— or legalised as one with architect’s plans and a retrospective licence.
As country houses are often 30 or 40 years old and may have had several owners, this is not always possible to certify — and local councils may be unwilling or unable to do so. In many cases, any possible action for planning-related offences expired years ago.
The result is that many rural homeowners are now finding that they cannot sell or mortgage their properties. I hear that local notaries and land registrars have instructions from the Habitatge department not to sell or register them.
Previously, a buyer could freely renounce his or her right to the certificate. This is now only possible in very specific circumstances, such as when the house is to be rehabilitated or demolished.
The result is that lots of sellers and would-be buyers —and not just Brits— are seriously affected. Many are retired; some desperately need to sell for health reasons or face financial hardship.
fincacabanafinca

Which properties are affected?
Cédulas are required to sell properties that are registered at the Registro de la Propiedad as:
- viviendas
- casas
- casas de campo and casitas (if these are not habitable you can sell with a technical architect’s certificate)
If a building is not registered in this way or not indeed registered at all, no cédula should be needed to sell.
According to a local notary, it doesn’t matter if the building is registered as residential at the Catastro —the Spanish Treasury’s property tax register— and paying residential IBI rates (usually via the BASE collection agency). What counts is the way the property is described at the Registro de la Propiedad.
And in theory it shouldn’t affect almacenes, whether they are registered as such at the Registro de la Propiedad or not. You don’t need a cédula to sell them.
Townhouse in villages and house on residential estates should qualify for a cédula. The application process has become longer and more complicated though, so allow plenty of time if you are planning to sell.
Cédulas are not needed to inherit a country dwelling.
Why is this happening?
My suspicion is that a law aimed at rightly protecting homebuyers may also be intended to stop people living in the countryside altogether. Although it has to be said that local councils have turned a blind eye to illegal building in the campo for years, and that this problem is finally ‘coming home to roost’…
Rural homeowners, lawyers, notaries, bank managers, architects, estate agents… many are now aware of the situation and its grave implications. Perhaps we will see some pressure bought to bear on the Habitatge department.
Opinion seems to be that the Generalitat will have to do something to remedy this situation. Failing that, some believe the policy will be overturned by a higher-level Spanish court decision in the future. Spain being Spain though, no-one wants to guess how long it could take...
What can you do?
If you are affected or feel you might be, take your property paperwork to a notary —the one you used when you purchased for example— and ask them if you need a cédula in order to sell. Find out if your finca is located in a protected wildlife area like the PEIN, Xarxa natura 2000 or a natural park, as this could be an added problem. Find out if you are likely to get the cédula before you apply.
You can call 012 to find out if your property has ever had a cédula.
If you have been refused a cédula you have a month to appeal from the date you receive the letter: seek legal advice.
Complain to the ‘Síndic de Greuges’ —the Catalan Ombudsman, tel. 933 018 075, http://www.sindic.cat/en/page.asp?id=65. You can do this in English.
Let your your bank in Spain know about the problem, especially if you have a mortgage on your property.
Contact the British Consulate in Barcelona, or euro MPs like Marta Andreasen.
Greg at GoCatalunya.com has kindly set up a blog at http://ceduladehabitabilidad.wordpress.com to share info about this problem.
And last but not least, pressure groups have played a key role in fighting unjust Spanish property legislation like the Valencian land grab laws. Any volunteers out there?
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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new eu regulations from may 1 2010

health care cutsChanges to EHIC regulations affect British pensioners in Spain. Changes are underway to the system of issuing the European Health Insurance Cards to British expatriates living in Spain who are in receipt of a UK state pension. UK state pensioners are eligible for free public healthcare through the form E121 in Spain as their country of residence, and, just as with Spaniards travelling within Europe, may currently apply for the Spanish equivalent of the EHIC for temporary trips to another member state of the European Union. The card is known as the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea , and is available from Spain’s INSS Social Security Authority.

global healthBut that’s all set to change on 1st May next year when the UK will become responsible for issuing the EHIC to UK pensioners who are resident in other EU countries. It’s understood to be part of a new system to coordinate EU social security schemes which is to be implemented across member states next May. The imminent changes in the issue of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as required under the new Social Security Coordinating Regulations 883/2004 which come into effect on May 1 2010. As from that date the payment of a citizen’s health care, when using the EHIC, will also become the responsibility of the state issuing the form E121, which is available to Pensioners as well as those in receipt of long term sickness benefit and entitles them to state health care in Spain.

The UK is still working on its processes for the implementation of the new regulations and, according to a statement on the British Embassy’s website in Madrid, everyone it affects in all EU member states will be contacted once the processes have been finalised.

The Embassy notes that the INSS has issued some EHICs to British residents in Spain which are due to expire on 28th February 2010, based on a previous planned date for the new regulations to come into effect. The advice to anyone that may affect and who wishes to travel before the new system is in place is to contact the INSS for an extension to their EHIC.

The European Health Insurance Card covers travel in the EU’s 27 member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, where it is valid for unforeseen medical treatment during your trip.
Important information for UK State pensioners living in Spain appears in the official statement issued on the NHS web site see details below:
"Due to changes in European Union regulations, from May 1 2010 the United Kingdom may be responsible for the issue of your European Health Insurance Card instead of the member state where you live.

This will apply if you are a national of an EU member state and live in an EU member state, and you either:

* receive your state pension or other long-term benefit from the UK and you have registered the form E121 with the health authorities in the member state where you live; or
* you are dependent on a citizen working in the UK and have registered the form E109 issued by the UK

You will need to send your application by post. An application form, along with an explanatory letter, will be posted to you during February 2010. This application form will be different from the EHIC application form available in the UK, and will be modified to prove your entitlement to the new UK-issued EHIC card.

These cards will be sent out from April 2010 onwards. If you return your completed application form by the end of March 2010, your card should arrive before the new regulations come into force.

If you are not a national of an EU member state, or you live in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, then the country where you live will remain responsible for issuing your EHIC. In these circumstances, please contact the authorities in your country of residence."

For more information please call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. Or visit the NHS website.

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/Pages/EUregulations.aspx

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targeta sanitarioHealth Matters- kickstarting your health-card application (Targeta Sanitària) & the medical translation service March 2010

As all reputable complementary health professionals do, I like to work alongside existing medical services wherever possible and indicated, working together as a combined health team for our patient's benefit. Stereo vision usually helps, and whenever I have been health-challenged myself I have wanted all the available perspectives to make the best informed choices for myself.
body systemsHowever, a lot of us moving to this new country here find ourselves vulnerable & disempowered around our health needs because of the long delay in getting hold of the actual health card. Or forking out a lot on flights to get healthcare back home. Some people have applied for their health card, often at their local health centre, but may still be waiting for the card even up to a year later. This puts people off getting important medical help & check-ups that they need.
When this happened to me the local health centre explained that their help in passing on my application was discretionary, a favour, & that they were unfortunately therefore unable to help me follow up to see what had happened to my application. They advised me to go straight to the CatSalut (health service) office, so I went to the local office in Tortosa where the service was efficient & I was given a temporary document to cover me until the proper card itself was ready 2 weeks later.
So to get your long-awaited health card you can go direct to your local CatSalut office (eg. for Tortosa, C/ St Joan Baptista La Salle, 8, on the corner of La Salle & C/ Despuig, tel. 977 448 170).
health spainTo apply for the health card in the first place you need to provide proof of identity (passport/NIE), your Certificate of Empadronament (some places seem to ask for an original, not a copy), and to complete the application form, available at your local CAP (primary healthcare centre/doctors). Details of the targeta sanitària, eg.conditions for accessing it, etc., can be found on the government´s health service website: http://www10.gencat.net/catsalut/eng/index.htm, (you can access an English language version), or tel. 902 111 444. The CAISS office (Centre for Attention & Information for Social Security) is also useful for information about health cards - our local office, for example, has 2 people who speak English & very helpfully field enquiries.
Another useful service is Sanitat Respon, a translation service where you & your doctor can call a translator during your consultation: phone 902 111 444. Translation is available in English & other languages, such as Arabic, Rumanian, etc.
healthAlso good is the internet service where you can change a doctor´s/clinic appointment by entering your health card number into the webpage www.catsalut.cat
And finally, of course, it's always good to know the emergency medical number here, 061.
So, good luck with being well-prepared and informed about your healthcare.
Taru Burstall, Licensed Acupuncturist & Psychotherapist , Massage Therapist, 629 301 509, [email protected]

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PROBLEM SURGERY JAN 2010

PROBLEM SOLVINGEarlier in the year a friend of ours died. In the course of time we went to the notary's with his widow to change the escritura into her name. But this is when the interesting bit came up: They were not actually married although they had been living together for 15 years. The property was in both their names and they had mirror wills that left everything to each other, but as they were not married nor declared in an official way as a couple the inheritence tax was going to be double. Now when you have just lost someone and furthermore the second income the last thing you need then is to have a tax bill that is twice what it need have been.
So we have been sorting out other people who are in a similar situation. It comes out at under 100Euros to sort the situation out. People do not tend to think that they might die unless they are old and in poor health but no one can guarantee that an accident is not going to happen. It is selfish not leaving things in order for the remaining partner.
If this applies to any reader and they want a helping hand then please direct them to us.
Problem Surgery
Ground Floor Casa de Cultura
El Perelló
Tuesdays 11.00-12.30 TEL: 634 495 572

PS Have you heard about the latest way that thieves are trying to stop victims around Barcelona? They fire an airgun pellet which makes a hell of a noise inside the car. I know, it happened to me. Your first instinct is to pull over but you must not. They are driving a posh Mercedes which of course does not immediately make you think of thieves. If you are in doubt stop at the next toll gate but you will not notice any damage until you look carefully for a tiny indentation left by the pellet. Take the number plate of the car and if there is anybody else in the car get them to phone the Mossos 018 while you are driving, there is an English speaking person available to report to.
Hope this helps
Jo-Ann

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el perelloExpanded regional welcome service for the Baix Ebre Comarca : agents d'acollida (welcoming agents)REUS Nov 2009

helpThroughout Catalunya there is a network of agents d'acollida, workers who speak the language of the main groups of foreigners moving here ('novingudes', or newcomers). Their role is to help make the process of arriving here & adjusting easier, and facilitate access to opportunities for integration & participating. This network has been broadened with the addition of an English speaker, Taru Burstall, working part-time to assist the English speaking community of the El Perelló area. She will work through the local Ajuntament office with an office in the village's Casa de Cultura. There are existing welcome agents, speaking Arabic and Romanian, for the Camarles, Roquetes and L'Aldea areas, and the regional team will also work together to help welcome English speakers in the broader Comarca area.

help centreThis service is part of the Catalan Government's 2005 Plan on Citizenship and Immigration, which defines as catalan citizens all those of us who live in Catalunya. It contains strategies to improve equality of access to basic services and human rights in areas such as work, health, education, housing, etc. Many of us find that when we move here we can feel disempowered due to the language challenges and difficulties in finding out basic information. This can range across many key areas, such as knowing how to get the health card and medical services here; understanding what the school is saying about our kids or help for school book/travel costs; knowing what is on offer in the local community, where and when classes are; or finding out how to navigate the employment system to get work or take up training opportunities - all kinds of things that directly affect our quality of life, sense of independence and ability to participate & integrate if we want to.

open doorThe agent d'acollida's role is also to facilitate cross-cultural activities and opportunities to learn more about each other's cultures. Catalunya has historicallly been a culturally diverse society, benefitting from newcomers' input. Young catalan people particularly, for example, are keen to get to know the English language & culture, often with a view to spending time there later, & a network of language practice/exchange, including castilliano, could help many of us.

When: This facilitation & information service will be available on Wednesday & Friday evenings from 5-7 pm
Where: Sala de exposició, Casa de Cultura, Carrer Colom, El Perelló (the first floor, underneath the library)
How: Please phone the Perello Ajuntament on 977 490 007 & ask for an appointment to meet with Taru. People from other townships can ring their local Ajuntament to find out about the available agent d'acollida service for their area.

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cedula_habitabilidad

 

Getting a Cédula de Habitabilidad: important changes for country properties Feb 2010

A belated Happy New Year to everyone, and let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the snow for a while! 2010 is well and truly underway and with it changes in the world of local property. Here’s one new development that could affect you if you’re selling a country dwelling in Catalonia.  

 

 


se vendeviewterreno

cedula_habitabilidadHabitation certificates: new requirements 
Since April of 2008, to sell, rent or get a mortgage on any resale property registered at the Land Registry as a dwelling —vivienda in Spanish— you must have a habitation certificate—the cédula de habitabilidad.
This certificate is issued by the Habitatge department of the Generalitat, and lasts for fifteen years.
It requires an inspection and a simple, stamped report from a technical architect (aparejador), and usually takes about a month to come through.
However, changes over the last two months mean that cédulas for dwellings built on rural land (suelo rústico) now also need a special document from the local council, stating:


-That there are no proceedings or fines, current or pending, for breaches against planning regulations
-If the property was built with a licence for a dwelling (quite rare in the campo), and if not, that any past breaches against planning regulations have expired. 
-The exact zoning classification of the land on which the house is built
-The age of the building


cedula_habitabilidadAs this requirement is either new or has only recently been enforced, my impression is that most local councils have so far issued few documents of this type for the purposes of issuing a cédula (lawyers acting for buyers regularly ask for this information of course).
Consequently, my guess is that councils will err on the side of caution and may well require extra documentation from the owner. This can all lead to delays — not what you want if you are in the process of selling your property.
So if you have a house in the campo for sale or are thinking of selling one, get the cédula application underway as soon as you can: remember, you cannot sell without it and it’s essential for a mortgage.
Your estate agent should be able to organise this for you, but most technical architects can also handle the application for you.
I am also hearing about cases where notaries require a cédula when the house to be sold is registered at the Land Registry as a casa de campo. If you are selling one, you might want to contact your notary, lawyer or real estate agent to check.
The Generalitat’s 24-hour 012 phone helpline is a good source of information about cédulas, and usually have English-speaking operators too.
Not all country properties qualify for the cédula of course. I believe the value of those that do will remain steady and eventually rise — the supply of well-built, legal houses in good rural locations is limited.


fincaMarket check: what buyers are looking for now
Right now I’m seeing considerable interest in the following:
Barcelona dwellers are on the lookout for village townhouses. 3 or 4 bedrooms are the most in demand, and buyers will pay up to 75.000 euros for houses to reform and up to around 130.000 euros for houses that are habitable. Good vehicle access, natural light and outside space like a terrace are all plus points.
3-bed villas for 200.000 euros or less, on coastal residential estates like Tres Cales. I have some mainly Spanish potential buyers looking for a keen bargain. Own/community pool and garden area are the plus points, as is good rental potential.
Fincas with registered, 3-bed dwellings up to 10km from the coast. Buyers are looking for a year-round residences with good views, and will pay up to 250.000 euros. Non 4x4 access, electricity and/or water are all pluses. Buyers include Spaniards, French, Dutch, Belgians and Brits.
Fincas with 2-3 bed casas de campo or similar, habitable or needing non-structural refurb. Buyers looking for a weekend retreat, prepared to pay up to 140.000 euros. Inland or coastal locations, water and good access are important.


As always, please drop me an email at
[email protected] if I can help you in any way.
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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Spanish property trends and tips for 2010

HOMEChristmas is coming round again and the end of the year looming fast — where does the time go!? While 2009 hasn’t been an easy year in the property world, things are starting to move again. Time to take stock and look forward to the New Year, so here goes…


How low can prices go?
While Spain’s economy remains in poor shape and unemployment sadly continues to rise, indications are that property prices are now dropping at a substantially slower rate. The October 2009 valuation index from TINSA —Spain’s leading appraisal company and one of the few sources of reliable information— confirms this.
We are seeing a gradual but steady increase in enquiries and sales, with interest from Spanish, French, Dutch and Belgian buyers, mainly looking for second homes. They all have one thing in common: they are after a bargain and only buy if they feel they have a really good deal.
The perception is that prices will bottom out towards the end of 2010, so these buyers are starting to look now.
While the banks are still extremely cautious we are seeing more mortgages granted, an encouraging sign.


FRENCH BUYERS TRES CALESWhich properties will sell in 2010?
Barcelona area buyers will be looking for cheap 2-4 bed townhouses in villages, especially those less than two hours’ drive from the city. In Tarragona province they will pay up to 130.000 Euros for houses in good condition, less if renovation is required. Picturesque and well-known locations like Miravet, Tivissa and la Vilella Baixa are always popular, as is anywhere near the coast.
French, Belgian and German buyers will continue to buy easy-to-maintain and rentable second homes along the coastal strip, whether in the countryside (not too remote) or on popular estates like Les Tres Cales.
Many Dutch, Irish and Brits will still look for good deals in scenic locations in inland areas. Media coverage of illegal properties in Spain mean that buyers are very aware of potential problems. If you plan to sell a country house in 2010, be sure to deal with any potential obstacles as early as possible.


PRIME LOCATIONSIncreased interest in rentals
Rental enquiries are up from Spanish and French clients looking for long-term lets. While many people in countries like France rent rather than buy their homes, Spain has one of the highest percentage of home—and second home— owners, so perhaps the Spanish government’s efforts to foment rental culture are working.
Right now we have a few Catalan clients looking for nice farmhouses with land in production, available for long-term lets of up to five years.
I’m also seeing more enquiries for rentals for small tourism-based businesses.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that rentals with option to buy are becoming very popular with Spanish buyers, particularly those that can’t get finance to purchase right now.


Grants for refurbishing your home
Every spring the Generalitat —Catalonia’s autonomous government— makes a limited number of grants available for reforming older properties.
They are for first homes of full-time residents of Spain, aimed to help with things like making houses compliant with habitation and sanitary standards, re-wiring, insulation, installing new bathrooms and adapting dwellings for the handicapped.
As you might expect, they will involve bureaucratic procedures and a fair amount of paperwork…
They could make all the difference to the viability of a renovation project though, so if you are planning to refurbish check now to see if you qualify and get information ready for next year.
Funds available in any year are limited, so it’s vital to get your application in as soon as grants become available.
For more information, call the Generalitat’s 012 information helpline and ask to speak to the ‘habitatge’ department. English and French-speaking agents are available.


Renegotiate your mortgage
With the Euribor index at a historic low, now is an excellent time to renegotiate or change your Spanish mortgage.
Check out rates at overseas-based banks that are keen to increase their market share in Spain, like Deutsche Bank or Barclays.


TOR FXMaximise your currency exchange
For anyone selling a property and moving back to the UK the current sterling-euro exchange rate is a blessing. But I’m still surprised how many sellers negotiate a good sale price but then don’t use a currency exchange service to maximise the money they make.
The right exchange rate can mean making or losing thousands on a transfer, and you can fix a rate for a set period in the future too.
If you’re buying a property here then a good exchange rate is just as important, while new services mean you can also save money on smaller transfers like pension payments.
Drop me an email at [email protected] if you would like more information. Finally, I’d like to wish all Olive Press readers a Bon Nadal/Feliz Navidad/Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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Off the beaten track: discovering the Cardó valley SEPT 2009

CARDO  GENERALBack in 1987 when I first visited Benifallet, my future wife took me to one of the most spectacularly beautiful places I had ever seen then or since: the valley of Cardó. From the centre of Rasquera a narrow road wound its way past the Ermita de Sant Domingo, up through a lush landscape of green pastures, almond groves and pines.
After a few miles steep limestone cliffs loomed on the left. On our right a sheer drop with astounding views of the Costumà valley and distant mountains. With a few worn concrete bollards between us and a very long drop; we edged along the mountain-ledge road, hoping we wouldn’t meet another car coming down!


Then we passed through a small tunnel and into the valley of Cardó, to a breathtaking view of the old spa, perched on a huge cliff with a backdrop of dense forests and mountains.


At that time you could just walk into the derelict hotel, and it was eerie to wander through abandoned halls to the old dining room, with its once-splendid terrace and incomparable views.
My father in law worked at the spa until it closed in the 1960’s. He spoke fondly of a lost era, when its now overgrown grounds and paths were impeccably kept, and innumerable springs and streams trickled through the woods…


CARDO ERMITAThe monastery, hermits and the barefoot monks
The spa has a long history though, and was originally the monastery of Sant Hilari de Cardó, founded by the barefoot Carmelite order in 1605. Around it the monks built eleven hermitages in cliff top locations with difficult access but sublime views. Some still stand today.
The monastery grew rich; historic livestock routes passed through Cardó and the monastery levied a heavy tolls on herders and local farmers alike.
But Spain’s economy gradually declined, and in the first Carlist war the monastery was seized by the state. In 1836 the monks fled Cardó. Objects of value were sold, the library’s books were burned, and the monastery buildings gradually crumbled into ruin.


The golden age of the spa resort
In 1866 a group of Tortosa entrepreneurs, attracted by the medicinal qualities of the water, decided to set up a spa. Between 1870 and 1874 they converted the monastery buildings into a hotel.
It became a great success with Barcelona’s new bourgeoisie, helped in 1904 by the new road from Rasquera: visitors could now come from the railway station at Mora. At its peak Cardó was a fashionable resort with an army of locally-recruited staff.


The 1930’s saw turbulent times once more, and in the Spanish Civil War Cardó served as a local headquarters of the International Brigades and a Republican field hospital during the battle for the Ebro.
In 1940 the spa opened again, but hampered by outdated facilities and the rise of beach resorts, closed in 1965.
In the 1970’s the property was sold and a water-bottling plant set up, later acquired by Nestlé, then by the Pascual group. Their modern plant lies just below the old spa buildings, employed a handful of local people, and closed in 2007.
MONASTERYCardó today
For those that loved and remembered Cardó, the arrival of the water plant must have been a heavy blow. Its springs were tapped at source; the sound of running water to be heard no more… Today Cardó is a wild, beautiful but somehow slightly sad place.
However, better times may soon be at hand. The Pascual Group’s long-mooted plans to turn the old hotel into a five-star spa resort finally appear to be progressing, with a new promoter to be announced soon.
Initial plans project a luxury hotel with 91 rooms —with 40 ‘thermal suites’— plus apartments and a spa. The bottling plant is set to become a thematic village, with space for local artists, craftsmen and potters. A new access road to the spa from Benifallet is rumoured. Perhaps Cardó will relive its golden years?
For now it really is worth a visit if only for the fantastic drive—the reconditioned road is now perfectly safe! Good walks include the gentle stroll to the Ermita de la Columna, the track to the Creu de Santos and the steep hike up to the centuries-old yew grove of the Font de Teix. The mountains above Cardó are densely forested with both pines and deciduous trees, delightful in autumn.
Fauna includes wild boar, foxes, badgers, wild cats, martens, various species of eagles and owls, while flora includes orchids and many types of wild herbs. Cardó is part of a PEIN protected wildlife area, so camping and lighting fires are prohibited
How to get there: by the Bar Martí and drinking fountain at the beginning of the Carrer Pla de la Bassa in Rasquera, look for the signpost to Cardó on your left. The TV-3021 local road takes you to the old spa, distance is about 10km.
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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Off the beaten track: discovering the Priorat JULY 2009

GRAPESPRIORAT WINEWINE

PRIORAT MAPJust over 30 minutes’ drive inland from the Costa Dorada’s beaches, the Priorat wine region is like stepping back into a remote and different world. Quiet country roads wind round dramatic rocky terrain and steeply-terraced vineyards, many of which can only be harvested by hand.


The area’s harsh, slate soil —known as llicorella— and abundant sunshine produce some of Spain’s finest and most expensive wines, blending local Grenache and Cariñena grapes with international varieties like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


Over the last decade, young winemakers from around the world have settled here to produce strong, intense reds of great character that have won international prestige and acclaim.


Winemaking has a long history in the Priorat though, back to the Middle Ages and the Carthusian monks of the La Cartoixa D’Escaladei monastery. The region’s name stems from the ‘Prior’ of this powerful order, who ruled over the present-day Priorat area and beyond. The region also produces outstanding olive oil, made from the small arbequina olives.


Until recently one of Catalonia’s poorest comarcas (counties), the Priorat’s green and stunning countryside has remained virtually unchanged —apart from some startlingly avant-garde winery buildings— while its timeless villages retain their traditional stone houses and quiet charm.
So why not take a day out and explore this fascinating corner of Catalonia? Here are a few of my favourites:


Falset
La-Villela-BaixaCapital and winemaking centre of the Priorat, Falset is a small but bustling town clustered around a pretty square with porched arcades, and a distinctive, Modernista-style wine cooperative. Selection of wine shops and restaurants (try La Quinoa for a sophisticated, excellent value weekday menú del día).


La Vilella Baixa
One of the areas’ most picturesque villages, nicknamed the ‘New York of the Priorat’ for its spectacular seven and eight storey buildings overlooking a stream.
The narrow road from La Vilella Baixa to Scala Dei, Poboleda and Cornudella is particularly scenic —watch out for the space age hilltop bodegas!—but not recommended to anyone that gets car sick.


Scala Dei, the ‘stairway to heaven’
Headquarters of the Priorat wine DO (denomination of origin), a visit to this tiny hamlet is a must. Bars, restaurant, wine shop and tasting.
About a mile away the ruined monastery of La Cartoixa de Scala Dei is well worth a visit too, with its reconstruction of a monk’s cell.
La-Morera-de-Montsant__The holy mountain: Montsant
The little village of Morera de Montsant nestles at the foot of the fantastic cliffs of the sierra de Montsant range, a natural park. Seemingly impossible paths snake up the mountain; some involve sheer drops, rocks overhanging very narrow paths and iron rings hammered into the rock!
Once you’re at the top —on a clear day you can see the Pyrenees— a network of paths lead through beautiful scenery with streams, pools, caves and woodland. It’s easy to get lost though (particularly in autumn), so go with a local guide unless you’re an experienced excursionist.
A good place to stop for lunch is the Venta de Pubill, where the T-702 Poboleda road meets the C242. An old coaching inn, it serves traditional Catalan cuisine with fresh ingredients at a reasonable price. Great for hearty breakfasts too.


Siurana
Tiny, quaint hilltop hamlet with a Romanic church and ruined castle, and fabulous views of the surrounding mountains and reservoir below. Siurana is a Mecca for rock climbers worldwide, and you will be sure to see some on the spectacular drive up to the village. There is a campsite, a mountain refuge, a bar and a restaurant.
Siurana is rich in legends, and was one of the last Moorish villages to surrender to the Christian re-conquest, after a long and bitter siege.


Porrera
Large, picturesque village much loved by Barcelona weekender's; Catalan singer-songwriter and cultural icon Lluís Llach has a home and winery nearby. Porrera suffered substantial damage in catastrophic floods in 1994.


LA TORREPradell de la Teixeta - La Torre de Fontaubella - Marçà

The route through these pretty villages runs through softer countryside, close to one of Catalonia’s loveliest train rides: the Reus to Mora line. A large ruined masia near Marçà was headquarters of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.


Fincas Direct new website!

After what seems like an age, I’m happy to say that my new website is finally live and online at www.fincasdirect.com.

I hope to gradually add more content and information, time permitting! Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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DRIVING IN SPAIN MAY 2009

SAFE DRIVINGWe have received a number of emails asking if the law has changed recently regarding the re-registration of UK plated vehicles.
It hasn’t. The law remains the same.
UK registered vehicles in Spain can only remain on UK plates for up to 182 days in any 365 then they either have to leave the country for a full, continuous six months or be re-registered with Spanish national plates.
During the first six months before it is re-registered it must remain fully road legal in the country of registration i.e. it must display a current, valid UK tax disc and it must have a current, valid MOT from the UK. A Spanish ITV is not valid on a UK registered vehicle.
Trailers are treated exactly like cars and must be re-registered within six months. Trailers must have a Ficha Tecnica, current ITV and liability insurance.
Safe driving. By Chris Dann, Car Import Spain www.carimportspain.com tel 689 178 319

ADVICE FOR DRIVING IN SPAIN 

 

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NEWS RELEASE
NEW MASONIC LODGE PLANNED IN THE COSTA AZAHAR

masonic lodge
square and compassA group of British Freemasons who now live in Spain is planning to start a new Masonic Lodge based in Vinaros later this year. They are inviting Masons and people who might consider joining to get in touch so they can join the development from its beginning.
In Britain, Freemasons have adopted an open door policy in recent years to demonstrate that many myths and suspicions about the ancient brotherhood are unfounded and ill-informed. Modern Masonry in Spain is still relatively new, having been re-instated in 1987. The first English speaking lodge was formed a year later in Javea.
Two years ago, White River Lodge – which carries out its ceremonies in English – was established in Valencia and some masons from Vinaros and further north enjoyed the opportunity of continuing an affiliation they had to leave behind when they moved from Britain to Spain.
Now, with encouragement from their colleagues in Valencia, a venue has been found in Vinaros for monthly meetings once the new Lodge is formally consecrated at the end of this year.
lodgeEdward Ward, who lives in Riba Roja is to be the first Master of the new lodge and says he is delighted to be actively involved in the movement again. Edward had enjoyed sharing in a number of lodges in the Bristol area before he and his wife moved to Calatunia.
Mr Ward says; “I am delighted that we have a nucleus of people who share the same aspirations and enjoy their membership of Freemasonry. Many people who might consider joining us are reassured encouraged by the fellowship we enjoy and heartened to see sums of charity money raised to help worthy and needy causes in Spain. It is a sure sign that masonry is international.”
The new lodge will be recognized by the governing body of freemasons in Spain, the Gran Logia d’Espana, which means that fellowship will be shared with existing Spanish speaking lodges in Castellon and Tarragona. Many of their members are looking forward to the dedication of the lodge in Vinaros.
The new group is looking for Masons, former Masons and would-be initiates (new members of Freemasonry) to join them during the coming months. They are willing to answer any questions about what is involved and to welcome people to this new and exciting project.

Contact for more information:-
In Cataluna – Edward Ward
977 416 476
[email protected]

In Vinaros and Costa Azahar
– Les Beech 678 357 713
[email protected]

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What you need to know about buying a property in Spain: a quick guide-Aug 09

spainSummer is here once more, and the Costa Dorada with its relaxed, easy-going lifestyle seems so much more attractive than back home!


Perhaps you’re visiting for the first time, or maybe you have friends and family here and already know the area. Either way, you might be thinking that the time has come for you to buy a property in Spain. With falling prices, an improving exchange rate and good buys to be had, right now is a great time to buy.


So how do you get started? Read on: buying a property here is actually much simpler than you might expect.

 


spanish casa se vendeTwo things you must have
1) An account with a Spanish bank.
Opening a 'cuenta corrient' —a current account— in Spain is quite simple: you just need your passport. Choose a bank with English speaking staff that can help you with finance, services and money transfers, and make sure it provides easy-to-use Internet banking in English, so you can easily keep track of your account.
2) An NIE number - the foreigners’ fiscal ID number
Non-Spanish buyers must have an NIE number in order to buy a property in Spain, and a non-Spaniard selling a Spanish property needs one too.
For EU citizens, getting an NIE number is easy and the only charge is a small tax — less than 10 euros. See our buyers’ guide at http://www.fincasdirect.com/en/buying-in-spain.html for more info.


soldFinding a property
There are lots of factors to take into account of course, but most importantly (particularly with country properties):
- Is the building legal and registered?
- Will I get planning permission to extend, reform or rebuild?
- Will I be able to resell later if I need to?
We have good local contacts with town halls and planning departments, and can help you choose the right property and avoid problems later on.


Carrying out a survey
Structural surveys are not automatically carried out here as part of the purchase process. Unlike developers of new properties that must have insurance to cover possible problems, sellers of resale properties are not necessarily liable for structural defects.
Surveyors can also advise you about planning issues and the scope and price of any work needed.


presentNegotiating the price
Most sellers are now prepared to consider sensible offers, with very few holding out for the full asking price, so feel free to haggle!
At this stage you need to know the costs and expenses involved, which come to roughly 10% of the purchase price (more if you take out a mortgage), and are:
- Notary's fees
- VAT and Stamp Duty
- Land Registry Fees
For detailed info see our buyers’ guide at http://www.fincasdirect.com/en/buying-in-spain.html.


beachfront propertiesSecuring the property: the deposit contract
While you can go straight to completion, once a price is agreed it’s usual to sign a private contract with the seller — the contrato de arras. This details:
- Property to be sold
- Purchase price
- Completion date (usually 2 or 3 months from signing the contract)
- Deposit paid (usually 10%)
- Any special conditions
The 10% deposit is not refundable if the buyer pulls out. But if the seller pulls out or fails to meet the contract conditions, he or she must refund the buyer double the deposit paid.
This arrangement protects both parties, affords peace of mind, and greatly reduces any risk of ‘gazumping’.


country propertiesCompletion: signing the Escritura
The sale is carried out by a state-approved Notario —a Notary Public— who prepares the Escritura Pública de Compraventa —the Deed of Transfer— in accordance with Spanish Law.
Before the sale, the Notary checks that the property is registered in the seller’s name, and knows if there are mortgages or other charges that must be cleared.
The Notary acts in the interests of the State, and doesn’t represent the buyer or the seller. But Spanish notaries are generally very helpful, and can provide detailed information and advice. Some speak English.


Registering the Deed of Transfer and paying expenses
After the sale the buyer has to pay taxes.
Most notaries can do the tax payment and registration process for you. If you are using an independent lawyer, he or she will often handle it. Either way, you will be asked to make a payment to cover estimated costs.
The Transfer Deed is then recorded in the Land Registry and the property put in the new owner’s name. This usually takes around six weeks.
2-3 months later the formal Escritura document will be ready for you to collect.
As always I’d be very happy to answer any questions or help you find a property, just email me at [email protected]!
The points contained in this article do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Prospective property buyers should seek independent legal advice before paying a deposit.
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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10 TIPS TO HELP YOU SELL YOUR HOME JUNE 2009

FOR SALESOLD

With so many homes in Spain for sale right now, buyers really are spoilt for choice. Gone are the days when they would hesitate before making a cheekily low offer, so be sure to maximise your property’s appeal and don’t give buyers any extra opportunities to negotiate a price reduction.

COSTASUNSET


Avoid spending too much money on your property trying to ‘do it up’ to sell — simple cosmetic improvements are the most worthwhile in the current market. Ask your real estate agent what’s worth doing, and keep it simple.

CLEAN UP

1. Kerb appeal. Entrances, drives, facades, outside areas etc. are the first thing prospective buyers see, and first impressions are the strongest. These areas should be neat and well presented. A freshly painted facade, front door etc. can make a big difference.

 


2. Clean up. It sounds obvious, but dirty windows, dusty furniture, stale smells etc. are a total turn-off for potential buyers. Get everything clean and sparkling, air your home before a viewing, and be sure to get rid of pet odours.

 


DECLUTTER3. De-clutter. Clear mantelpieces, windowsills, dressers and tables of unnecessary clutter. This can make rooms look bigger and focuses attention on your house, not your possessions. If you have lots of personal photos, consider removing some: they can be distracting.
Also, a spare room can easily get full of junk — try to clear it out before a viewing.

 


4. Repaint walls and ceilings in light, neutral colours if they aren’t already. If you can’t redecorate throughout, at least repair any paintwork that’s flaking or in poor condition, especially anything that could appear to be damp-related.
KITCHENS

 

5. Kitchen makeovers. The kitchen is the heart of any home and, along with the living room, is the area that buyers will focus on most.
If your kitchen is looking tired but doesn’t warrant a full refit, you can update old-fashioned kitchen units by replacing just the cabinet fronts.
A new work surface can make a huge improvement, especially if you change the sink too. It’s worth bearing in mind that Spanish buyers favour granite-type worktops over laminate ones, even in a holiday home.


6. Update light fittings. Give your property a brighter, cared-for feeling by updating light fittings, ideally with ones that use halogen or low energy bulbs. Many solar/generator-powered country properties are very dimly lit, something I find often puts off buyers: improvements are worth considering. And when you have a viewing, remember to turn all lights on and open blinds etc., before buyers arrive.


MINIMAL7. Home staging. Staging is the art of preparing a home for a sale, and many techniques cost next to nothing to implement. You’ll find plenty of information on the internet.
Get a few home magazines for inspiration (include Spanish ones), find a simple, unfussy look to emulate, and pamper, de-clutter, polish and tidy your house.


8. Buyers respond to light. No-one likes gloomy interiors so make the most of natural light sources and supplement with lamps, candles and mirrors and reflective surfaces.


9. Use scents that say “home”... fresh baked bread or cakes, cinnamon, vanilla and fresh coffee subtly create a welcoming atmosphere for buyers. The most important? Fresh air, so be sure to open all windows and air out the house before a viewing.


DRESS

 

10. Sell smart. Finally, you, the seller. People buy people (and lifestyles), and few will be impressed if you answer the door in a dirty track suit with food debris down the front! I’m not suggesting you don your choicest Armani togs to show your finca, but it’s a thought worth bearing in mind.


PROPERTY OF THE MONTHProperty of the month.
Edge of village, near Ports natural park, 25 min. from Tortosa, 3 storey, 100m2 (approx) townhouse to reform, structurally sound, ideal for village home or holiday retreat. Good views and access. 49.900 euros, ref. PL042_vigaferro, email [email protected].


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. As always I’d welcome any comments or feedback, just email me at [email protected]! The points contained in this article do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press, and owners of holiday rental properties should seek legal, professional or tax advice if in doubt.

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HOLIDAY RENTALSSEVEN TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY RENTALS

 

Experienced rental owners here tell me that holiday let bookings are still relatively healthy, despite the economic climate and adverse pound-euro rate. The various new Ryanair flights to Reus will doubtless help too. So if you’re thinking of offering your guest apartment, townhouse or finca as a holiday let, here are a few basic common-sense tips.

HOLIDAYS


DOG VACATION1) Plan rooms, create the right feel
Use mirrors, soft furnishings, cushions and pictures to create a light, spacious feel and add touches of colour. This makes for great photos — essential for attracting online clients. Avoid over cluttering though, and don’t make the room feel so personal that guests feel they’re intruding!
Tip: if your living room has a great view make sure your chairs and sofas are positioned to make the most of it.
2) Furniture: the right amount
Choose attractive furniture and don’t overcrowd a room. Dark rooms packed with furniture feel claustrophobic —especially in hot weather— and will definitely not look good in your advertising pics.
Tip: get a wall length mirror. Most people on holiday want to enjoy a few evenings out, and will appreciate being able to admire their new finery!
RENTAL3) Practical and easy to clean
It goes without saying that a spotless apartment or house is vital for repeat bookings and recommendations, so make it easy by choosing furniture that’s quick and easy to clean. Glass furniture can look good but dust, marks and smears will all show, plus families with small children will worry about low glass coffee tables, etc. Dark/black furniture also tends to show every speck of dust.
Tip: use curtains rather than blinds. They can be cleaned easier, gather less dust and can’t break.
4) Double bed, twin beds, sofa-bed?
A common dilemma is what beds to buy, so start by thinking of your target audience. If your house or finca is near the Ebro, twin beds in every room can maximise your rentals to fishermen, while a double in the master room and twin beds in the others may be better if you’re targeting families. Provided your accommodation is large enough, you can put in a sofa bed and offer, say, a 2 bed apartment to 5/6 guests.
Tip: avoid bed bases with flimsy wooden slats, which tend to break easily. Not what your guests want on a romantic weekend!
5) Hot water, electricity, lights, fittings
Check your water heater can provide sufficient hot water when guests all shower or bath at the same time.
Turn various appliances on at the same time to make sure your fuse box can cope—you may need to up your electricity supply.
Choose simple light fittings with standard, easy-to-change light bulbs, and avoid elegant designer-look lamps that get alarmingly hot to the touch…
Tip: if you are not on-hand, keep spare bulbs available so guests can change their own. No-one wants to spend their holiday hunting for a bulb for the bathroom!
6) Kitchen items and other equipment
GOOD KITCHENPeople choose holiday rentals over hotels or B&Bs because they like extra space and a home-from home-environment — especially if they have children. Not having to eat out every day is a key attraction too, so make sure your kitchen is suitably equipped.
Cook a few meals in your guest accommodation and list everything missing, like bottle openers, ice cube trays, oven dishes, plastic plates/cups for children or eating al fresco… If for example you have a 2 bed apartment that can sleep 6, be sure to provide the extra cutlery, plates and seating arrangements!
Tip: thoughtful touches like a hairdryer, mains adaptors or a universal phone charger can make all the difference to how guests remember you.
7) Better safe than sorry…
Spain may still lag behind northern Europe on safety issues and legislation, but it’s catching up fast. Make sure your accommodation is safe, particularly steps, stairs and swimming pools. Advertising should clearly state if your accommodation is not suitable for small children or handicapped guests. If you’re targeting families with young children, don’t leave anything breakable or valuable within reach.

Must: check the legal requirements for renting a property, make sure you have adequate insurance cover, and use a contract for every rental, even if it’s just for a weekend.
As always I’d welcome any comments or feedback, just email me at [email protected]!

Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

The points contained in this article do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press, and owners of holiday rental properties should seek legal, professional or tax advice if in doubt.

 

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REFORMING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN: 7 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID APRIL 09

REFORMING PROP

RENOVATIONWhether they’re rebuilding an old stone barn or transforming a Catalan townhouse into a Spanish dream home, somehow property owners don’t always take into account that they may need to sell in the future.


As a real estate agent, I naturally get to see a wide range of reformed resale properties. Sadly, lack of attention to common sense basics at the planning stage can create obstacles to a sale a few years down the line.


This becomes acute when the supply of properties exceeds demand of course, so if you’ve bought an old house to renovate or are building new, be sure to think things through carefully before you hire an architect or start building—especially if you will be doing the work yourself. 


1) How many bedrooms??
Spacious, exquisitely converted rural properties with just one or two huge bedrooms and price tags to match... Ideal for a couple, they won’t be an option for well-heeled families with children, looking for a holiday home.
Tip: try to include a small third or fourth bedroom, or an office/study that can easily be converted to one.


LAYOUT2) Keeping it on the level
A crucial point: buyers planning to retire in Spain are always alert to how stairs, steps and changes in level will affect them in the future. In particular, stairs in old village houses can be too steep to qualify for the cédula de habitabilidad certificate, needed in Catalonia for sale, rental, mortgage, and supply of mains services.
Tip: plan carefully to avoid or minimise changes in level, in and outside the house, and make sure all stairs are safe.


3) Use logical layouts
Older Spanish properties often feature strange labyrinths of tiny window-less rooms and endless corridors. While it sounds obvious, it’s worth taking extra care to achieve a logical layout of well-proportioned rooms.
Tip: if possible, avoid having a WC or bathroom connect directly on to a living room.

NATURAL LIGHT4) Natural light: get the right balance
While planning regulations mean enlarging or adding windows is not always possible in rural house reforms, natural light is a key appeal factor: no-one likes gloomy interiors. But don’t go over the top—Spanish windows are traditionally small to keep out the fierce summer heat.
Tip: do everything possible to create light interiors, and don’t forget to use double-glazed windows and shutters.


5) Max headroom
For resale properties, the cédula requirements set a minimum ceiling height of 2.20 metres for bedrooms and living rooms, and 2.10 metres in kitchens, bathrooms and passages.
Tip: watch headroom on stairways and above all, avoid low doorways: they are a major turn-off for most buyers.


6) Plan ahead for central heating
Anyone who’s spent a winter in the campo will know that it can get pretty damn chilly at times! A single wood burner may work for you, but savvy buyers will be looking for central heating.
Tip: have pipes installed for central heating when you have your reform work done. That way, you —or a potential buyer— only need install radiators and a boiler at a later date.


7) Avoid the patchwork floor effect!
Use the same type of flooring throughout a home to achieve a seamless effect. Integrating small areas of old or decorative tiles into the mix can work very well, but needs to be done skilfully. Avoid different tiles in every room! It looks bitty, and buyers will factor the replacement cost into any offer.
Tip: use flooring in keeping with the type of property. Shiny ceramic tiles look fine in modern interiors, less so in a reformed masia. Good quality terracotta-type tiles always seem popular with buyers.


More information about the cédula
The Generalitat has a simple document with basic information about the requirements for the cédula de habitabilidad. At the moment it’s available in Catalan only; if you would like a copy please email me on [email protected].
APRIL PROPProperty of the month
15 minutes’ drive from Mora la Nova in an idyllic valley setting, this property has good access, 2 hectares of land with mature, recently-pruned olive trees, an 80m2 stone house to rebuild (registered on the deeds as a masia), a stone well and irrigation water, all for 32.000 euros. Photos available soon, email [email protected].
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

 

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SPANISH PROPERTY RENTALS IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE MAR 09

CATALUNYAWhile it’s no secret that the credit crunch has drastically affected Spanish property sales, rentals remain fairly constant and may offer a lifeline to those under pressure to meet rising mortgage payments… So who is looking to rent a property right now? Let’s look at a few cases, names changed as always!


Britain’s try-before-you-buy expats
Even though most UK based would-be buyers are waiting for the exchange rate to improve, there’s seemingly no limit to the number of Brits keen to start a new life in Spain. Many want to rent first —especially those with families— to make sure they get location and property-type just right when the time comes to buy.
Example: Andrew, Charlotte and their young son David are young media professionals with family in the area. Andrew’s work means he needs to be near an airport, so they are renting a renovated finca, deep in the countryside but a short drive from the village kindergarten and 15 minutes’ from Reus airport.
Barcelona refugees: going back to the country
Growing disaffection with the city’s stressful pace means that more and more of Barcelona’s young professionals are going back to their grandparents’ country roots. While most would prefer to buy a masia or village house now, some will be interested in renting a property with an option to buy.
Example: Toni and Sandra have two small children and are young schoolteachers in Barcelona’s industrial belt. Tired of the stress of overcrowded classes in conflictive secondary schools, they have rented a renovated village house in the Priorat, and have taken out an option to buy within five years.
RELOCATIONRelocation, relocation, relocation
Despite the shaky economy, there are still people that have to relocate for work reasons, permanently or on a contract basis. They will usually need to be within easy travelling distance of Tarragona, Reus or Barcelona.
Example: Duncan is a pilot for a well-known, low-cost airline that is expanding its local base in Reus. He and his wife Judy have rented a lovely apartment near the port in Cambrils, which they love.


(By the way, the airline is apparently due to take on more staff. If you have any kind of property to rent within 30 minutes’ drive from Reus airport, I may be able to find a tenant for you.)
If you intend to rent out your house or apartment, recent laws mean you will probably need a cédula de habitabilidad, a certificate that proves that your property meets basic habitation and safety standards.
Make sure of course that your property has adequate insurance cover, and above all, that you are protected by a proper contract. An adequate deposit for damages is also a must.
As always, if you have a query, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]. I’ll be happy to help if I can.

SEAFRONT PROPSpanish seafront properties: good news for buyers and sellers?
In 1988, Spain’s controversial ‘Ley de Costas’ coastal law aimed to protect and de-privatise Spain’s over-developed coastline.
100-metre wide (approx.) deslinde strips were to be established along the seashore, in which all new building was prohibited. However, not much happened till 2004, when the government made setting up of these coastal strips a priority.
Once they were set up, legally constructed, existing houses within them would belong to the state. Lease-type concessions to use them for up to 60 years could be granted to the owner and descendents, but were almost impossible to buy or sell.
But according to an ‘El País’ newspaper article, a recent modification to an unrelated law means that concessions on seafront properties may once more be bought and sold. See http://www.afectadosleydecostas.com/ for more info.
FARM TO RENTIf you are looking for a beachfront property, we have a concession on a legally-built 3 bed villa for sale, in an extraordinary location right on the beach, for 280.000 euros.
Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986. While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

 

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PLANNING AND BUILDING ON RURAL LAND IN CATALONIA

MONSERRAT MOUNTAINS, CATALONIA

If you are new to this area or maybe have been living elsewhere in Spain, you may not be aware that rural planning and building regulations vary from one autonomous community to another.


This means that what’s allowed here in Catalonia can differ considerably from what’s OK in nearby Castellón province or Teruel.


Catalonia’s planning laws are basically those laid down by its autonomous government, the Generalitat.
Extra regulations may be imposed by each province’s Urbanisme (planning) departments, and in particular, by Ajuntaments — local councils.


MAPThe ubiquitous almacén
New building on rural land in Catalonia is now effectively limited to storage buildings: the ubiquitous almacén. Square meterage and height allowed vary from village to village, and are often linked to the amount of cultivated land.


Intended as somewhere to store tools and crops, almacenes can usually include an open fire, a kitchen area and a WC/washroom — but remember that the council is not actually giving you permission to build a dwelling.


Some councils no longer allow almacenes at all unless you have a set, minimum amount of land, or can prove that you make a substantial part of your income from it.
Renovating an existing building
Renovating existing buildings is nearly always possible, provided you respect existing area, height and volume, and maintain the same use.
For example, the use of small ‘casitas’ that have clearly never been dwellings cannot be changed. So as far as the authorities are concerned, a small barn cannot become a full-time home.
Larger, multi-room buildings that were evidently inhabited year-round in the past can usually be renovated as dwellings, subject to approval. This planning process requires basic architect’s plans and can take a year or more.
CASITAlovely example of a casita
In our experience, it’s generally not worth applying to significantly extend this kind of property — permission is rarely granted. But we find you can often get permission to put a roof on an adjacent corral or livestock enclosure.


Take extra care with rural land in a Natura 2000 or PEIN protected wildlife areas. Within them it can be harder to get permission to renovate an existing building, and sometimes an almacén may not be allowed at all.


If you plan to renovate an existing building or build an almacén and need some guidance, feel free to email me at [email protected]. We deal with local councils, architects and builders, and can commission and coordinate their services for you if you are not in the area.


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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CUTTING PINES AND CLEARING LAND

DIGGERAn English friend living here recently said she’d heard that pine trees are no longer classed as a protected species, and did I know if this was true? So I called the Medi Ambient offices in Amposta and Tarragona, regional head offices of the Generalitat’s Environmental Department.
Firstly, they point out that pine trees have never been protected species as such, but that there are regulations about cutting any forest trees and using the wood. These have not changed.
Formerly cultivated farm land with abandoned olive trees etc is apparently classed as forest land as soon as wild and forest species —including long grasses and bushes— start to appear, and permission is needed to clear it.
There are two basic permissions that may apply:


TREE TRIMMING1) Rompuda de terreny forestal, for completely clearing forest land in order to plant new crops or bring abandoned ones back into production.
You’ll have to fill out a detailed form, justify the work on economic grounds, and provide a diagram of the area to be cleared. You will get a visit from a technician, and no work can start until you have permission.


2) Notificació per ús domèstic, for selectively cutting a specific amount of wood for your own use on the finca.
This is a simple, one-page form. If you don’t hear anything from Medi Ambient 15 days after submitting it, permission is automatically granted for one year. You may get a visit from a technician or the Agents Rurals.
For both you will need your NIE, passport and your escritura (title deed).
If you are not sure which permission you need, Medi Ambient suggest you visit them or the Agents Rurals. Take the polígono and parcela number, a rough plan of the finca, and some photos of the land you want to clean up.
Medi Ambient Terres de l’Ebre
Burgos, 17, baixos, 43870 Amposta
Tel: 977 707 320, email: a/e: [email protected]
Medi Ambient Tarragona
Vidal i Barraquer, 12-14, 43005 Tarragona
Tel: 977 241 514, email: [email protected]
Agents Rurals
http://mediambient.gencat.net/cat/el_medi/incendis/agents_rurals/localitzacio_BC_AR.jsp?ComponentID=155893&SourcePageID=155905#1
PALMMedi Ambient say they are happy to look at any property and tell you which areas can be cleared, or advise if you have individual trees that need to be cut down, for example for safety reasons.
They encourage enquiries and claim to rarely say no, unless you want to completely clear a forested area with protected species in a Xarxa Natura 2000 area or natural park…


What is the Xarxa Natura 2000?
The Xarxa Natura 2000 is a network of protected nature areas. It includes protected bird habitats and some of Catalonia’s most magnificent natural countryside.
These areas are effectively ‘policed’ by the Agents Rurals, who are responsible to the Medi Ambient department.
Within them, special controls apply to activities like clearing land and building almacenes (storage buildings). For example, to build an almacén in one you may need approval from both the local Ajuntament and Medi Ambient.
In some areas the Xarxa Natura 2000 overlaps with two Natural Parks: ‘El Port’ and the Delta de l’Ebre. They have their own specific governing bodies, and the Medi Ambient department may refer enquiries to them.
So if you have a rural property or are thinking of buying one, I’d say it’s important to know if it’s in a protected area.
1:50.000 scale, PDF format maps of Xarxa Natura 2000 areas in the Ebro region:
http://mediambient.gencat.net/cat/el_medi/espais_naturals/xarxa_natura_2000/mapes_terres_ebre.jsp?ComponentID=114126&SourcePageID=113833#1
Maps of Xarxa Natura 2000 areas in the rest of Tarragona province:
http://mediambient.gencat.net/cat/el_medi/espais_naturals/xarxa_natura_2000/mapes_tarragona.jsp?ComponentID=114125&SourcePageID=113833#1
These can take a while to open. Each map is for an individual protected area, so you may need to look at more than one to find your finca.


Finally, a handy website with common and protected plants in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic islands. Some English content, and includes Spanish, Catalan and scientific names, and photos: http://herbarivirtual.uib.es/eng-med/index.html


Hope this is useful, and I’d welcome any feedback or comments via email, to [email protected].

Wanted: riverside village house to rent


I have some clients looking for a riverside house to rent for at least one year from February 2009. They are an English couple that already know the area well and want to try before buying.
They are looking for a house with at least two bedrooms and preferably some garage/storage space for fishing gear. They have one dog: a well behaved Jack Russell.


If you have a property like this for rent, please give me a call on 977 08 40 40, or email me at [email protected].

 

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FREE online Spanish-Catalan visual building dictionary DEC 08

BOOTSAm I the only person whose trips to the local builders’ supplies merchants end up like a game of charades? I mean, I usually know what I want… but can I see it anywhere? And I may know what it’s called in English… but I can I explain it in Spanish or Catalan? No way, José!
Somehow I usually get what I need… eventually. In my case, this involves wild gesticulating, desperate scribbled diagrams, and my wife later telling me that she knew what it was called all along... all to the amusement of the guy in the yard.
So when I recently came across a handy little resource hidden away in the depths of the Generalitat’s website, I thought I’d share it with you.


The ‘Diccionari visual de la construcció’ is an illustrated Catalan-Spanish dictionary of architectural and building terms. In printed form it sells for 24 euros, but it’s available for free download in PDF format at http://www10.gencat.net/ptop/AppJava/cat/documentacio/llengua/terminologia/diccvisual.jsp.
Each chapter is available as a separate download, and I think most people will find that chapter three — ‘Elements constructius de l'edifici’, or ‘build construction elements’— is the most useful.
With clear, numbered drawings on each page and labelled in both languages, it includes detailed sections on wall and roof construction, wooden structures, doors and windows, floors and foundations, and water, gas and electrical installations, to name a few.

DICTDICT 2
Originally designed as a Catalan terminology reference for building design and construction professionals, it could be just the thing when you’re down at the builders’ yard or talking to your arquitecto or constructor.
If time allows I may work on an English translation. In the meantime, here’s an A-Z of some of the easy ones!

RENOVATIONAttic, buhardilla (Sp), golfes (Ca)
Brick, ladrillo (Sp), maó (Ca)
Ceiling, techo (Sp), sostre (Ca)
Drainpipe, bajante (Sp), baixant (Ca)
Earth (elec), tierra (Sp), terra (Ca)
Foundations, cimentación (Sp), fonaments (Ca)
Guttering, canalón (Sp), tortugada (Ca)
Hinge, bisagra (Sp), frontissa (Ca)
Insulation, aislamiento (Sp), aïllament (Ca)
Jamb, jamba (Sp), brancal (Ca)
Load-bearing wall, pared de carga(Sp), paret de càrrega (Ca)
Marble, mármol (Sp), marbre (Ca)
Non-bearing interior wall, tabique (Sp), envà (Ca)
Opening, hueco (Sp), obertura (Ca)
Pantile, teja árabe (Sp), teula àrab (Ca)
Quantity, cantidad (Sp), quantitat (Ca)
Rendering, enlucido (Sp), arrebossat (Ca)
Skirting board, zócalo (Sp), sòcol (Ca)
Tiles (floor), baldosa (Sp), rajola (Ca)
U-bend, sifón (Sp), sifó (Ca)
Valve, válvula (Sp), vàlvula (Ca)
Windowsill, repisa (Sp), lleixa (Ca)

 

 

Wanted: small country getaway retreat

WANTED
As mentioned a few months back, Peter and Monica are a cosmopolitan Dutch/Catalan couple that have lived and worked on the Costa Dorada for some years.
They are still looking for a cosy country refuge for weekend breaks. Peter has worked refitting yacht interiors, and is looking forward to having a new project to keep him busy.
The couple want a finca with around 10.000 m2 of land or more, with great views, and about an hour’s drive from Tarragona. Access should not be too rough and water would be ideal.
A stone-built ‘casita’ of 30 or 40m2 would be ideal, and they expect to have to do some structural work. They’ll pay up to 45.000 euros for the right property.
If you have a property like this for sale, please give me a call on 977 08 40 40, or email me at [email protected]
Finally, I’d like to wish all Olive Press readers a Bon Nadal/Feliz Navidad/Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Jeff

  

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BIOFUEL : MAKE YOUR OWN BIODIESEL

BIODIESEL

DIESELThe technology to produce fuel from plants, is nothing new but investments in biofuels has surged in recent years due to environmental concerns, energy issues and the most important oil prices reaching $140 per barrel.
Many different feedstock are used in the manufacture of first generation of biofuels. Ethanol is produced from corn, sugar cane and wheat .
Biodiesel feedstock include palm, soybean, rapeseed oil and used cooking oil .
Alternative feedstock called next generation are produced by microbial fermentation of sugars from biomass, algae and cellulosic ethanol.
One of the best options to produce your own Biodiesel is from waste vegetable oil (WVO) like cooking oil as described and summarised below .

Caution and safety :
If you attempt to produce your own Biodiesel, wear protective gloves, eye protection and appropriate clothing. Chemicals used are extremely caustic and flammable.

Ingredients :
Mixture of: waste vegetable oil (WVO), methanol 99% and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) .

BIODIESELBUS

General procedure:
-Filter WVO to remove any solid particles.
-Heat to remove any water content.
-Titrate to determine how much catalyst is needed.
-Prepare the catalyst ( Sodium methoxide) by mixing methanol with caustic soda .
-Heat WVO with catalyst .
-Allow to settle to remove glycerine from the biodiesel produced.
-Wash with water, dry with heat and check quality of your biodiesel .
Tip :
Start with small batches of 1 litre and increase the batch size as your technique improves.
When using your own Biodiesel in your car, it is advisable to have an extra clear filter connected in line with the existing one so you can see when the filter gets dirty. The biodiesel you produce is much purer than the one sold in the petrol stations and it will clean your diesel tank.
Another important thing to check before using the biodiesel in your car is to find out the type seals of your diesel pump as some of the old type of seals might dissolve .
When starting to use biodiesel in your car the unwanted side effects can be minimised by mixing the Biodiesel at 50% with normal diesel sold in the petrol stations.


By : Xavier Milián Call
Enginyer Tècnic Industrial . no : 10634
www.catalunyafincas.com

 

 

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nhs

YOUR NHS SERVICE ABROAD, THE EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD

ehicMost people will know by now that the old E111 form has been done away with since January 2006, but what many do not know is that it has been replaced with the EHIC that needs to be applied for and what this means.
The British card is only available free of charge to UK residents, which means that if you are a Spanish resident you must look at the Spanish NHS for the equivalent. If a British resident decides to work or live abroad, then the authorities should be informed accordingly and the card returned.
European citizens who are travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA), (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, for private or professional reasons are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a member state.
doctorsThe EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the member state where treatment is required, the claimant will be entitled to free medical care on presentation of the card or an equivalent document.
Presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home. In the event of treatment being required present the card at the earliest opportunity. The card is only valid for state provided services, not private hospitals or treatments.
The only personal information on the EHIC is the card holder's surname and first name, personal identification number and date of birth. The European health insurance card does not contain medical data.
It is a plastic, non-electronic card and is valid for a maximum of one year. The card contains the same information in all countries where it is issued. It will become electronic by 2008 to further simplify the system. For individual use only: Each member of a family must have their own card, including children under sixteen.
The EHIC in Spain
ehic cardThe Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (TSE) allows legal residents of Spain to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily in a member country.
Anyone covered by the Spanish social security system or a system is entitled to a TSE
Residents of Spain can apply to the local CAISS, Social Security Service and Information Centre for the card. Take your Cat Salut TSI and residencia cards to obtain card.
Note: The TSE cannot be used in Spain to make medical claims. The EHIC (TSE) is for use when visiting a member state other than the country of residence where the card has been issued. That means a resident of Spain with a TSE may use it while travelling in other EEC countries.
Non-Residents Claiming in Spain
Doctors and Dentists: Present the EHIC card immediately and ensure that the medic is not a private physician, there is no refund system for private treatment unless there is a private insurance policy in effect. Dentistry is not usually covered by the health service and as such fees will not be refunded.
Prescriptions: State (EEA) pensioners (with proof of status) are eligible for free prescriptions, all other cases must pay up to 40 percent of the total cost.
Hospital Treatment: Make sure the hospital is not private; otherwise the patient is liable for the whole cost (unless there is a private insurance policy. Present the EHIC as soon as treatment begins.
British Residents of Spain
If a British national is a permanent resident of Spain (or on an E106) and paying into the Spanish system, applications for the card must be made in Spain; the card will not be issued in Britain.
cat salutThe TSI card, your personal health care card
Your personal health care card (TSI) identifies and accredits you as a person covered by the Catalan Health Service. Your TSI is the key to accessing the centres and services of the public health care system.
The personal health care card (TSI) is the document that provides citizens with access to the centres, services and provisions of the public health care system. Your TSI is also an easy and reliable way of identifying you, using a personal identification code (PIC) which is printed on the first line.
Everyone has to have a TSI. It is a personal and non-transferrable card for each member of your family, whatever their age. If you have not yet received your health care card you should report to your primary health care centre (CAP), phone the Sanitat Respon helpline on 902 111 444 or contact the Customer Services Centre of your regional health care offices. They will provide you with information and indicate the steps you need to take to request the card.

golfingCatSalut provides free health care cards to citizens.

You need to take your TSI with you, when you take a prescription to the chemist's. Your health care card provides access to all services provided under the public health system. These services include drugs subsidised by CatSalut. You must present the TSI of the person in whose name the prescription is made out when buying medicine.
www10.gencat.cat/catsalut/eng/asseg_tsi.htm for more information

 

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BRIDGING LANGUAGE BARRIER

Advertorial
ANGLAISTwenty-twenty foresight would be a wonderful gift, but unfortunately it’s something that no one possesses.
After watching relocation/life-changing programmes on TV people are enthused by the images of sun, sea, sand and siesta. They have been sold the life style.
When they arrive here in Spain, they come looking for peace, tranquillity, a simpler less complicated lifestyle and they believe it heralds a new and fabulous beginning.
This is not always the case. Unfortunately,for a few it can sometimes spell the beginning of the end….when reality hits:
The language is a barrier
The bureaucracy is bewildering.
The paperwork seems endless and the answers to questions are inadequate and in some cases incomprehensible.
They decide to return to their home country.
Faced with this scenario people are left feeling all at sea or worse...like they’re drowning. LIFERING
When confronted with this situation it is easy to believe there is no one to hear the distress call; no one to throw out the life line and tow them back to the sanity of a safe harbour.
That’s where Speakers Of Spanish. comes to the rescue, this life boat comes fully loaded and equipped to rescue any soul lost at sea in the bureaucratic ocean that is Spain.
S.O.S. provides a translation service that cuts through the waves of documentation.
S.O.S. helps you acquire the following items: N.I.E.'s; change of car registration from English to Spanish; renewal or change of your driver’s licence.
S.O.S will act as a personal intermediary (verbally or written), on your behalf.
LIFERAFTWe assist in your communications with your local town hall: organise the necessary paper work to join the health service (CatSalut) so you are able to register with the doctors’ surgery, as well as enrolling your children into school.
We provide a teaching/coaching service that suits all abilities, with the stress and emphasis on the art of conversation. Tuition can be given in groups or individually. However, for those among you who dislike the classroom, work sheets are available .So there’s no excuse !
LIFEBOATWe provide an all inclusive home management service should you need to return to your home country on a temporary or permanent basis.
These services are just the tip of the iceberg. We cannot promise that everything will be plain sailing, as very often here it is not, however, we will promise to cater for all eventualities by looking at each individual circumstance from a new perspective. This reliable vessel gets the whole job done, no matter what it entails, you can be assured of an honest, confidential and reliable service when you make S.O.S. your port of call.

Let S.O.S. steer you to clearer waters
by contacting us on 679 219 715

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APIAPI & YOUR RIGHT TO A DWELLING...

The Right of a dwelling is a recent Catalan law (18/2007, 28th December, Llei del dret a l’habitatge) related to the right for everybody to have access to a house and/or property with a minimum standard of living:


FOR SALE▪It demands that the habitability condition of a dwelling is acceptable covering areas like dampness, facilities, amenities and that the living area is sufficent for the number of people in the household etc. .
▪It identifies and corrects any situation that does not comply with the social function of dwelling .
▪It pays special attention to the protection of the consumers and users of the dwellings in the property market.
▪It has 136 articles and additional dispositions that defines the different types of properties involved and regulates the process of buying, selling, notaries, land registry, etc . The articles 53, 54 to 55 are referring to the Agents legally recognised by law that can give real estate services, in another words that can mediate in the process of selling/buying of properties . These are mainly the land administrators( Administradors de Finques) and property estate agents ( API - Agents Propietat Immobiliaria) and lawyers. Note, many lawyers are also estate agents
▪It states that it will only be possible to give real estate services when you comply with the following:
A place open to the public such as a shop, office or an address of the professional agent.
To be in possession of the professional qualifications, normally you comply when you belong to a related professional college.
Maintain an economical guarantee to respond to any monetary amounts given during the exercise of the real estate services.( to guarantee the return of any deposit paid in the event of non-sale)
To have an individual or collective insurance with a college representing professional bodies.
To be listed in the official registry of agents.


So, what is an API ?
The “Agent de la Propietat Immobiliaria” is a registered legal professional with the necessary qualifications to sell real estate and arrange property transactions .
What are the functions of an API ?
The mediation in the buying, selling, renting, leasing, etc. of properties.
The mediation in the loan and mortgage concession .
Valuation and certification of values of properties .


How would an API help you ?
The API agent will put at your service his knowledge of the property market and the legality of properties, making sure that the transaction is exact and correct between the parties, and that all complies to the “letter of the law”.
On the other hand this law will never make the typical “Corredor” of a village disappear. Local people still enjoy asking the “old man” what he knows about what land, house, finca is up for grabs . Please remember to use an estate agent that complies with the law for your security and peace of mind.

By : Xavier Milián Call
API no: 746 www.catalunyafincas.com

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DO YOU HAVE A CASITA DE CAMPO TO REFORM?

BOOTSPLANSBUILDING

A D V E R T O R I A L
Maybe you bought a little ‘casita’ (for anyone that doesn’t live here, that’s a small cheese-wedge shaped barn or shed!) with a view to doing it up it some day. Or perhaps you are looking for a little two-storey farm building to renovate as a weekend cottage.
You can nearly always renovate any existing building in the country, but you may have to respect its existing footprint, height and volume. For small country casitas that were clearly not multi-room dwellings in the past, the use of the building cannot be changed, so basically, a small barn cannot become a full-time home.
But that still leaves plenty of scope for some interesting renovation projects.
We can find out the local planning regulations and prepare a report, in Catalan, outlining what you’d like to do, and submit it to the local council or planning authority for you. The aim is to get a written reply so you can decide how to proceed.
The price of this preliminary report for Olive Press readers is 160 euros.
From there on we can provide a range of services on an hourly fee basis:
-         Contact an ‘aparejador’ (technical architect) to draft any plans and documentation needed.
-         Make your planning application to the council, contacting other authorities as required.
-         Organise and oversee building work. We use a young team of Catalan craftsmen that work to a high standard and specialise in casita renovation and stonework.
For a free consultation give me a call on
977 08 40 40,
or email me at [email protected]

CASITA 1CASITA 2

Pic 1: One of our reform projects, now nearing completion - Pic 2: Detail shows high quality finish

 

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Five important points to check before selling your property

Selling a Spanish property in the present economic climate is no easy feat, but there are still a few people buying out there. The good news is that ‘time wasters’ have virtually disappeared: today’s buyers are here to buy, well informed and will usually be legally advised.
Getting the sale price right is the single most important factor for selling in the current market, but it’s equally important to prepare for the sale — make sure all legalities and documentation are in order. Here are some of the key points you should address in order to minimise problems and avoid frustrating delays later on:
1) Check your property is correctly registered at the Registro de la Propiedad

Have your escritura (title deed) checked to make sure it accurately describes your property. If you have a country finca, check the house appears on it and is described as fully as possible, and verify that the land area shown corresponds with the real area.
Some anomalies can be dealt with at the notary’s office on completion of sale, but you need to be aware of issues that could impede or delay a sale. Land Registry rectification involves costs in the form of taxes, notary fees and registry charges.
2) Make sure your property is correctly described at the Catastro
While the Registro de la Propiedad is Spain’s principal land registry, the Catastro registry is part of Hacienda, the Spanish Treasury. Catastro information —which includes the polígono and parcela numbers— is used to calculate local IBI rates. In Tarragona province, these are collected by the BASE agency.
See how the Catastro describes your property on their website at http://ovc.catastro.meh.es/, and check it is in your name by looking at your IBI receipt or by calling the BASE agency.
Again, some inaccuracies can be solved when you complete the sale. Unlike the Registro de la Propiedad, Catastro modifications are usually free of charge.
Check too that you are up-to-date with IBI rates payments. Country properties with a dwelling often pay separate rates on house and land.
3) Check that your well is legal
Buyers looking for fincas with own or shared wells will want proof that wells or boreholes are duly registered with the Agència Catalana de l’Aigua—the Catalan water authority.
It’s quite easy to check if a well is registered, and usually possible to register it if it isn’t. Registration is not expensive but takes a few months, so get it done well in advance.
If your water comes from a community irrigation scheme, you should have the contract between you and the irrigation association, receipts for initial connection charges and your most recent water bill. If you have your water analysed, keep the relevant documentation too.
4) The cédula de habitabilidad
As of April 2008, a habitation certificate —the cédula de habitabilidad— is now required when any vivienda (dwelling) in Catalonia is sold.
This certificate requires a simple, stamped report from a surveyor or technical architect (aparejador). Once you have the report, the cédula de habitabilidad takes about a month.
If a property needs work to meet the standards required for the cédula, an alternative document will also allow you to complete the sale. It simply states that, if that work were carried out, a habitation certificate could be issued.
5) Consider a bank valuation/structural survey

Getting the sale price right is essential for selling in the current market, but in the case of country properties that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Your estate agent should be able to give you a sale price of course, but an up-to-date bank valuation is a great way to help convince buyers that your asking price is realistic and that the property is in good shape.
On the subject of condition, buyers are usually advised to have a structural survey carried out, and you have a duty under Spanish law to inform would-be buyers of any defects that aren’t readily apparent and that materially affect the value of a property.
So if you are unsure of just how sound your property really is, it might make sense to commission a structural survey yourself.
Take time to get all your documentation together and have a copy made. This should include the escritura, IBI receipts, all planning permission documents, the end-of-work certificate, and documents related to the water and power supply.
If your property has a solar/wind/generator power system, be sure to keep any receipts, guarantees and maintenance records.
You should also save all receipts for building and electrical work, swimming pools, and improvements. A seller may ask for a copy, but keep the originals in case you need them for tax purposes.
Finally, if you are selling a property or looking to buy, please give me a call on 977 08 40 40 — I’d love to hear from you!

3 bed detached
In the heart of the Priorat wine region…
3-bedroom, detached house on the edge of a picturesque village, 10 min. Falset, 40 min. beach, 35 min. Reus airport, rail link to Barcelona 5 min. Garden, garage/workshop, fly-free terrace, central heating, ADSL. Top condition, fantastic views. Highly recommended, contact Jeff on 977 084 040 or [email protected].

Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.
Please remember! While the points contained in this article are true to best of our knowledge, they do not constitute legal advice on the part of Fincas Direct or The Olive Press. Please use this information responsibly and seek professional legal advice if in doubt.

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Seven tips to help you learn Spanish or Catalan

Face it: odds are you’re never going to learn to speak much Spanish or Catalan just by hanging around in bars and asking for cafés con leche or cervezas. For anyone except small children, learning a foreign language requires determined effort and hard work.
And as everyone knows, practice is one of the keys to getting a working grasp of any language. But if you live here already you have a huge advantage, especially if you have time on your hands, so here are a few proven ideas to help you kick-start your Spanish or Catalan:


1.- Shopping: ¿el último, por favor?
Forget the supermarket: if you want to learn, personal interaction is the name of the game. If you have time, buy your fresh fruit and veg, meat, fish, bread, etc in small shops where you have to ask for what you want. While you may pay a bit more, the produce is often fresher than in your local supermercat. Gradually you’ll improve your vocabulary, especially if you go every day.
Tip: to ask in Spanish, who is the last in the queue, say ‘el último, por favor?’ in a questioning tone.


2.- Exchange classes
While Catalan classes —some of them free— for adults are more widely available, it’s not that easy to find Spanish classes for foreigners outside of major towns. An alternative is to find someone local that wants to improve his or her English conversation skills in return for helping you get started with Catalan or Spanish. Local school teachers are ideal.
Tip: little and often is best. Classes of over an hour and a half are best avoided as they can be very tiring.


languages3.- Reading and writing exercises
Even if your aim is mainly to be able to speak and understand basic Spanish or Catalan, it’s vital to back up speaking and listening with some written work and reading comprehension. You’ll find a little time spent studying every day will reinforce your knowledge and help you achieve your goal.
Important: when buying a Spanish textbook online, make sure it’s for European Spanish, not Latin American Spanish.


4.- The Sky is the limit…
OK, Spanish TV can admittedly be pretty dire, although the Catalan channels are (in my opinion) better. But that said, they can definitely help you learn the language, so ignore the howls of protest from your teenage kids and stop watching English satellite TV today…
Tip: start by watching the daily news and weather.


5.- Read a little every day
Join your local public library (biblioteca pública) —see the menu options in http://www20.gencat.cat/portal/site/Biblioteques for a complete list— and start reading, even though you won’t understand every word. I’d recommend short stories and best-sellers and detective stories, the kind of thing with that you can’t put down. Books translated from English are good too, and some people find children’s books helpful.
Tip: get into the habit of reading the local paper every day.


6.- Go the cinema
Once you can follow a conversation to some degree, watching Spanish films at the cinema is a great way to hone your listening skills. Films here are almost always dubbed, with 95% in Spanish rather than in Catalan. Dialogue is usually clear, simple and well-pronounced, and being in a cinema seems to somehow focus your attention far better than watching a film at home.
Tip: most cinemas have one day a week —often a Wednesday— when it’s cheaper to get in, known as the ‘día del espectador’.

cartoon
7.- Pronunciation and confidence
It’s worth making a special effort with regard to pronunciation.
While it may be possible to speak English without moving your lips very much at all, to communicate effectively in Spanish or Catalan you’ll need to recreate their vowel and consonant sounds as closely as you can. See http://www.lingolex.com/pronounce for a very simple guide to Spanish pronunciation.


Lastly, anyone learning a language naturally makes mistakes, and one of the biggest barriers is to overcome our natural fear of making fools of ourselves. Some years back I startled the ladies in the local butchers’ shop with a request for a little tenderness —ternura— when what I wanted was some beef —ternera!
Luckily the Catalans are pretty patient with foreigners and will usually help if you make an effort to speak Spanish, and more especially, Catalan. So stick with it and try to immerse yourself in the language as much as you can: you’ll be glad you did.


Dream riverside locationdream location

 

If you’re in the market for a reasonably-priced property with this totally spectacular view,

contact me on 977 084 040.


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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HOW TO GET GRANTS FOR REFORMING OLDER PROPERTIES

Every year the Generalitat —Catalonia’s autonomous government— makes a limited number of grants available for reforming older properties. The application deadline for 2008 expired on May 30th, but if you have a property to reform or are thinking of buying one you may qualify for 2009.

Which properties are eligible?
Legal, registered dwellings built before 1980 (exceptions below, marked with an *), when renovated for:


- own use as a primary, year-round residence (not a second home)
- resale as registered, protected housing
- renting out as registered, protected rental
Town houses, apartments, villas and some (but not all) legal country properties should be eligible.


FINCAWhat kind of work qualifies?
- Work to ensure compliance with minimum habitation standards. Up to 40% of quoted price, maximum grant of 8.400 euros
- Work to ensure compliance with water, gas, electricity and sanitary standards. Up to 25% of quoted price, maximum grant of 700 euros
- *Work carried out to facilitate mobility for handicapped persons. Up to 40% of quoted price, maximum grant of 7.200 euros
- *Improving acoustic/thermal insulation. 35% of quoted price, maximum grant of 1.400 euros.


Owners can apply for more than one subsidy.


Who can apply?
Spanish citizens and residents of Spain. The latter must have an NIE number and a residency letter or card.
For some types of grant you may need to provide proof that your income for the previous year is below 3.5 times the minimum IPREM salary. The number of family members and the property area also have a bearing on this.
Owners may have to prove they have lived or worked in the village or town for at least 5 years.


Conditions
A property renovated for own use cannot be sold within 5 years of receiving a grant (or the grant has to be returned with interest)
Buildings renovated for protected sale must qualify as a PREU official protection dwelling. A sale contract must be provided.
Dwellings renovated for protected rental must qualify under the PREU official protected rental scheme. Minimum rental period is ten years, contract must be provided.
Any work carried out must be legal of course, and owners have to submit documentation, including an architect’s project, municipal building licence, and three quotes from registered builders.


Possible extra 10% if the dwelling is:


- Uninhabited and is to be reformed for protected sale or rental
- Located in one of the Generalitats’s designated mountain areas or de-populated zones
- Considered to be of national cultural interest by the Generalitat (listed building)
- In a council-designated special interest area, for example an old quarter.
An extra 10% may also be given if the applicant is under 35


When are grants paid?
According to the Generalitat’s website, grants are paid after an end-of-works certificate and relevant invoices have been presented.


Summing up
As you can see, these subsidies are mainly relevant to long-term residents and developers of sale/rental protected housing. Like so many things in Spain, they will involve a lot of complex bureaucratic procedures and paperwork.
But they could make all the difference to the viability of a renovation project, so if you are planning to reform, now is the time to see if you qualify and to start gathering information ready for next year.
Funds available in any year are limited, so it’s vital to get your application in as soon as possible in 2009.


For more information, call the Generalitat’s 012 information helpline and ask to speak to the ‘habitatge’ department. English-speaking agents are available.


Information online (for 2008, in Catalan): http://mediambient.gencat.net/cat/ciutadans/habitatge/Rehabilitacio_habitatges.jsp


While this information is true to the best of our knowledge, Fincas Direct/Jeff Greensmith cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies and translation errors or their consequences.


A room with a view… Views are so often a key feature when you’re looking for a property. Here are some of the best we have right now.
FINCA-> View 1
Lovely three bed house with a garden, on the outskirts of a beautiful village in the heart of the Priorat wine region. Fully legal, all services, 35 minutes to beach, railway station 5 minutes.

 

 

 


FINCA-> View 2
Pool, garden and superb views over the sea and delta, about a mile from El Perelló and 10 minutes’ from the beach. Legal, good access, mains electricity.

 

 

 

FINCA
-> View 3
Super character house in Catalonia’s best known riverside village… Absolutely outstanding location and views. Possibility of use as bar and terrace.






Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

joke

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DRIVING IN SPAIN THE ROUNDABOUT NOV 08

ROUNDABOUT

 

MAGIC ROUNDABOUTNo doubt we’ve all been confused with the antics we witness on a daily basis when we attempt to circumnavigate a roundabout.
The confusion arises, once again, from the two different methods used by driving schools in the UK and Spain. In the UK we are taught to use the inside lane until we arrive at the exit we want and then indicate our intention to exit.


Spanish driving schools teach their pupils to use the outside lane with their left indicator on. They will then go straight over two or three exits until they arrive at their chosen exit.
If you are still using the UK method you will find yourself on the inside lane, trying frantically to exit, alongside someone on the outside lane who is heading for the next exit directly across your path.
My advice, when in Rome……….!


ROUNDABOUT CHAIRSafe driving Chris Dann www.carimportinspain.com

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DRIVING IN SPAIN OVERTAKING BY CHRIS DANN OCT 08

STOP SIGNOvertaking slower moving traffic on a national road can be a little unnerving for the uninitiated especially if you are driving a RHD car. The first thing to remember is that the speed limit on a national road is 100 km/h (62mph). This gives a closing speed into oncoming traffic of 200 km/h or 124 mph !! It is, therefore, essential to leave a good safety gap between you and the vehicle in front. Think in terms of eight to ten car lengths. As a rough guide, pick a point at the side of the road and, when the vehicle in front of you passes it, say “only a fool breaks the two second rule” if you’re still speaking when you pass the same point, you’re too close.
The point of leaving a good safety gap (especially in a RHD vehicle) is that it gives you an uninterrupted view of the road in front. You can see to the left or right of the vehicle in front as well as under it. It also means that you can see the driver’s face in his overtaking mirror and, more importantly, when you decide to overtake you can start to accelerate well before your gap in the oncoming traffic arrives. This means that by the time you arrive at the vehicle in front you will already be travelling at least 40 km/h faster and your time on the opposite side of the road will, therefore, be greatly reduced. All that’s required at this point is a final check in the mirror to make sure that the road is clear behind you and off you go.
2SECOND RULEOne final point. Before you start your overtake check for side roads on your left hand side as far as you can see in the direction you’re travelling. If there is anything waiting to pull out you should abort your attempt. If they pull out and turn to their right while you’re on the opposite side of the road !?! Of course, it goes without saying that if you are about to turn right out of a T junction on to a national road you should first confirm that there is a big enough gap in the traffic on your left to allow you to pull out without causing another driver to alter speed or direction and then look to your right just before you pull out in case anyone is in the middle of an overtake.

Safe driving Chris Dann www.carimportinspain.com

 

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DRIVING IN SPAIN & LICENCES BY CHRIS DANN SEPT 08

CAR FOR SALEI have had a few enquiries recently regarding the use of a UK driving licence with a Spanish registered vehicle. The following has been taken directly from the Mossos d’Esquadra guidelines.
Firstly, in order to drive a vehicle on a public highway in Spain you must be in possession of a valid driving licence. You must carry your licence with you at all times. Furthermore, your vehicle must be fully road legal in the country of registration. This means that, in the case of a UK registered vehicle, it must have a current MOT and it must display a valid road tax disc. You must also carry with you valid insurance from the country of registration.
Licences issued by EU Member States
If you have established your residence in Spain, you can apply for your licence to be exchanged for a Spanish equivalent. Alternatively you may continue to use the driving licence issued in your country but it has to be registered with the Register of Drivers at the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) for your province.
NO ENTRYLicences issued in non-EU countries
Any individual living in Spain and in possession of an NIE number or residence/work papers can continue to drive on Spanish highways for up to six months using the licence issued in their own country. After this period their licence must be exchanged for a Spanish driving licence.
As well as EU member state countries, Spain currently has bilateral agreements for the mutual acknowledgement and exchange of driving licences with Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.
This means that if you are a US citizen and only have a US driving licence, then you will have to take a Spanish driving test in order to obtain a Spanish driving licence.
The ITV. Regularity of inspections.
•A new car or motorcycle is subject to an initial inspection after four years. After that, they are subject to inspection every two years and when they have been in use for ten years they must be checked every year.
•Vans and crossover vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes must be checked every two years. After six years they must be checked yearly and after 10 years, every six months.
•As of February 2009, mopeds must undergo an initial inspection after three years and be checked every two years thereafter.
•A Spanish ITV is not valid on a UK registered car.
Finally, I have had numerous emails regarding the six month law for re-registering a UK registered vehicle.
EU law states that you are allowed to drive your UK registered vehicle in Spain for up to 182 days in any 365. After that it must be taken off the road for a continuous six month period or be re-registered with Spanish national plates. It must, however, remain fully road legal in the country of registration.

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

ROAD IN SPAINDriving in Spain by Chris Dann carimportinspain

 

stop signOver the last four or five years the volume of people crossing EU borders to take up residence in other EU countries has increased dramatically. There are a few popular misconceptions regarding the legality of driving a UK registered vehicle in Spain. Here are the facts obtained directly from;

Dirección General de Trafico

Josefa Valcároel, 28

28027 Madrid, MADRID


Tel 91 3018100


Firstly ,article 38/1992 of EU law states that any person who has a residence permit or is a fiscal resident in Spain must register a car staying permanently in Spain with Spanish national plates within six months of its arrival.


motorway signYou may only keep your UK registered car in Spain for up to six months at which point it has to return to the UK for a full six month period or be re-registered with Spanish national plates. (you could also take it off the road completely for a continuous six month period but that would mean that, in the case of a car over three years old, the MOT would have expired and that would render the insurance void)


Anyone who has been living in Spain for more than six months is automatically assumed to have fiscal resident status and rule 38/1992 automatically applies.


What this means is that if you have brought your UK registered car to Spain with you as part of your personal possessions due to your change of residence, then you must re-register it with Spanish national plates within six months. Failure to do so would almost certainly render your insurance null and void. You cannot take your car back to the UK, Tax, MOT and insure it and then bring it back two weeks later. It has to stay out the country (or off Spanish roads) for a full continuous six month period in any one year. Remember, UK docks now use NPR (Number Plate Recognition) cameras and if you try and drive back into the UK with no valid Tax or MOT you run the risk of having your car impounded at Dover.


There have been recent cases of British registered cars being impounded in Benalmadena and Torrevieja for being outside of the six month limit. There have also been a couple of cases in Barcelona and in April 2008 a Dutch car and a British car were impounded in Sitges for the same reason.


A Spanish ITV is not valid on a UK registered car in place of an MOT. Therefore, if your MOT has run out, your insurance would probably be void on the grounds that your car was not ‘roadworthy’

 

cow signYou would only get away with the “I’m here on holiday “ story in the event of a minor incident or a routine roadside stop. Something more serious and your insurance company (not the Police) would be looking through a microscope at you. You would probably be asked to produce petrol receipts, credit card receipts, Ferry crossing tickets or anything that would prove that you were actually in Spain ‘on holiday’.


Most insurance companies have a clause in the very small print which automatically reduces your level of cover to basic liability as soon as you leave the shores of the country the vehicle is insured in for more than a set period of time. It’s well worth giving your underwriter a quick call to find out exactly what level of cover you have while out of the UK for more than a thirty day period.


In the unfortunate event of you being involved in an accident where someone was injured (or worse) and you only had basic liability cover then you would be looking at, lets just say, major problems.


The basic rule is really quite simple. If you have taken up residence in Spain then put Spanish plates on your car, change your Driving Licence for a Spanish one and buy fully comprehensive Spanish insurance. It really is that simple.


I got a quote the other day from one of the English speaking insurance agents “down south’. They wanted 643 euros for fully comprehensive cover for a car on British plates. I then spoke to Direct Seguros and the same car with the same level of cover on Spanish national plates was 263 euros ! I think they call that a ‘no brainer’


The time to make sure you are completely legal is before you have a problem.


Not after.


Now on to some basic driving laws.


no overtakingWhen driving in Spain you must always carry with you the original copy of;

Driving licence

Permiso de Circulación

Fichas Technicas

Proof that Impuestos de Circulación (road tax) has been paid

Valid insurance documents

Current ITV (If the car needs one)

Tarjeta de Residencia or your NIE number and a photocopy of your passport


You should also carry;

High visibility jacket (inside the car, not in the boot)

Two warning triangles

Spare set of bulbs (and, technically, the means to change them)

Spare wheel and the means to change it

Spare glasses if you need them for driving


Failure to provide any one of the above will result in an ‘on the spot’ fine However, when you get up to six they will probably impound the car and you will be walking home !!


It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving (150 euro fine and three points).


A stop sign in Spain means stop. You cannot roll over if there is nothing coming. You must bring the car to a complete stop. (150 euro fine and three points).


You cannot make a left turn on a national road across an unbroken white line. (150 euro fine, three points and a 40 ton lorry in your boot !)


Overtaking on the right on a dual carriageway, Autopista/ Autovia, is illegal. (150 euro fine and three points).


When overtaking on a dual carriageway or Autopista/ Autovia ,the use of the left indicator is compulsory. When pulling back in the use of the right indicator is also compulsory.


Failure to do so will result in a 100 euro fine and two points.


The wearing of seat belts, both front and rear, is compulsory at all times.


Motorcyclists must wear a crash helmet at all times and drive with the head light on dipped beam during daylight hours.


Children under twelve are not allowed in the front seat of a car unless suitably restrained by an approved device.


Dogs must be restrained at all times with an approved device when travelling in a car.


Spanish driving schools tend to teach their pupils to come to a stop on a slip road and wait for a gap in the traffic. Try and remember that next time you’re accelerating along a slip road into a gap in the traffic on a national road with your eyes fixed on your overtaking mirror.


Many Spanish driving schools teach their pupils to ‘touch park’. This means that they will reverse into a space and keep going until they make contact with the car behind. That is their signal to select first gear. It’s quite acceptable and perfectly normal.


Finally,


The Drink Drive laws in Spain are rigorously enforced and the level is lower than in the UK (0.5 as opposed to 0.8). If you are ever caught Drinking and Driving the penalties are harsh. Anything from a heavy fine and your car being impounded up to imprisonment ! My advice. Don’t even think about it!

ADVICE FOR DRIVING IN SPAIN


If you need advice on re-registering your car please visit carimportinspain.com

THE POINT SYSTEM IN SPAIN

For general information I thought it would be a good idea to let people know of the most recent driving laws in Spain.

The point system arrived in 2006 but, unlike our system of accumulating points, the Spanish, or those of us who have changed our licences for Spanish ones, are given 12 points which are deducted as they commit various offences. When you get down to zero you will be walking!

There are three main categories of drivers.


Normal 12 points
New drivers 8 points
Veterans 8 points (A veteran is someone who has lost all their points and successfully re-taken their test and has been awarded a new licence.


6 points will be deducted for:


• Driving under the influence of alcohol (more than 0,50 mg/l)
• Driving under the influence of drugs
• Refusing to undergo a breath test
• Driving in the wrong direction
• Driving in unauthorised races or competitions
• Dangerous driving
• Speeding over 50% or 50km over the limit


4 points will be deducted for:
• Accelerating to prevent other vehicles from overtaking
• Driving under the influence of alcohol (0,25 - 0,50 mg/l)
• Driving a vehicle with too many passengers
• Driving without due care and attention
• Driving at more than 40km/h over the limit
• Failing to respect a right of way
• Failing to respect a STOP sign
• Failing to respect overtaking laws (Lt and Rt indicators)
• Changing direction in dangerous situations such as tunnels, junctions, motorways
• Reversing on motorways
• Overtaking on bends or in reduced visibility
• Failure to obey traffic police
• Failure to obey traffic lights
• Throwing objects onto the road that can cause fire or accident
• Putting cyclists in danger
• Driving without a driving licence
• Driving on a motorway or public highway in a vehicle that is not permitted.


3 points will be deducted for:
• Driving between 31 and 40km/h over the limit
• Driving too close to the vehicle in front
• Using a mobile phone while driving
• Driving without wearing a seatbelt


2 points will be deducted for:
• Driving between 21 and 30km/h over the limit
• Stopping or parking in places which impede normal driving of other road users,
pedestrian crossings or in lines reserved for urban public transport.
• Using a radar detector
• Riding a motorcycle with an underage pillion passenger (under 12 years)
• Driving without lights when necessary
• Driving with lights which dazzle other drivers


Remember, as well as the points, there will also be a fine to pay and, in the event of a drinking and driving offence, the car is nearly always impounded and will only be released on payment of a further heavy fine.


Finally remember that if your UK registered vehicle has been in Spain for more than six months it must be re-registered with Spanish national plates or risk being impounded.
Safe driving. By Chris Dann, Car Import Spain. VISIT: carimportinspain.com

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TAKEN FROM NEWS IN SPAIN JUNE 2008

Non-Resident Sellers May Be Entitled to Tax Rebate
Non-residents of Spain who sold a property in this country between 2004 and the end of 2006 may be entitled to a 20% tax rebate from the Spanish Government. According to a Spanish law firm, foreigners who sold their Spanish properties before 2007 paid a Non Residents Income Tax rate of 35% on their capital gains, compared to a rate of 15% paid by Spanish residents. The law firm pointed out that this contravenes EU rules on discrimination and was therefore improperly charged by the Spanish Government. A change in the law at the start of 2007 saw the standard Capital Gains Tax for non residents brought in line with residents at 15%. As a result, sellers who had previously sold property in Spain may be entitled to a 20% rebate.


Spanish Wealth Tax Abolished
The Spanish wealth tax, known in Spain as patrimonio (Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio), has been abolished by Spains socialist government, fulfilling an electoral promise made 4 years ago before the Socialists took power. The wealth tax has been abolished as of 01/01/2008, so the change does not affect tax declarations for the tax year 2007. For most non-resident property owners the tax bill for the wealth tax was never very big but for most owners will nevertheless be welcome at a time when municipal taxes, mortgage rates, and other overheads for property owners are on the rise.

Spain to change banking practices
By h.b. - May 24, 2008 - 9:29 AM
The Bank of Spain - Photo EFE
The Bank of Spain is to join the Basel II agreement this year.
The banking system in Spain will this year adopt an international practice, known as the Basel II agreement, which will allow it to free up more assets, but will also see it penalised when it carried out high risk operations. It means that the banks will have to take greater care when granting a mortgage, and those of more than 95% of the value are expected to vanish from the market.
Each bank will now be obliged to offer greater transparency in a yearly report which explains the profile of their business and their exposition to risk.
Initially only a group of eight of Spain’s largest banks will be approved by the Bank of Spain to take part in the scheme – Santander, BBVA, Banco Popular, Banco Sabadell, Bankinter, La Caixa, Caja Madrid and the Caixa Catalunya.

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for sale signFIVE TIPS TO HELP SELL YOUR PROPERTY

It’s no secret that the Spanish property market has become a buyers market, with prices falling and likely to drop further still.
British buyers are hit hard by the adverse exchange rate — as anyone receiving a UK pension in the euro zone will know. Not surprisingly, some would-be purchasers will wait until the rate improves.
Potential Spanish buyers, while encouraged by falling prices, are finding that Spain’s banks are now drastically limiting mortgages, particularly for second homes.
Some owners will wait for the situation to improve before putting their houses on the market —perhaps renting them out in the meantime— but many need to sell now.
Don’t forget that the same exchange rate now favours sellers moving back to the UK.
So to sum up, if you need to sell, the situation is difficult, but not impossible.
Houses are still being bought and sold… but the rules of the game now favour the buyer.
It’s important to prepare for a sale though, so even if you’re only thinking of selling at this stage, the sooner you get started the better.


1| Choose the right agent


Make sure your agent speaks Spanish and English and can sell to both markets.
Check that he or she can issue valid IVA (VAT) invoices, which can help reduce any capital gains tax.
An agent should also be able to outline the main legal or planning issues that might complicate the sale.
Ask about how your property will be marketed.


2| Get documentation in order


Buyers are now better informed than ever. While most non-Spanish buyers instruct a lawyer, Spanish buyers will have their bank check documentation — it is vital that your property’s documentation is in order.
Owners of rural properties should know how the house on their land is classified: ‘vivienda’ (dwelling), ‘almacén’ (storage building), etc, as this will determine the asking price, and should also know the exact boundaries of their land.
Check that your ‘escritura’ (title deed) accurately describes your property and that any anomalies can be resolved. Get this done as early as possible — few things are as frustrating as losing or delaying a sale because documentation is not in order.
Your agent should have a good basic understanding of these issues and how any problems can be solved.


3| Pricing: keep it real!


Prices have dropped substantially, so ask your agent for a ‘no-punches-pulled’ opinion of how much your property is really likely to sell for.
If you are prepared to pay for it, an up-to-date bank valuation is useful for setting a realistic selling price and for countering low offers.


4| Prepare your property for sale


Not something that has caught on with Spanish sellers yet, the idea of preparing or ‘staging’ a home has inspired numerous TV programs, books and websites.
Important ideas include ‘decluttering’ and using a light, neutral decor to heighten the feeling of space and appeal to as many buyers as possible. Your estate agent can tell you which changes will help a sale.
For potential buyers of rural properties, access is a key issue, so if you are selling a finca consider improving difficult stretches of track.

5| Know your tax liability


Before 2007, residents and non-residents of Spain paid capital gains tax at different rates. Both now pay the same rate, but in some circumstances it may be worth becoming a resident of Spain — a fairly simple procedure for EU citizens.
While your estate agent cannot offer legal or tax advice, he or she should be able to tell you if this applies to you or not.


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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What property buyers
are looking for right now

FARMHOUSEDespite the credit crunch, fewer sales and falling prices all pointing to the downturn in the Spanish property market, there are still people buying out there. The declining economy, adverse exchange rate and harder mortgage criteria have hit many would-be buyers hard, but others want or need to purchase now.


Let’s take a look at some ‘typical’ buyers (names changed of course!) and the kind of thing they are searching for:


TOWNHOUSE1) Barcelona’s urban refugees
Joan and Gemma live in a small rented apartment in a trendy barrio of Barcelona, and have a three year old child.

While they love the city, Barcelona is increasingly noisy and polluted, and they long for a weekend country refuge that will eventually become their home. Their ideal is an old stone farmhouse of 90m2-180m2, with at least 2 hectares of land and water, in an attractive inland location.
Mains electricity is not an issue: Joan and Gemma are committed to solar power and intend to be as self sufficient as possible. Major structural work is not an problem either, and they can spend up to 100.000 euros on the right property.


2) Sold up in UK, need to relocate fast
Mike and Sue have retired early and have already sold their house in the UK. Their children live here, and Mike and Sue were about to buy a finca with a house… which turned out to have been built illegally. Their funds are in Spain and they need to find something soon.
They are looking for at least 5.000 m2 of land with water and reasonable access, and a 2 or 3 bed house registered as a dwelling with no legality issues. They don’t mind changing kitchens and bathrooms, but won’t want to tackle major structural work.
Their budget is 250.000 euros, they don’t need a mortgage and they can complete quickly.

FARMHOUSE
3) Small country getaway retreats
Peter and Monica are a cosmopolitan Dutch/Catalan couple that have lived and worked on the Costa Dorada for some years.
They are attracted by the idea of a cosy country refuge for weekend breaks. Peter has worked refitting yacht interiors, and is looking forward to having a new project to keep him busy.
The couple want a finca with 10.000 m2 of land or more, with great mountain or sea views, about an hour’s drive from Tarragona. 4x4 only access is not a problem, nor is overgrown land. Water is desirable.
A stone-built ‘casita’ of 40 or 50m2 would be ideal, and they expect to have to do some structural work. They’ll pay up to 60.000 euros for the right property, if it has water.
Left: a terrace is a requirement for most townhouse buyers


4) Something for the weekend…
Jordi and Marta live in an apartment in one of Barcelona’s many sprawling suburbs, and want a traditional 3 bed village house for weekends, which they plan to eventually retire to.
The house should be not more than 40 minutes from the sea and 2 hours from Barcelona, with natural light and some kind of outside space, like a terrace. While they expect to have to change kitchen and bathroom and do some reform work, they don’t want a ruin.
Their budget is up to about 130.000 euros.


This is a small snapshot of the kind of buyers around right now. We are seeing relatively more enquiries from Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia, and interestingly, a surge in enquiries from Russian clients.
Finally, if you have a property to sell anywhere in or around Tarragona province, we’d love to hear from you.


Jeff Greensmith runs www.fincasdirect.com and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

joke

 

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USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS

EMERGENCIES


- FIRE DEPARTMENT 085
- CAMBRILS FIRE DEPARTMENT 977 795 080
- REUS FIRE DEPARTMENT 977 770 080
- TARRAGONA FIRE DEPARTMENT 977 549 959
- GENERAL EMERGENCIES 112
- CIVIL GUARD 977 380 106
( GUARDIA URBANA) 062
-CATALAN AUTONOMOUS POLICE 088(24hr)
- MOSSOS D'ESQUADRA (MUNICIPAL GUARD)
TARRAGONA 977 635 300 OR 088
- CITY POLICE 977 309 212 OR 092
-NATIONAL POLICE 091
-SEA RESCUE 900 202 202
- LIFEGUARDS & WATER RESCUE 657818023-657818021
- WATER RESCUE, TARRAGONA 977216203-977216215
- AMBULANCE SERVICE 092 OR 977 381 717
- MEDICAL EMERGENCIES 061
- HOSPITAL JOAN XXIII, TARRAGONA 977 295 800
- HOSPITAL SANT JOAN, REUS 977 310 300


Citizens advice bureau: 012
•Traffic emergencies: 088
•Consumer information: 012

 

 

Lost credit cards in Spain


VISA and Mastercard: 915 196000
American Express: 915 720 320
Other cards: 902 114 400
Lost credit cards / international
VISA: 900 974 445
Mastercard: 900 971 231

HOLIDAYS

Public holidays in Catalonia:1 January: New Year’s Day; 6 January / Epiphany (Feast of the Three Kings); March-april: Good Friday;March-april: Easter Monday; 1 May: Labour Day; 24 June: Saint John (midsummer); 15 August: Asumption of Mary; 11 September: Catalan National Day; 12 Octobre: Feast of the Hispanic Peoples; 1 November: All Saints’ Day, 6 December: Constitution Day; 8 December: Immaculate Conception of Mary; 25 December: Christmas; 26 December: Saint Stephen (Boxing Day).

EMBASSIES & CONSULATES

Barcelona British Consulate-
Avenida Diagonal, 477, 13º
08036 Barcelona
Tel.: 933 666 200
Fax: 933 666 221
British Embassy Spain
C/ Fernando el Santo, 16
28010 Madrid
Tel.: 91 700 82 00 - 91 319 0200
Fax: 91 700 82 72


The Embassy of Ireland:
Ireland House
Paseo de la Castellana 46-4
28046 Madrid
Telephone: 00 34 91 436 4093
Fax: +34-91-435-1677
Email: [email protected]
Irish Honorary Consul General
Gran Via Carlos III, 94
08028 Barcelona
Telephone: 00 34 93 491 5021
Fax: 00 34 93 490 09 86
Email: [email protected]


Generalkonsulat Deutschland
Passeig de Garcia, 111
08008 Barcelona
Telephone: 932 921 000
Fax: 932 921 002


Generalkonsulat Schweiz
Gran Via de Carlos III, 94
08028 Barcelona
Telephone: 933 309 211


Generalkonsulat Osterreich
Calle Mallorca,214
08008 Barcelona
Telephone: 934 537 294
Fax:934 534 980


Nederlandse Ambassade
Avenida Comandante Franco, 32
28016 Madrid
Telephone: 913 537 500
Fax: 913 537 565

 


 

 

 

 

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IF YOU WANT TO REACH EXPATS IN
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Looking for a business then visit our business directory online.

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