– About the rules concerning latent defects –
Finally, you’ve just gotten the key to your new home! Everything seems to be in order, but then suddenly you find yourself dealing with a leak in the bathroom due to drain or sewer system problems. While you still may be able to laugh about such misfortunes when watching programs such as “I am leaving” or “A place under the sun”, you won’t find it amusing if it happens to you in your own newly purchased home. And certainly not if that house is far away in Spain.
What are latent defects?
Latent defects are issues or problems that may not be visible from the outside. And certainly not if the previous owner has just had it painted to make everything look perfect. As a house hunter, you may have little experience in this area. It would be difficult for you to see whether, for example, asbestos has been used in places where it has long been prohibited. Or that there is woodworm or mold that affects the frames. You may have also visit the house in summer, during the dry season. And then in winter, it starts dripping rainwater in the living room.
Better safe than sorry
An enormous amount was built in Spain in the 70s and 80s and often it was rushed. The right materials were not always used. Houses had to be sold quickly and construction companies could hardly handle the high demand. Most of these houses would no longer meet today’s building regulations. New construction homes must meet current standards and are comparable to the Dutch GIW (Guarantee Institute for Housing Construction) guarantee. Although, as a buyer, you should always stay alert and check whether this is really the case.
The Spanish guaranty system
In Spain, the guaranty system is used in accordance with the “Ley de Ordenacion de la Edificacion (LOE)”, which are rules regulation construction and home supervision. This law is intended for all parties involved in the construction. It requires three different insurance policies, the duration of which varies and which relate to different matters:
- Insurance that the contractor is responsible for any and all repair of latent defects affecting the new structure or parts for the 1st year;
- Insurance that the project developer is responsible for 3 years for damage caused by defects within the structure, parts or (technical) installations;
- Insurance that the project developer is responsible for repairing damages for 10 years, that are a direct result of defects due to poor or defective structural elements.
The periods mentioned in the law often start when the contractor’s home is handed over to the project developer and not at the time when you receive the key. An important point, because since the crisis that started in 2007, many construction projects have been at a standstill for some time while they postponed the completion and/or sale due to the fall in prices, and are only now being completed. The warranty period may have already run out long before you bought the house, so claims can no longer be submitted and the costs of any repairs will have to be paid by you.
And what if…?
Of course, we’ll help you and are happy to explain what you should pay attention to. Additionally, it is advisable to also involve a technical architect or structural engineer with existing buildings. It may cost you a few hundred euros, but that money often ensures that you are not faced with unpleasant surprises which could turn out to be much more expensive. Should you encounter latent defects after the purchase, Spanish law offers buyers several options for taking action. You have up to six months after the transfer to discover and report latent defects and to raise this with the selling party. If the selling party is not willing to come to a resolution regarding your claim, you’ll have to go through the courts.
Is the seller’s realtor liable?
You must keep in mind that in Spain, with real estate transactions, the sales agent is often only a commercial intermediary. He or she is not a legal adviser and therefore cannot be held liable if latent defects are found. So pay attention during your real estate search and hire an expert to prevent this type of problem.