Q. Under the Horizontal Law, do the gardens of the townhouses within the Community belong to the owners of each property or to the Community which allows the owners the right to use them as their private land ?
In the case of a damaged water pipe or electric line feeding the property, is the owner responsible for the repair or the Community?
I should think that the Community is responsible for the services from the central meter position to the point of entry to the property. Perhaps different insurance companies hold differing views on this.
R.B. (Costa Blanca)
A. First, you are correct to point out that the gardens are in fact the property of the Community, which assigns the exclusive use to each owner. It is the same for terraces. All those apartment terraces do not really belong to the apartment owners. The completely private property ends at the exterior wall of the structure.
The basic legal doctrine for electric, water or gas services is that from the main line to the meter, the company is responsible for maintenance and repair.
From the meter into the consumer’s property, the owner is responsible. Now you suppose that, if the Community is the real owner of this pipe, they must be responsible for its upkeep. But no, the Spanish courts have routinely ruled that ‘exclusive use’ means the individual owner is obligated to pay to fix the broken line from the meter to his property.
And, yes, in those Communities where the meters for water or electricity are grouped in a central location, this means long pipelines to each individual flat or house. This makes it easy for the meter-readers, but increases the owner’s risk.
In real life, if you had followed us closely over the last few months, you would have seen differing outcomes, just as you suggest.
In one case, the Community accepted responsibility with no problem. They paid for the repair. However, in another case, the owner had to pay.
There are two steps you can take. You can propose to the Community at the AGM that they install individual meters at the entrance to each property, or that they formally accept responsibility for the maintenance. You can also make sure your insurance will cover you.