Q. We have heard that the Spanish courts have ruled that communities are authorised to ban debtors from using certain community facilities, including the swimming pool. As the president of a large community, with a large debt, this would be very useful to us as a way to encourage owners who owe back community fees to pay up. I am not sure of how it could be enforced. So my question is: “Can we ban the debtors from using the community pool, and what precedent or law can we quote?”
Also the latest book I have is the 2011 edition of ‘You & the Law in Spain.’ Has an updated version been released?
P.B. (Costa del Sol)
A. No, the Spanish courts have not ruled that communities may prohibit debtors from using common areas, such as the pool. What has happened is that the General Directorate of Notaries and Land Registries, which rules over Community Statutes and Constitutions, decided in 2012 that communities could include a clause by which they prohibit the debtors from using common areas such as the pool or play areas for tennis or other activities. They base their decision on the fact that these areas are not essential to the right of property of the owners. However, this prohibition has not been confirmed by the courts. Therefore we cannot be sure that a case would be won if an owner protested to the judge that he was unlawfully prohibited from using the pool. In strict legal terms, this can be considered as harassment or coercion against the owner. This is the same legal principle that stops landlords from changing locks or cutting off electric or water supplies to tenants who do not pay the rent.
In any case, the prohibition clause has to be included in the basic Statutes of the Community and registered in the Land Registry.
To answer your question about ‘You & the Law in Spain,’ yes, there is a new 2015 edition, which you can obtain by sending an email to the law firm Ubeda-Retana & Associates, for the attention of David Searl, at the address given below. And thank you for asking.