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Unmarried couple owning property in Spain

This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted

Mary and Jane have been a couple for the last twenty years. The idea of getting married never crossed their minds. They are both happily retired. They have sold their London flat and have just relocated to Andorra where they are renting until they decide on their next move. Together they have a flat in joint names in Barcelona which they bought 2 years ago for €500,000, there is no mortgage. They both confess that they have never paid any tax to the Spanish tax authorities as the flat is not rented out and that neither of them have made a will. They come to our offices for advice

We mention that the fact that they are not married and that as they have no Will the estate will not pass to the surviving (non-married) partner on the death of one of them. This could be a major problem. In Spain, there is no equivalent to an English joint tenancy. The position is closer to tenants in common. Therefore, if Mary predeceases Jane, Mary’s share in the flat will pass to her legal heirs. We advise them to either enter into a Civil Partnership/Marriage or to make a will so they are both protected.

We also bring up the issue of Spanish income tax, which will be due even if the property is not rented out. At present, they will have to pay a rate of 19% on a value derived from the cadastral value of the property. This has to be paid no later than 31st December each year. They will have to file the outstanding returns and also pay the late payment penalty, plus interest.

After Brexit the rate of taxation may be higher for UK nationals (who will no longer be EU nationals)

November 2018
Álvaro Aznar Azcárate
Solicitor and Spanish Abogado
Sykes Anderson Perry Limited