It may seem an obvious statement, but it is important to keep your affairs in order. You would be surprised how many individuals and businesses slowly lose track of things such as accounts, taxes, rates and the accompanying paperwork. It’s a bit like climbing a slippery slope – once you start to lose your footing the chance of sliding all the way down becomes ever greater.

For that reason it is best to stay on top of things, and to do this you need to know what your basic rights and obligations are; what is owing to you and what you owe others, including the authorities. This applies to businesses, but also to private individuals, especially those who own property. When you own a property abroad you must bear in mind that it almost always comes with its own running and administration costs.

The property has to be registered and certain property taxes and rates are payable on an annual basis. The latter includes utilities such as water and electricity, but also municipal rates for services such as garbage collection. In Spain these are known as IBI and Basura. Now you might think that I am stating the obvious here, but it all depends on being well informed, and unfortunately not everybody who owns property abroad is.

Perez Legal Group was recently contacted by a panic-stricken couple from England who own an apartment in Marbella, which was being embargoed by the town hall because no municipal rates and taxes had ever been paid. Over a period of four years the outstanding sum, including interest penalties, had grown to 11,000 Euros. Having spent most of the time in the UK, with no arrangement to receive bills and other post from Spain, the couple were blissfully unaware of the mounting debt and possible repercussions.

You can imagine their shock when word finally got to them that the local authorities had embargoed their property and could, at least theoretically, take it off them. In practice this measure is used more as a means of getting through to errant homeowners, but it is impossible to sell, rent out or take out a loan against a property under embargo, so it’s the kind of situation you want to resolve as soon as possible.

It didn’t take our team long to find out exactly what was owed, and in the process we uncovered some other outstanding debts as well. Had the amount been under 6,000 Euros we would have been able to apply for stage payments, but in the end the couple paid the full amount off in one go and cleared their names. From now on they will be sure to stay on top of their affairs in Spain, employing a property manager or gestor to keep them fully up to date, but if you do so from the outset you can save yourself a lot of money and grief.

Perez Legal Group was founded to meet the need among expatriate residents and businesses for clear, professional, bilingual advice and representation in the fields of legal, tax, administrative and accounting services. We pride ourselves on the transparency of our charging system, so contact us for a complete list of prices for paralegal, accounting and legal services at info@perezlegalgroup.com or Tel: +34 952 833 169