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What happens to the debts of the previous owner in the community?

When buying a second-hand property or premises, it is important to take into account the debts owed to the community by the previous owner. Many people may be affected without realising it.

Do the debts of the previous owner in the community have to be assumed?

Article 9 of the Horizontal Property Law (LPH) in its section e), includes the real affectation of the property to the existing debt, at the expense of the new purchaser of the property and indicates the following: "The purchaser of a flat or premises under the horizontal property regime, even with title registered in the Land Registry, is liable with the property acquired for the amounts owed to the community of owners for the maintenance of the general expenses by the previous owners up to the limit of those that are attributable to the expired part of the annual period in which the acquisition takes place and to the three previous calendar years. The flat or premises shall be legally subject to the fulfilment of this obligation". This means that the payment of debts with the Community extends to the debts of the current year and to those in force for the previous 3 years.

If, for example, you purchase a property in May 2022 and the property has debts from 2017 that have not been paid by the former owner. Taking into account the provisions of article 9. e) of the LPH, the new owner will have to pay the debts of the last three calendar years prior to the purchase, therefore 2019, 2020 and 2021. As well as the debts for the months of January, February, March and April 2022.

The Community will not be able to claim from the buyer and new owner of the property any debts from 2017 and 2018. Debts prior to 2019 can only be claimed from the previous owner, as long as they are not time-barred (debts are time-barred after 5 years).

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