Tacky tale of Community debtors


Local 17I HAVE received an email from one of our readers, which really is worth discussing because it can affect so many people who pay community fees.

I am on the management committee of a large complex, on which one-third of owners are debtors.

Any debtor who owes more than 500 euros after three months is taken to Court. We also have a payment scheme for those in debt but in genuine hardship. But many debtors are playing the system because Court cases take so long.

Have you any suggestions or ideas to offer which would legally force these debtors to pay what they owe? And is it possible for you to feature this in the Canarian Weekly?

Thank you, D


I have written about these Community problems in previous columns. But in any case, it is a good idea to repeat them.   Unfortunately, though, there is no other solution other than take the debtors to Court.

Those owners who do not pay their dues cause many problems to the Community and the other owners who are, in fact, all up to date and are financing the non-payers.

For instance, the Community pays for maintenance of the pool, which can be used by all owners, including those who are in arrears for at least one year.

If the debtors represent a big percentage, the Community has no money to pay for the electricity or water supplies of its area. And if the electricity is cut off, there is no distinction between payers and debtors.

There is a legal solution to this problem: sue the debtors. But before starting legal action, it is advisable to send every debtor a lawyer’s letter of requirement. Some debtors will surely pay after the requirement; others will not and they should be taken to Court. After the claim there would be several possibilities:

*The debtor pays immediately to avoid serious consequences and more expenses. Remember that the legal fees, interests and costs paid in advance by the Community should be recovered

*The debtor tries to negotiate a deal. In this case, the Community should consider the advantages and disadvantages of accepting partial payments from an irregular payer, taking into account that any deal should include old and new instalments

*The debtor does not pay. In this case, the Community should attach the property (“embargo”) at the Land Registry (after the judgement) to force the sale by auction. A preventive attachment (previous to the judgement) would be also possible.

The Community’s first step would be to call an extraordinary meeting to approve the debt of every apartment, bearing in mind that, logically, non-paying owners do not have a right to vote at the meeting.

The Certificate of the agreements approving the debts would be handed in as written evidence at Court. The worst thing to do is to keep arms crossed, awaiting the debtor’s decision.

Mariano E. Zunino Siri is a registered lawyer at the Tenerife Bar Association.

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Posted by on Sep 18 2015. Filed under Legal Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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