Thursday, 19 May 2011

Community members average €124 in arrears

SPAIN/Province of CADIZ (Agencies) There have always been those community members in arrears; those who no matter how many notifications they receive owe their neighbours Comunidad de Propietarios money. Big problems arise when the number of debtors increases overwhelmingly. Recent statistics say that the average community debt in the province is €124, above the national avrage of €109, and about average for the whole of Andalucía. This, at any rate, comes from a study by a leading company dealing with the administration of communities. The survey is based on 120,000 properties from all over the country and elicits the very large total figure of €32million in this province alone, in turn based proportionately on the total of 261,000 properties containing five or more homes in Cádiz. The numbers include ordinary monthly charges as well as the extra-ordinary (technically called derrames) that cause so much trouble among neighbours.>One Administrador de Fincas, whose company carries the books of some 40 communities in such places as Cádiz, Rota, Jerez or Chiclana, says that there does not exist a single comunidad without its debtors. "It is 'normal' that some members are up to three months in arrears," says Manuel Martos, "but it is not unusual for there to be those who owe a lot more, maybe nine months or even up to €2,000."

Much of this is owed to the economic crisis, and community finances have been impacted. In several cases the community water or electricity has been cut off for lack of payment from the severely depleted community coffers. And banks have been increasingly unwilling to make bridging loans, even while most banks have taken back properties from owners who are unable to make payments on their mortgages and are thus having to pay for community fees themselves.

The main problems arise when extra money is needed for repairs or circumstances that require payment beyond the normal. Arguments arise increasingly among community members. It is hard to explain, says Martos, why one member has to pay for a water pipe being broken at the other end of the building, when it doesn't affect them. Or why the properties on the ground floor have to pay for lift repairs when they don't use the lift.

The law, however, says that they are all obliged to share in the expenses of communal property.

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