Have you decided to purchase a property in Spain and are at the beginning of partway through the searching or buying process? If so, there is a good chance your plans have hit a brick wall due to a major complication called COVID, aided by its also somewhat complicated ally, Brexit.
Buying a Property In Spain When You Can’t Visit the Country
COVID-19 has caused enormous headaches for British would-be buyers in Europe, as depending on government regulations that seem to change on an almost daily basis, travel is severely restricted. Even if authorities allow you to travel to your country of choice, you will likely be required to quarantine for at least ten days once you arrive home. For many people, this is entirely impractical, totally undesirable, or impossible.
Further complications for potential buyers in Spain include that businesses deemed as “non-essential” are not permitted to open in certain regions, meaning you may not be able to work with an estate agent as usual. Hotels are mostly closed due to a lack of clientele, and finding accommodation may prove difficult.
If you have managed to maneuver your way through these difficulties and have found the property of your dreams, it may not be possible for you to return to Spain when the time comes to sign the all-important paperwork at the required times.
Although not such a problem at the time of writing, as full Brexit has only been in force for a matter of weeks, from January 2021 from now on, British nationals can spend no more than 90 days in Spain during any 180 days. Therefore, if you have used up your “allowance”, like those who can’t be present due to COVID rules, being in Spain at the necessary time to conclude the buying process could prove difficult.
Enter the Power of Attorney
Having a Power of Attorney in Spain is the ideal solution during occasions such as these.
In Spain, a Power of Attorney is known as ‘Escritura de Poder,’ often shortened to ‘Poder’.
A Power of Attorney is a legally approved document stating you have appointed a licensed professional or a family member or friend to carry out transactions on your behalf.
It is used when people cannot attend to their legal obligations at places or events, and that person wants to be represented by another person. It is a practical way of transferring authority.
What can the selected person authorise?
The appointed representative can make decisions, submit documents, and sign contracts on behalf of the client. When it comes to buying or selling a property in Spain, the POA allows the appointee to:
- Open and have control over bank accounts
- Sign documents through the buying process, including the day of completion
- Apply for a NIE on your behalf
- Arrange utilities
- Contract insurance policies
- Deal with tax issues
- Pay bills
- Resolve any demands required by authorities
When purchasing a property, most buyers in Spain will appoint their property lawyer as their Power of Attorney. It makes sense to appoint the person who is assisting you professionally to buy the property.
While you can appoint friends or family, it should be someone familiar with the Spanish buying process.
Cut the hassle
The infamous Spanish bureaucracy is one of the biggest challenges for foreigners buying a property or moving to Spain. The government, banks, town halls, notaries, etc., adore lengthy and complicated forms. This is made even more frustrating in autonomous communities like Catalunya, where documents are only provided in the regional language.
The Power of Attorney document
A Power of Attorney document should cover the following details.
- Your personal details and those of the person you wish to represent you.
- The power you confer to the person. You can grant powers connected toa specific task or give more general powers. The person will not be able to perform other tasks for you not specified in the POA.
- The details of the notary who witnessed you sign the document.
Power of Attorney and residency
Having a Power of Attorney does not allow another person to apply for residency in Spain on your behalf. This procedure requires that you go to the relevant office in person.
How should the Power of Attorney be composed?
You must use a reliable, independent lawyer to draft a Power of Attorney for you. It is advised you ask for a copy translated into English if you don’t speak a reasonable standard of Spanish.
Unless you define when you would like it to end, a Power of Attorney does not expire. But your death or loss of mental function cancels a Power of Attorney.
Only give power of attorney to a reputable lawyer or someone you really trust. You are giving legal powers to a third party, so always think carefully before proceeding.