The Horizontal Property Act 49/1960
Commonhold is the standard for residential and commercial property in Spain since the sixties and according to the last figures more than 85% of the owners of a property in Spain are under the provisions of the Spanish Commonhold Act 49/1960. The field of commonhold law is quite young, and it is a composite of both old and new. The basic principles undergirding commonhold law rest in property and servitude law, but they encompass much more. The threads of corporate law, municipal law, contract law, and other disciplines weave throughout. The relationship to, yet the departure from, these various legal fields and how the resulting principles apply and grow are all much a part of the subject.
It is called ‘horizontal property’ because when the Act was enacted in the 1960’s, the country was flooded with blocks of flats.
The term commonhold describes a form of land ownership which combines freehold ownership of a single property with membership of a corporate body that owns and manages the common parts of the development.
- The ‘common parts’ could include shared facilities such as the roof, stairs, swimming pool and any common areas
- Each owner is the individual owner of his own unit and joint owner in forced ‘indivision’ of the common parts.
- The common parts are owned and managed by a particular juristic person known as the Community of Owners
Although the commonhold structure outlined in the Act appears simple, a great deal lies below the waterline. The rules and regulations that go to make up the remainder of the structure are to be found in a number of different statutory materials.
The genesis of commonhold law in Spain can be traced back at least as far as the point when the Spanish Civil Code was given royal assent in 1889. The first reference to commonhold land was provided by section 396 of Civil Code (which was amended after Spanish civil war in 1939).
Because the proliferation of blocks of flats throughout Spain, the legislator recognised the inadequacies of the existing law which failed to meet the needs of communal living. Accordingly, the Horizontal Property act 4/1960 was created.
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