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Hi all.

I recently bought a very small property in Andalucia. (I'd prefer to be no more specific than that as frankly this is embarrassing.) It's at the back of a shared terraced house. You go through a corridor with small apartments off it, then through a small courtyard, then through a private gate and into a very large tiled patio complete with orange tree and a single storey small house at the end of it.

It was incredibly cheap and there is potential planning permission to build on the flat roof. So I bought it with a view to gradually fixing it up and retiring there in about five years time.

My Spanish is passable but limited so when I looked through the escrituras and the plans, I was concerned that it didn't seem to be 100% clear about who owns the patio. I raised this with the estate agent, who told me that I have "exclusive use but not exclusive access," meaning that neighbours could come into the back if they needed to clean their windows, for instance.

I have friends, both English and Spanish, who live nearby and they thought this explanation was satisfactory.

But now I've been in touch with an architect to talk about the work I want to do on it, including building on the roof. She asked me to send her the escrituras, so she can get full clarification on planning permission. Once I sent them, she got in touch with me to say I don't own the patio after all. In her opinion it's a common part of the property and the neighbours have as much access to it as I do.

The neighbours don't seem to realise that - they seem to regard it as mine only. So there's a temptation to let sleeping dogs lie. But I would hate for someone to buy the adjoining property in a few years time and start contesting the issue.

Does anyone have experience of this? Any thoughts on a solution?
 

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Hi all.

I recently bought a very small property in Andalucia. (I'd prefer to be no more specific than that as frankly this is embarrassing.) It's at the back of a shared terraced house. You go through a corridor with small apartments off it, then through a small courtyard, then through a private gate and into a very large tiled patio complete with orange tree and a single storey small house at the end of it.

It was incredibly cheap and there is potential planning permission to build on the flat roof. So I bought it with a view to gradually fixing it up and retiring there in about five years time.

My Spanish is passable but limited so when I looked through the escrituras and the plans, I was concerned that it didn't seem to be 100% clear about who owns the patio. I raised this with the estate agent, who told me that I have "exclusive use but not exclusive access," meaning that neighbours could come into the back if they needed to clean their windows, for instance.

I have friends, both English and Spanish, who live nearby and they thought this explanation was satisfactory.

But now I've been in touch with an architect to talk about the work I want to do on it, including building on the roof. She asked me to send her the escrituras, so she can get full clarification on planning permission. Once I sent them, she got in touch with me to say I don't own the patio after all. In her opinion it's a common part of the property and the neighbours have as much access to it as I do.

The neighbours don't seem to realise that - they seem to regard it as mine only. So there's a temptation to let sleeping dogs lie. But I would hate for someone to buy the adjoining property in a few years time and start contesting the issue.

Does anyone have experience of this? Any thoughts on a solution?
:welcome:

I'd take the word of the architect over the agent tbh

the agent had something to gain by fudging the issue - the architect doesn't as far as I can see

I'm confused as to what the connection between building onto a flat roof & the patio ownership is, though :confused:
 

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Sorry about the flat roof bit - that was just background info not really relevant to my main concern, which is the patio.

Yes, I agree that the architect's word is much more likely to be reliable. There is a possibility, though, that she is simply wrong, as my friends didn't see any problem.

I'm more concerned with the way forward - how do I find a solution? If there isn't one, I'd probably put it back up for sale although that would hurt as I paid out a lot of gastos. I would certainly pursue the estate agent to return his commission as it seems he may have earned it on the basis of bum advice.
 

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Sorry about the flat roof bit - that was just background info not really relevant to my main concern, which is the patio.

Yes, I agree that the architect's word is much more likely to be reliable. There is a possibility, though, that she is simply wrong, as my friends didn't see any problem.

I'm more concerned with the way forward - how do I find a solution? If there isn't one, I'd probably put it back up for sale although that would hurt as I paid out a lot of gastos. I would certainly pursue the estate agent to return his commission as it seems he may have earned it on the basis of bum advice.
You really need to check the escritura and the cadastral - carefully. These should tell you exactly what it is that you have bought and/or registered.

Do you have proof that the agent told you the patio was yours?
 

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I might be completely missing something here, but it sounds like the agent and the architect have said pretty much the same thing:

The agent:

...I raised this with the estate agent, who told me that I have "exclusive use but not exclusive access," meaning that neighbours could come into the back if they needed to clean their windows, for instance.
The architect:

she got in touch with me to say I don't own the patio after all. In her opinion it's a common part of the property and the neighbours have as much access to it as I do.
They are both saying that the neighbours have access to the patio. However the agent has said in addition that the neighbours don't have use of the patio. So basically they can enter the patio but they can't start sunbathing there. Or something like that. But to me the important thing is that neither the agent nor the architect has said that the op owns the patio.
 

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They are both saying that the neighbours have access to the patio. However the agent has said in addition that the neighbours don't have use of the patio. So basically they can enter the patio but they can't start sunbathing there. Or something like that. But to me the important thing is that neither the agent nor the architect has said that the op owns the patio.
I agree, I suspect no-one 'owns' it but all have access.

This does raise a question - if it needs repairing, who is responsible? There's no landlord as the piso's are owned individually. For small blocks of flats, there isn't necessarily a community and so no 'president' or monthly fees.

I own a 'block' of flats (just 5 in the block). If I sold them all, how would the electricity for the stairs get paid and who is responsible for any repairs? Would I have to put this sort of detail in the escritura in some way?
 

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As far as I know there has to be a community if the flats are individually owned, because there will inevitably be common areas such as stairways and the main entrance. However even if the community owns various parts of the building, the escrituras often contain clauses saying that a certain flat has exclusive use to certain parts. A typical example is the balcony of an atico: the owners of the atico have the use of the balcony all to themselves, but they don't own it so they can't start building on it without the permission of the community.

If you sold your flats I imagine you would have to include shared ownership of common areas within the escrituras, which in turn would also define the community as being the owners of each flat.
 
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