Compensation for building defects in Spanish property

How to claim compensation for building defects in your Spanish property

If you have bought a property in Spain and you have found building defects, it is possible to claim compensation.

The law “Ley 38/1999 de 5 de Noviembre, de Ordenación de la Edificación” regulates these kind of matters. Alvaro Porcar Agustí of Porcar Abogados, a leading company of solicitors in Valencia offers the following advice to property buyers in Spain who have discovered defects in their new homes.

I.- What to do when building defects appear?

It is advisable that you take down the date when the defect appears, take photos, contact a notary and include the discovery in the property community book.

II.- Who should make the claim?

In theory, any owner can claim, but in practice it is usually the chairman of the proprietary community who makes the claim on behalf of the property owner(s).

III.- What is the time limit?

  • One year since the building was completed for defects related to finishings
  • Three years since completion for inhabitable defects
  • Ten years since completion for major structural and foundation defects.

Note that any claims must be made within two years of the appearance of defects in the property.
IV.- How do I know who is responsible?

In the town planning department of your city hall you will be able to find out the promoter, construction company, architect and clerk of works of your property.

V.- How do I make my claim?

Always in writing, first of all to the promoter and builder company, to try and reach a friendly claim. Any lawyer can make the claim for you, and claims will need to be written in Spanish.

If the friendly claim fails, it will be necessary to go to court and you are advised to get an estimate of costs from your lawyer before embarking on legal action.

VI.- Is my claim likely to be successful?

The rate of favourable solutions is actually very high, though obviously each case is different and the process can be quite lengthy. In most cases the courts rule against all the parties that took part in the construction of your property (promoter, builder company, architect and clerk of works).

Furthermore, all buildings initiated after May 2000, have a full insurance policy to cover structure and foundation damages. Architects are also covered by a compulsory professional insurance policy and in both cases the policies provide guarantee of the solvency, when court sentence arrives.