The first thing to note, that people don’t always realise, is that the land registry and notary offices have not ceased their activity due to the coronavirus crisis. Indeed, this has been confirmed by the College of Registrars and the General Council of Notaries who released a continuity plan as well as a list of measures to guarantee the provision of land registry and notarial services to the general public. We can also confirm this from experience, as we have completed the majority of sales that were programmed to be signed at the end of March and in April.
Land Registry Offices
We have called the Land Registry office in Jijona (where Busot title deeds are registered) on several occasions during the last few weeks and they have been happy to help. It didn’t feel any different to when we call them during “normal times”. In addition, we often request documentation from them using their on-line service and this service continues to operate and is the recommended way to request documentation during the quarantine, for example, to request a copy of the “Nota Simple” (the summary of the title deeds) of a property.
So, the only difference now is that we cannot physically go to their offices to present documents but we (and Notaries, Solicitors and Gestors) can send documents to them by courier service.
So, basically business continues as normal.
Of course, the Notary office is a bit different as they cannot complete sales by courier!
The General Council of Notaries (CGN) announced that notaries will not shut down as being a public office, notarial offices "cannot close". However, they are prioritising completing the urgent cases which predominantly means the transactions that require a mortgage which will “expire” if not completed by a certain date.
As part of the plan to avoid COVID-19 infections, the CGN has launched a series of precautions for those visits to the notary that are necessary.
Here are the safety measures in place to protect buyers and sellers while at the notary:
1. Only the interested party, the interpreters and the witnesses will enter the notary.
2. No more time than is essential will be spent inside the notarial office.
3. The interested party must apply the "self-protection measures" (gloves, masks).
4. Recommended distances of at least one and a half meters will be maintained.
5. A shift system will be established where each party will enter the notary office at a time one after the other.
6. The notary will issue a document to each party to justify their movement on the road if required by the police.
7. It is advised to take your own pen from home.
What to do if you cannot get to Spain!
There are, of course, planned completions that cannot happen (even though the Notary and Land Registry offices are working) as one or both of the parties cannot get to Spain. This situation has highlighted how important it is to follow one of the pieces of advice that we and legal advisors typically give to facilitate your purchase and ensure that no unexpected events (such as a Coronavirus Lockdown) give you any headaches; Sign a Power of Attorney.
We always recommend to buyers that when they are in Spain and have found their perfect property, they fit in a trip to the Notary office to give their legal advisor the power to complete the sale once they have returned home. Whilst you are sorting out the move from your home country to Spain, it makes much more sense to leave your representative to arrange the completion of the purchase and for those who followed this advice they are not losing any sleep over how to get to Spain to carry out the completion during the Coronavirus Quarantine.
All is not lost for those who didn’t sign a power of attorney before leaving Spain (both buyers and sellers), as they can sign a power of attorney in their home country. It is important that this power of attorney is drafted by your legal advisor and a) is translated into the language of your home country so that your local Notary can witness it correctly, and b) it is then sent by courier to the Spanish Embassy or Consulate to receive what’s called the “Apostille” (a kind of official stamp). Only then can you send it back to your legal advisor by courier who will present it to the Notary office to show that they can complete the sale for you. If you sign a Power of Attorney in Spain you avoid having to complete the points a and b above.
We hope this article is of use to you and helps you to better understand your possibilities and the procedures for property completions during this difficult time.
At Rural Coast, we apply the changes in the law and regulations to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues and lots of safe and happy completions!