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Concordance between the Catastro Registry and the Land Registry

von María José García Garrido

An important issue for the legality of our properties

Today we will speak about a current matter, a matter that is very important in relation to purchases and sales of properties in Spain because it can complicate the issue and frustrate the whole operation.

Explained in an easy way, understandable for everyone and with a basic example: if someone owns a piece of land in Spain with a house on it, the plot as well as the house have to be correctly registered in the Land Registry and in the Catastro Registry . During the process of purchasing a property (plots, houses, ...) the involved parties sign a public document, the public property deed (Escritura publica de propiedad) which contains the description of the property, information like the situation, dimension, general description, boundaries etc. The purchaser acquires the property according to these details, which are going to be registered in the Land Registry, which is a civil and administrative registry. This means that the content of the public deed is going to be registered in the Land Registry; moreover, nowadays the aforementioned deed has to contain the catastral reference (this was not necessary some years ago). This is a number that identifies the property in another registry, the Catastro Registry, which is a tax registry that contains the areal plans of the property, square meters and fiscal value.

Given the situation of two active registries, in many cases we are having several frequent problems: the details of both registries do not match and sometimes one of the registries or even both do not contain the "real details" of the property.

Why is this happening? There are several reasons. Firstly, in the past the rules for including the description details in public documents in Spain were not very strict. The registered details of old properties were not exact, they only registered approximations. The second reason is that the Castrato Registry and it's activity are quite new and properties that have been acquired in the past don't even have a catastral reference, as it was not legally necessary then. The third reason is that during the creation of the Catastro issue, they only took into consideration the fiscal details they needed for this registry.

Nowadays, our laws and administrative and fiscal controls have changed and improved a lot, a fact that has occasioned a radical change and it is now legally necessary that the details of the Land Registry and the public deed do perfectly match with the Catastro Registry and that both registries contain the real details of the property and not just an approximation.

Which solutions do we have? As the legislator is aware of the current problems, there are established steps to be followed in order to compare the details in the reality/Land Registry/ Catastro Registry. In case that the details do not match, there are established legal ways to solve the problem. There are different ways of solution, depending on the problem and if the error is in the Catastro Registry, the Land Registry or a combination of them. Usually it is necessary the intervention of a lawyer who has to revise if there are any existing discrepancies and if so the lawyer will determinate the solution and if necessary an architect or surveyor will have to elaborate the corresponding report, which is going to be the basis of the necessary modifications that will be registered in the corresponding registry where the problem lays.

Actually, the owners who are planning to sell have to take into consideration these problems and revise if the details do match in the different registries and if they are up-to-date. In case there are any errors, it would be necessary to correct them in order to avoid problems during the sale because everyone that is planning to acquire a property in Spain, will request fully legality of the property object of the purchase.

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