¿PERO QUÉS EL INTERCAMBIO?

SOL BRILLANTECiertamente el tiempo compartido apareció hace varias décadas como una fórmula idónea para facilitar la ocupación por turistas de alojamientos durante sus vacaciones.

 

Tuvo un gran éxito, ya que con un desembolso relativamente pequeño se lograba que varios miembros de una familia accedieran a disfrutaran sus vacaciones en el lugar de su elección.

Pero los usos turísticos evolucionaron rápidamente, ya que si bien los “turistas-unidad familiar” tenían como costumbre y preferencia la de repetir cada año el mismo lugar para sus vacaciones; hoy se prefiere un destino distinto cada año, y no sólo dentro del mismo país ni continente, sino a cualquier parte del mundo.

A esta necesidad la industria turística del tiempo compartido o aprovechamiento por turno respondió tempranamente con una nueva fórmula que viniera a responder a esa demanda y que no es otra que el llamado “intercambio”.

MARBELLA RESORT TURISTICO

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De forma muy simple el “intercambio” consiste en facilitar o mejor proporcionar la posibilidad de que un titular de un derecho de ocupación por turno en un complejo concreto, pueda cada año, si lo desea, cambiar temporalmente el alojamiento inherente su derecho de ocupación por el de otra persona que en las mismas circunstancias lo desease.

Pero ese concepto tan básico no es real, es decir, no quiere decir que un intermediario ponga en contacto directo a dos titulares que quieren intercambiar entre si y en un momento determinado el alojamiento al que cada uno tiene derecho a disfrutar, sino que se hace a través de un sistema que permite que cientos de miles de esta clase de titulares de derechos accedan a un sistema que, si permite ese efectivo intercambio, pero entre cientos de miles de personas.

Todo lo anterior es cierto, como es también cierto que el sistema funciona desde hace décadas.

Pero es importante también conocer cuál es la naturaleza jurídica de este derecho de intercambio, que no pocas veces se ha malinterpretado, en muchos casos para conseguir otros objetivos que no son los propios que se derivan de esta figura jurídica.

Para conseguir esos otros objetivos algunas veces se ha pretendido reducir al absurdo el objeto del contrato, con formulaciones tan simples como “ que el sistema de intercambio obligaba de modo absoluto a proporcionar un nuevo destino de ocupación de alojamiento, en el momento en que el usuario del sistema de intercambio simplemente lo solicitase, al lugar único de su eleeción, y sin atenerse a siquiera a la reserva con suficiente anticipación y en concurrencia con otros solicitantes.

Ello no es sólo incierto, sino imposible, como lo es que cualquier titular de un derecho de ocupación pudiese cada año, hasta el mismo día anterior al comienzo de su turno, tener a su disposición y disponibilidad cientos de alojamientos en cientos de destinos y en cientos de países. Podrá pensarse en ello como una extrema exageración, pero en no pocos casos se ha entendido, incluso en los tribunales, que ese debía ser el caso y que normas como la que se contiene en la frase “sujeto a disponibilidad”, no era más que una especie de truco que en realidad justificaba un inexistente compromiso del prestador del servicio o incluso un fraude. A ello se añade la idiosincrasia de cada cliente que quiere intercambiar, ya que mientras en algunos países es muy común la reserva del intercambio a última hora, en otros lo común la reserva re realiza con mucha antelación y por lo tanto con tanto mayor éxito en la confirmación de sus preferencias.

En la primera Directiva de tiempo compartido de 1994 no se definía cual es el ámbito objetivo del contrato de intercambio, más allá de que se trataba de un contrato aparte (o distinto) del propio aprovechamiento por turno concertado con el promotor del complejo y de la exigencia de ciertos requisitos de información.

Todo ello cambia de forma radical cuando en la Directiva 2008/122/CE se regula de forma más amplia este contrato, comenzando por la propia definición de su objeto, cuando se dice expresamente:

            “Se entiende por contrato de intercambio aquel en virtud del cual un consumidor se afilia, a título oneroso a un sistema de intercambio que le permita disfrutar de un alojamiento o de otros servicios a cambio de conceder a otras personas un disfrute temporal de las ventajas que suponen los derechos derivados de su contrato de aprovechamiento por turno de bienes de uso turístico”.

            Decía el escritor del Siglo de Oro español Baltasar Gracián que “lo poco si breve dos veces bueno”. Está máxima la cumple la citada definición del intercambio, por cuanto en pocas palabras se viene a determinar el objeto del contrato, quiénes son las partes en esta relación contractual y cuáles son las obligaciones de cada una de ellas:

            1.- El objeto del contrato en si es la prestación de un servicio que corre a cargo de un comerciante (“la red de intercambio”).

      2.- La prestación del comerciante se concreta en poner a disposición del consumidor o usuario de aprovechamiento por turno el “sistema” que permita el intercambio. Es importante destacar la palabra “sistema” que se contiene en dicha definición legal de esta clase contratos, por lo que de concreción de la obligación de la red de intercambio supone. “Es decir que la obligación del comerciante es establecer y posibilitar el uso del “sistema” o “medio” para lograr el intercambio”

            3.-  La contraprestación que ha de percibir el comerciante –la red de intercambio- es el pago del precio acordado.

MARBELLA RESORT TURISTICO

¿Cuál es por tanto la obligación de la red de intercambio?

En la clásica dicotomía de las obligaciones que ya esbozaba el antiguo derecho romano y que impregna el derecho europeo se diferencian dos clases de obligaciones:

        –Obligación de resultado o determinada en la que el comerciante se obliga a producir un resultado a favor de su contraparte (consumidor o usuario en este caso). Por ello si el resultado no se produce, el comerciante incumple su obligación frente al consumidor. Ejemplo clásico de esta clase es la obligación de entregar un bien determinado.

     –Obligación de medios o actividad en la que el comerciante se obliga a poner los medios o a realizar la actividad necesaria para que el consumidor obtenga el resultado. En este caso el ejemplo clásico no sería la entrega de un bien sino la prestación de un servicio

Siendo el intercambio una “prestación de servicios”, no la entrega de una cosa “determinada o determinable”, la red gestora del sistema no tiene una obligación de resultado, deseado por el consumidor, sino que su obligación es de medios y actividad que en conjunto permita al cliente poder obtener un resultado.

Por ello la obligación de la red de intercambio se cumple con el establecimiento y mantenimiento del “sistema de intercambio”, que entre otras cosas le obliga también a clasificar los derechos de ocupación que se ceden por sus titulares para su intercambio en el sistema con criterios de equivalencia, lo que requiere una actividad empresarial muy compleja porque se ha de referir en común a miles de alojamientos, en temporadas equivalentes de uso más o menos solicitadas (por clima, por fiestas, por eventos culturales, deportivos, etc.).

A modo enunciativo estos medios y actividad (sistema), conlleva:

-Afiliar complejos turísticos, lo que significa que debe cerciorarse de su legalidad y operatividad.

            -Clasificar los diferentes complejos turísticos según parámetros de calidad, servicios, instalaciones, accesibilidad, etc., ya que no es bastante la calificación legal de un país (por estrellas de hotel, llaves de apartamentos, etc.), ya que en cada país existen, aun teniendo nombre común de clasificación, criterios diferentes para su otorgamiento.

            -Clasificación por temporadas, como antes se indica.

            -Mantenimiento del “sistema informático”, con programas de alta complejidad y en continua actualización.

            -Atención a los clientes en múltiples lenguas y con efecto en prácticamente todos los países del mundo.

            No se vea el ello algo tan simple como un “negocio redondo” que no garantiza un resultado, porque el resultado que debe satisfacer la red de intercambio es la operatividad del sistema que debe ofrecer la posibilidad de que los derechos de ocupación cedidos al sistema de intercambio por cientos de miles de personas que no se conocen ni nunca se conocerán entre sí, puedan ser intercambiados.

         Por todo ello si la red de intercambio presta el servicio, la actividad y el medio para obtener el resultado, el consumidor puede obtenerlo con la utilización del sistema según sus reglas y normas, fundamentalmente la reserva del alojamiento deseado que cumpla los parámetros de equivalencia del propio derecho cedido temporalmente por aquél al sistema para que a su vez este pueda ser utilizado por otro consumidor.

     Ciertamente la concreción del intercambio se sujeta al principio turístico conocido por “sujeto a disponibilidad”, que no es un concepto jurídico indeterminado, sino que se refiere a que reservar en una temporada y lugar concreto se conseguirá habitualmente si se realiza con tiempo suficiente y teniendo en cuenta que existe una competencia –como bien sabe al afiliado al sistema- con otros afiliados. Será muy difícil que si un afiliado quiere reservar el día 15 de julio un alojamiento en España para ser utilizado el día 15 de agosto siguiente lo consiga. –

Pero en todo caso y siempre además, por el propio volumen del sistema que incluye anualmente miles y miles de derechos que pueden ser intercambiados, nunca quedará el afiliado sin la posibilidad de elección alternativa de cientos de otros alojamientos. – “Sujeto a disponibilidad”, se refiere a uno o varios alojamientos pretendidos, pero siempre queda disponibilidad de cientos de otros derechos que se pueden reservar y utilizar.

 Es decir, que siendo la obligación exigible a la red de intercambio la operatividad del “medio” o “sistema” <<conforme dispone la definición del derecho de intercambio contenida en la Directiva 2088/122/CE, Ley española 4/2012 de 6 de julio y las equivalentes de los demás países de la UE>> si podemos decir que el resultado, aun no siendo obligatorio para aquel si se puede obtener siempre conforme al derecho español, como si se tratase de obligaciones “variables” o “alternativas (art. 1131 y concordantes del Código Civil).

         Para terminar y como reza el párrafo transcrito que se contiene en el contrato de intercambio a que se refiere la Sentencia  179/2014 del Juzgado de 1ª. Instancia nº 1 de Palma de Mallorca: “el intercambio se posibilita a través de un programa  de reservas, sometido a sus propias normas y que depende del número de  conjuntos afiliados (que varían de año en año), de los socios titulares de ese conjunto que sólo voluntariamente ceden ese derecho temporalmente y de la competencia de reservas entre ellos (en base a las normas del programa). El cometido a que viene obligada la entidad gestora de esta red- fundamentalmente informática- es la de tener operativo, con todos los medios materiales y humanos necesarios el sistema informático que posibilite el intercambio, pero que no asegura el resultado deseado. En otras palabras (dice el Juez) “no se garantiza el intercambio”. 

Esta última apostilla del Juzgador resulta tanto más importante cuando acogiendo las pretensiones de la red demandada, acepta que la garantía de confirmación de intercambio requerido no es parte del objeto del contrato u obligación del prestador de ese servicio.

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Francisco J. Lizarza

Abogado

Marbella a 6 de febrero de 2017

 

TAXATION OF DWELLING RENTALS AND CESSIONS

MANSION

 It is very difficult to summarise the content of an article in its title, particularly where it refers to various situations and various rights, whether from a common or general point of view or from a legal point of view.

Therefore, when in this article we say “dwelling”, this must be interpreted in a very general sense as meaning an “enclosed, covered place which has been built =building= to be inhabited by persons”. And when we say rental of dwellings, it very generally means handing over the right to use or enjoy (occupation) that building to another person, from whom a consideration will be received. And all this applies whether building refers to what we call a flat, apartment, villa, terraced house, room, studio, etc., and whether it is located in a residential building, an apartment-hotel building, a hotel or a combination thereof.

But what matters for the purposes of this article, namely to determine the taxes payable by the owner on the rent received for the cession of such a habitable building, is the kind of “dwelling” involved or, rather, the intended use of that dwelling or how it is going to be used by its occupier, whether by virtue of an agreement between the parties or because it must be legally used for a specific purpose and none other.

SUMMARY

I.- RENTAL OF DWELLINGS (HABITUAL RESIDENCE).

From a legal point of view, where the intended use of dwelling is to be ceded by a person for a price or a rent to another person, who will occupy it, normally with their family, for the essential purpose of fulfilling the need to have living accommodation, this will be what Spanish Law simply (basically) defines as the “rental of a dwelling”.

II.- SEASONAL RENTAL OF DWELLINGS.

Where the dwelling (as a building) is ceded by a person to another person to fulfil the latter’s need to live in it not permanently but during a specific season, be it the summer season, the ski season, a school year during which a person will be attending college or a period during which a person has to move to certain place to do a temporary job, this is legally classified as a “rental for use other than as habitual dwelling-residence”.

III.- RENTAL OF TOURIST ACCOMMODATION UNITS.

In this case, whether the dwelling is a villa, a room, a studio, etc., which is part of a building or group of buildings located on land classified as (i) touristic land, or (ii) residential land whose use for tourism-related purposes is permitted, it is legally mandatory for the property to be used for tourism-related purposes, which entails an obligation to comply with two kinds of requirements, i.e. those relating to the unit itself and those relating to the “standard services of the tourism industry”.

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IV.- RENTAL OF RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS FOR TOURISM-RELATED PURPOSES.

This relates to dwellings located on “residential land” (not, therefore, on land earmarked for tourism-related purposes) which are used all year round or during specific periods as tourist accommodation units or for purposes relating thereto.

Consequently, this type of dwelling has to be operated as a tourist accommodation unit and is therefore required to include as an important element, in addition to the cession of the right to occupy the unit, the provision of other “standard services of the tourism industry”, even if these are minimum.

SUMMARY OF THE MAIN TAX OBLIGATIONS OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NOT RESIDENT IN SPAIN BUT ARE RESIDENT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) AND, IN SOME CASES, IN THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA (EEA), IN RESPECT OF THE RENTS OBTAINED FROM THE RENTAL OR CESSION OF DWELLINGS OR UNITS TO THIRD PARTIES ACCORDING TO THEIR KIND OR INTENDED USE

I.- RENTAL OF DWELLINGS (HABITUAL RESIDENCE).

1.- Each quarter of the calendar year during which such dwellings are or remain rented out, the non-resident individual lessor will have to file a tax return with the State Treasury in respect of the rents thereby obtained.

In the case of taxpayers residing in the EU or in EEA countries with which an effective exchange of information is in place, certain expenses may be deductible against the rental income (with certain limitations), such as loan interest, insurance, preservation and repair costs, I.B.I. -local rates-, agents’ commissions, legal expenses, amortisation of the building, etc.

The tax rate in this case would be 19% on the gain thus calculated for residents of the EU, Iceland and Norway, and 24% for the remaining taxpayers.

On the other hand, a small tax known as Actos Jurídicos Documentados (Documented Legal Acts -Stamp Duty-) is also payable, and its amount will depend on the length of the lease and on the rent agreed.

2.- If the dwelling is only used by the non-resident owner or is available to them all rear round, then the non-resident owner will have to pay tax on the “deemed income”, namely a tax which is not payable on any actual income but on an estimated, supposedly received income.

3.- Deposit on the Lease: This is not a tax, but there is a legal obligation for the lessor to demand from the tenant an amount equivalent to one month’s agreed rent as security for any damage which may be caused by the tenant. Such a deposit will have to be fully lodged by the lessor, within one month of the lease contract being entered into, with the Agencia de Vivienda y Rehabilitación (Housing and Rehabilitation Agency) of, in this case, the Junta de Andalucía, commonly known as AVRA for its initials. On termination of the lease, AVRA will refund the full deposit, without interest, to the lessor, and the latter shall in turn refund it to the tenant unless any damage needing to be repaired has been caused to the dwelling (but not because of failure to pay any rents).

If the lessor fails to lodge this deposit, then the lessor themselves -not the tenant- will be liable to pay surcharges ranging from 5% to 20% depending on the delay in paying the deposit after the above legal period has passed. If the deposit fails to be lodged and AVRA makes an inspection, penalties ranging from 50% to 150% of that amount can be imposed.

Important:   As these rentals are meant to fulfil a permanent need of the tenant and the tenant’s family, the tenant will be obligated to respect the full period agreed on in the contract and to pay the rent for the whole period of the lease. Even if a dwelling of this nature has been rented out for a shorter period, the tenant may in their sole discretion extend the contract for up to three years -obviously provided that they pay the agreed rent- regardless of whether the lessor wishes to extend the contract for such a period or not.

II.- SEASONAL RENTAL OF DWELLINGS.

The taxes and tax obligations are fundamentally the same in the case of a dwelling for habitual use-residence and in the case of a seasonal rental of a dwelling, whether the latter is entered into for several months, for the whole year or for a longer period.

Therefore, the income actually obtained will be taxed during the rental period as described in paragraph 1 and the deemed income will be taxed in proportion to the period not being rented out as described in paragraph 2, both of SECTION I above.

DEPOSIT ON THE LEASE:

The amount of the Deposit in this case is not one month’s but two months’ rent, which in many cases is preposterous, disproportionate and unfair.

A seasonal lease can certainly last several months or over one year, but it is normally taken for a short period, often 15 to 20 days, one or two months, etc.

However, it will still be necessary in that case to lodge with the AVRA a deposit amounting to two months’ rent, to the point that the deposit will sometimes have to be refunded by reason of expiry of the lease before the legal period to lodge the deposit has expired.

Also payable in this case is the ‘Stamp Duty’ which, as mentioned, is normally a small amount, although it depends on the duration of the contract and on the rent agreed.

Important: The duration of the lease with this kind of rental is that agreed on by the parties, and neither party may demand an extension thereof.

III.- RENTAL OF TOURIST ACCOMMODATION UNITS.

Tourist accommodation establishments are those which offer accommodation to persons wishing to stay at them, normally for a certain number of days but also during longer periods. While their name and category vary slightly, they are normally classified in Spain as hotels, apartment-hotels, holiday apartment resorts, hostels, etc.

But the essential feature of tourist accommodation establishments is that, whatever the occupation period, the client is entitled to receive the “accommodation” service as such jointly with the services inherent in the tourism industry.

This introduction is intended to be of assistance in understanding the taxation of accommodation units which are individually owned by a person. An establishment -e.g. a hotel building with multiple accommodation units (apartments, villas, rooms)- may constitute one only property as a whole, but it may also be divided into various units by executing a Deed known as ‘Horizontal Division’ so that each resulting unit becomes an “independent” property from a legal point of view and, therefore, is registered as an independent property.

This is what has come to be known commercially as a “condo-hotel”, where a person can acquire ownership of a hotel room, an apartment of the apartment-hotel or a villa or a building such as a bungalow, which are accommodation units of the hotel, the apartment-hotel, the holiday apartment resort, etc. That is, from a legal point of view these units are not “dwellings” but tourist accommodation units.

The owner can obtain a rent from their accommodation unit in such tourist establishments, although they may under no circumstance do so directly by renting out or otherwise ceding the apartment to a third party, nor are they entitled, as owner, to simply occupy the unit.

A person who buys an accommodation unit which is part of a tourist establishment is not really a “consumer” but an “investor or business operator”.

What, then, can the owner of such an accommodation unit do?

The only thing they can do according to Law is to cede the unit to the hotel’s sole operating company, and the latter will pay the owner an agreed rent which will then de subject to tax on the profit thereby made in the form explained below.

When we say that the “accommodation unit” has to be fully ceded for each and every day of the year to the operating company, we say it because, according to Spanish Law, only one company is entitled to provide services to and operate the hotel or any other kind of tourist establishment.

This means that the sole operating company is the only company which can handle reservations for the units, accept guests, provide services to the latter and charge them a price for doing all this.

We must therefore reiterate that the owner of the accommodation unit may not admit anybody to occupy the unit and neither they nor their family may occupy the unit other than as guests who reserve, make a contract and pay the price charged for the occupation of that same unit. To give a graphic explanation: they will have to register as hotel guests, take the keys from the hotel receptionist and pay the unit price.

The consideration received by the owner of the unit is the rent they must receive from the sole operating company of the resort.

But the reader will have probably seen offers to purchase one of these units saying that they can “occupy their own unit for two or three months without paying anything and the operating company will pay them the agreed rent for the rest of the year”.

However, this not true from a legal or a taxation point of view, because the owner may occupy the unit as a guest for the maximum period allowed by Law “where the guest is also the owner” (not more than two months in the case of Andalucía) and they will also have to pay a rent, event it this is done by way of an offset payment.

Having made this long but necessary introduction, we must now go back to the purpose of this article, namely to know the taxes to be paid initially by a person who buys an “accommodation unit” and the taxes they will have to pay for using it personally during a certain period and, also, for obtaining a rent from the operating company in charge of marketing the unit.

1.- Taxes inherent in acquiring ownership of the “tourist accommodation unit”.

1.1.- IVA (VAT) is applicable in all of Spain except the Canary Islands, where this is replaced by a very similar tax albeit with much lower taxation rates.

The 21% I.V.A. payable on the selling price must be passed on by the seller of a tourist accommodation unit to the purchaser.

It is true, on the other hand, that as the purchaser does not purchase the unit for their personal use, they can apply for a refund of this I.V.A. the following year.

1.2.- Impuesto de Actos Jurídicos Documentados (Stamp Duty), the applicable rate of which depends on the part of Spain where the property is located and normally ranges from 0.75% to 2% (1.5% in Andalucía).

2.- Taxes inherent in the rental or other legal form of cession of the unit to the “sole operating company” against a consideration or, where applicable, to be offset in subsequent years.

2.1.- As the owner of the tourist accommodation unit cedes the unit, by virtue of a legal obligation, to the sole operator for the whole year, they must receive the rent agreed on with the operating company.

Such a rent received by a non-resident is subject to Income Tax at the rate of 19% in the case of taxpayers with residence in the European Union, Norway and Iceland and 24% for the remaining taxpayers. This tax must be filed and paid quarterly.

Normally, the payer of tax on the yield -operator- must make a withholding on account of the Non-Residents Income Tax (19% for residents on the EU and the EEA and 24% for the rest).

2.2.- On the other hand, the owner-lesser must pass on to the operating company I.V.A. at the general rate (21%) and they must file a VAT tax return -also quarterly-.

3.- Fiscal implications of occupation or use of the unit by its owner.

We mentioned earlier that the owner is not entitled to occupy the unit due to their holding title to the property as the owner thereof, as they have previously rented out or ceded the unit for “the whole year” to the operating company (article 42.2.2 LTA – Tourism Act of Andalucía -).

It is true, however, that the owner may occupy and use the unit during “not more than two months” (in the region of Andalucía, as per article 42.3.a LTA) as a guest, which entails an obligation on their part to pay the price of their stay, as any other guest, including in this case the obligation to add 10% I.V.A. as would be the case with any other guest. This I.V.A. is unrecoverable given that the owner is not in this case performing a professional or trading activity but merely acting as a consumer or user (guest).

But “payment” or “income” must not be confused with a transfer of money in one or other direction. It is possible, and very often the case, that the operating company which must pay an annual rent and I.V.A. to the owner for the cession of the unit during the whole year will only transfer to the owner the amount of the rent plus I.V.A. thereon albeit withholding the sum payable by the owner-guest for the time they have personally used the unit by way of an offset payment.

What happens if the tourist accommodation unit (often an apartment, bungalow or small villa) is used or occupied by, and available to, the owner of the unit during the whole year?

In this case, both the owner of the unit and the hotel operating company will be breaching very important rules relating to town planning, tourism and taxation. By way of an example:

1.- The operator of the tourist accommodation establishment may receive severe economic sanctions and the whole establishment may even be closed down.

2.- If no tax is paid on the cession -necessarily granted for valuable consideration- of the unit by the owner to the operating company and, inversely, if the hotel cedes a period of time (even on a de facto basis) for the owner to use gratuitously where a price should have been paid, both the operating company and the owner will be thereby failing to comply with their fiscal obligations.

3.- Finally, if the owner of the tourist accommodation unit lives in the unit or the unit remains available to the owner, it may well be considered that their unit has been transformed into a personal residence, which is a very serious breach of town planning regulations which may even result in the closure of the building. This is of the utmost importance, and the ‘Autonomous Communities’ (Regions) of Spain are going to great lengths in establishing legal regulations to crack down on the de facto conversion of tourist accommodation units into “residential homes”.

 IV.- RENTAL OF RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS FOR TOURISM-RELATED PURPOSES.

HIPOTECA In another article published in this same blog http://wp.me/p2Zl8w-nI , we commented on the new regulations affecting private dwellings which, either permanently or during certain periods of the year only, were occupied by third parties against payment of a price and including the provision of some tourism-related services such as daily cleaning, meals, etc.

Such use of these dwellings (apartments, villas, etc.) located on residential land is regarded as a tourist services operation by reason of their including such ancillary services and, therefore, they must be registered with the Tourism Registry.

The operation of these dwellings for tourism-related purposes is certainly quite similar to the “seasonal rental” described in Section II above.

The taxation of the -actual or deemed- rents thereby obtained is as follows:

1.- If the property is operated all year round for tourism-related purposes, i.e. as tourist accommodation, then Income Tax will be payable by individuals residing in the EU, Norway and Iceland at the rate of 19% on the profit thereby obtained. The general rate for the remaining taxpayers will be 24%.

As this is a tourist accommodation activity, the owner must charge I.V.A. to the user at the reduced 10% rate which applies to the Tourism Industry.

In both cases, quarterly tax returns need to be filed in respect of these taxes.

2.- If the dwelling is only operated for tourism-related purposes during part of the year, the taxation (Income Tax on actual rent and I.V.A.) will be the same as that described in 1 above in proportion to the period of time during which the property has been used for such purpose.

As regards the periods during which the dwelling is not being operated, namely when it is being used by its owner, the only tax to be paid will be the tax we have referred to as “deemed income tax” (See Sections 1 and 2).

The above list of taxes is obviously a generalisation and will need to be specifically determined in each particular case.

This is an opinion article and is therefore subject to any better-founded opinion on the matter.

Francisco J. Lizarza – Lawyer

Rocio Lizarza – MBA

Changes to the EU VAT Implementing Regulations

ICONO PEQUEÑA BRITANICAIn October, the European Commission issued explanatory notes on EU VAT place of supply rules on services connected with immovable property. These notes, prepared by the Directorate Gen for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission, are intended to assist with the proper application / interpretation of changes to the EU VAT Implementing Regulations 2011 (282/2011/EU) that become effective throughout the EU on January 1st 2017.

Members should be aware that Article 47 of the EU VAT Directive says that services connected with immovable property should be subject to VAT in the country in which the property is located. The Implementing Regulations now confirm that services allowing a customer to exchange to a timeshare resort are within the scope of Article 47 and, therefore, subject to VAT in the country in which the accommodation is located.

The Implementing Regulations have direct effect in all EU member states, therefore member state Governments don’t have to make changes to their local VAT rules in order to accommodate this change.

Lizarza Abogados 

Abril 2016

SEASONAL RENTALS VS. TOURIST DWELLINGS

ANDALUCIA

SEASONAL RENTAL OF DWELLINGS
VS.
OPERATION OF DWELLINGS FOR TOURISM PURPOSES

The legal rules governing tourism in Spain fall within the competence of the Administration of the ‘Autonomous Communities’ or Regions of Spain as opposed to that of the central State Government, which means that different regulations exist in each such Region.

Following suit with other Regions, Andalucía has recently published a Decree (28/2016 of 2 February) on dwellings to be used for tourism purposes.

This and similar legal rules of other Regions are intended as a reaction to what was formerly known as “illegal holiday apartments”, and they have become very important given the growth experienced by the commercialisation of private homes for use by tourists during very short periods. Such an unstoppable growth is due to the straightforwardness and immediateness of the electronic means which are now used for the marketing of these homes. Thus, what the owners of dwellings do is that they cede their private homes for very short periods (sometimes a few days) to companies which, through their own website, channel the agreement between the owner and the tourist, who normally don’t know each other or only meet when the tourist arrives on a prearranged date to occupy the dwelling. Even payment of the agreed price is also managed through that portal.

The traders who operate resorts of holiday accommodation regard this (as they did the so-called “illegal holiday apartments”) as unfair competition as, while these traders need to maintain an appropriate services structure, staff and facilities, in addition to bearing a considerable tax burden, short-term occupation of private homes by tourists, where services which may be considered inappropriate are also offered, do not bear the same taxes or can simply dodge them easily.

But the owners of dwellings have the ancestral, legally-recognised right to rent out their homes, even for short periods.

Therefore, the intention behind these rules is to establish a distinction between a short-term rental of a dwelling and the cession of a “dwelling” (whatever its size) as if it were a holiday accommodation unit.

This Decree is therefore intended -more or less successfully- to differentiate between these two legal activities.

We must therefore stress the elements which identify and differentiate each type of right, although it must first be noted that all these rights relate to “viviendas” (dwellings) understood as the first definition contained in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language, i.e.:

An enclosed and covered place built to be inhabited by persons”.

Therefore, when we commonly talk about a dwelling, we refer to its physical meaning, i.e. a building constructed to be inhabited by persons, but when we do so in the legal context of the Decree mentioned in this article, we do so to differentiate between the different ways of occupying and using that building, be it a dwelling intended to be used mainly and permanently as living accommodation or to be enjoyed during a short period or used as what we now regard as “holiday accommodation”.

Articles 1542 and 1543 of the Civil Code provide that a lease can relate to things, works or services, and that, where it relates to things, one of the parties undertakes to grant the other party the right to enjoy or use a ‘specific thing’ during a certain period of time. And, obviously, the ‘thing’ can be a dwelling, whatever its size and characteristics (villa, apartment, studio, mansion, etc).

For the purposes of the current Urban Lease Act (L.A.U. for its Spanish initials), leases on a dwellings relate to those intended to be used as a “place of habitual residence” and to the “seasonal rental of dwellings”. Namely, it is their intended use that characterises them.

But where the cession of a building/dwelling has a different intended use, such as the provision of accommodation services, this is no longer a lease but an accommodation services contract.

For this reason, certain clarifications should now be made concerning the elements of each one of these contractual rights:

I.- CONTRACT OF OCCUPATION BY WAY OF A LEASE FOR HABITUAL RESIDENCE PURPOSES.

MANSION

Given the social relevance of the primary need to fulfil the right to living accommodation for persons and families, this has been regulated in Spain with a very interventionist role of the State, so that the rules and conditions governing the cession of use of a dwelling have to a large degree been regulated very strictly and in great detail by special laws, to such an extent that, in the tenant’s sole discretion and enforceable on the lessor, the lease can continue for up to three years even if the contract was entered into for a shorter period. Such lease contracts where the intended use is not a seasonal rental are not the subject of this analysis.

II.- CONTRACTS RELATING TO THE SEASONAL OCCUPATION OF DWELLINGS.

HIPOTECA       In addition to the lease contract mentioned in the last preceding section, the current Urban Lease act (LAU) contemplates and regulates those contracts relating to the rental of urban property which are entered into on a seasonal basis, be it the summer or otherwise.

That is, occupation of the dwelling is granted for a “specific season” such as the summer season or, rather, the summer holidays or any other purpose which does not require a long-term stay.

III.- CONTRACT FOR THE OCCUPATION OF DWELLINGS FOR TOURISM PURPOSES OR AS TOURIST ACCOMMODATION SERVICES.

 This is the kind of contract referred to in, and governed by, Tourism Laws (particularly, in this case, the aforementioned Decree of the Junta de Andalucía).

Therefore, the aforementioned lease contract for habitual residence aside, the purpose of this analysis is to be able to tell an ORDINARY SEASONAL LEASE (where a private individual rents out their dwelling to a person –tourist or otherwise– during, for example, the summer season) from THE CESSION OF A DWELLING FOR IT TO BE OCCUPIED AS “HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION”.

And, to do so, there is a preliminary point to stress, as it is often that contracts, rights or business deals are called something they actually are not in an attempt to dodge the regulations applicable to that specific legal transaction, but this is not admissible from a legal point of view because contracts and rights are what they are, not what they are called; or, as Spanish Case Law has determined:

Contracts have the legal nature which arises out of their binding content, regardless of what the parties thereto may choose to call them”.

Therefore, as far as this analysis is concerned, calling what in legal terms is a right to occupy a holiday accommodation unit a “seasonal lease” (or vice versa) does not mean that we can avoid the rules which in fact apply to each kind of right according to its own legal nature.

For the sake of -an almost impossible- brevity, we need to define or at least delimit when the owner of a “dwelling” located on residential land may only operate their dwelling as holiday accommodation and has to comply with the legal requirements to do so. Or, inversely, when they may not cede it as an ordinary seasonal lease.

This will be mandatorily regarded as the operation for tourism-related purposes of a dwelling located on residential land where some or all of the following circumstances occur:

  • The dwelling is marketed or promoted through holiday services channels where the latter is understood to mean travel agencies, companies providing holiday services or acting as an intermediary in respect thereof and any channels including the possibility of booking accommodation.

It is very important to highlight these provisions of the Decree as therein lies the, in my opinion, main motive for approving this legal rule, as it further addresses what triggered the old claim of “legal” holiday resort operators who felt that short-term occupation by tourists of residential homes constituted unfair completion and, also, the public Administration’s concerns about certain “perils” in an activity which had not been specifically regulated, on the one hand, and even the possibility of tax evasion on the other.

And it is the promotional and commercial use of the Internet to achieve deals in respect of such dwellings through the so-called “holiday services channels” that constitutes this triggering factor.

Just type the words “rental of apartment by days” or something similar into any Internet search engine. You will see the amount of pages offering services for the owner of a dwelling to cede the occupation thereof through that website. We know that the use of such websites is often monitored by the “competent tourism administration” in the assumption that this is a holiday services channel and, therefore, the user’s dwellings are being marketed through this channel, thus engaging in a clandestine operation of tourist accommodation deserving of large fines.

So much so that a previous draft of Andalucía’s Decree on dwellings for tourist use dated in 2014 pointed out, as does the current Decree now in force, that the growth of this activity was due, among other things, to:

The appearance of new forms of marketing which are direct and have no intermediaries, particularly numerous Internet portals…”, to such an extent that said previous draft Decree from 2014 took the tourism-related purpose for granted where the service is offered “through any advertising medium, inclusive of the Internet or any other new technology…”.

Does this mean that any person offering the rental of their dwelling for a longer or a shorter period directly or through an Internet portal, even if they do so regularly, is engaging in a tourist accommodation activity, or that the dwelling has thereby become what the new tourist rule we are discussing calls a residential home for tourism purposes?

I honestly believe it does not.- It is not the fact of being marketed through the Internet that defines a tourist accommodation activity, but the fact that the property is actually used as tourist accommodation.

Tourist accommodation is fundamentally defined or characterised by the union of two essential elements; the “physical accommodation itself” and the “ancillary services of the tourism industry” or, as set forth in article 40.2 of Andalucía’s Tourism Act: “Any establishment to be used for the provision of tourist accommodation services shall comply with the requirements concerning facilities, furniture, services and, where applicable, those applicable according to the type, category, form or specialty to which they relate”.

Consequently, properties occupied without any added services typical of the tourism industry being provided, few as they may be in this case, may not be regarded as tourist accommodation.

So we should now look at the similarities and differences between one kind of right and the other.

Conflict has certainly arisen in the past and will continue to arise, albeit more rarely now, when somebody tries to avoid complying with this new regulation on dwellings located on residential land but including tourist accommodation services and when this is disguised behind an allegedly lawful “seasonal lease”.

We are back to what I mentioned above: contractual obligations are determined by their own nature, not by what we choose to call them. If the right being contracted for is one to occupy a tourist accommodation unit (i.e. a building which is legally suitable to such end and where the ancillary services typical of the tourism accommodation industry are provided), then the contract will not constitute a seasonal lease and, if the intention is to make it appear as such, this will be done in breach of the obligations inherent in the kind of contract now analysed and the breaching party may be subject to severe administrative sanctions.

This certainly does not mean that those who market their seasonal lease, whether directly or through specialised traders (such as estate agents or the like), cannot do so through the Internet or other media, as this electronic medium is not exclusively reserved for lodging activities.

Despite the efforts that went into the legal rules, there can always be a point of conflict between these two types of contracts, hence the Decree under study -article 3, “Definition”-, rather than define the nature of accommodation in a dwelling for tourism purposes clearly, exactly and accurately, simply provides a non-exhaustive list of the characteristics by which it is presumably delimited.

OBJECTIVE DELIMITATION OF “DWELLINGS FOR TOURIST USE”

MANSION

The delimiting (defining) characteristics from a legal point of view of DWELLINGS FOR TOURIST USE -which as such must be registered with Andalucía’s Tourism Registry- are, according to the rule herein discussed, as follows:

  • These dwellings must be located on “residential” land. While excluding those located on “touristic land” may appear to make no sense, it does, as in that case they are already obligated to be used for tourism-related purposes as defined in other rules.
• It must be presumed (and can therefore be otherwise proved) that the following dwellings are used for tourism-related purposes:
* Those offered for a certain price on a habitual basis and for tourism-related purposes.
* Those marketed or promoted through holiday services channels.

         * On the other hand, the following dwellings shall be regarded as not for                 tourism-related purposes:
• Those ceded gratuitously or without any economic consideration.
• Those hired for more than two months.
• Those operated under other kinds of holiday accommodation activity.
• Where the deal relates to a set of three or more dwellings in the same building or group of buildings, adjacent or otherwise, in which case the regulations governing holiday apartments will be applicable.

Essential requirements to operate your dwelling as a “TOURIST RESIDENTIAL” dwelling.

1.– Located on residential land.
2.- Ceded for a certain price or an economic consideration.
3.- Maximum cession time not in excess of two months.
4.- Operation by the same owner relates to one or two dwellings at most in the same building or group of buildings, adjacent or otherwise.
5.- Each dwelling to be rented out for use by no more than the authorised number of occupiers according to its type.

6.- REGISTRATION WITH ANDALUCÍA’S TOURISM REGISTRY:
The process starts by filing a Statement of Compliance (Declaración Responsable) with the Administration in which the owner states that they are compliant with the legal requirements to carry out this activity, particularly:
   6.1.– Contact details and address for notification purposes of the owner of the property.
  6.2.- Identity of the person “operating” the dwelling and title by which they do so if they are not the owner.
  6.3.– Registration with Andalucía’s Tourism Registry; and
  6.4.– Licence or notice of the activity to the Town Council.

7.– MAXIMUM OCCUPATION OF THE DWELLINGS:
 7.1.– If The dwelling is ceded in its entirety, the number of occupiers must not exceed that reflected in the municipal Habitability (First Occupation) Licence or, in any event, fifteen occupiers altogether and four per bedroom.
 7.2.- If the dwelling is ceded by bedroom, the owner must live in it and the number of occupiers may not be more than 6 altogether or more than four per bedroom.

8.– REQUIREMENTS AND COMMON SERVICES:
  8.1.- The dwelling must be “legal”, which in principle means that it must have obtained the municipal Habitability (1st Occupation) Licence and must be compliant with the technical and quality specifications demanded for such dwellings.
8.2.- The rooms must have direct ventilation to the outside or patios and some system to protect them against the glare or exterior lighting.
  8.3.– It must be sufficiently furnished and equipped with the necessary domestic appliances.
8.4.- It must have a heating system if it is occupied between the months of October to April inclusive, and a cooling system if it is occupied between May and September inclusive.
  8.5.– First aid kit.
  8.6.– Tourist information must be available (leisure areas, cafes, restaurants, etc.).
  8.7.- There must be claims and complaints forms in it to be made available to the tourism authorities.
  8.8.– A visible “tourist dwelling” sign.
8.9.– It must be cleaned at least before the check-in and after the check-out of guests.
  8.10.- Linens and furnishings, etc.
8.11.– Owner’s telephone number in case there is a problem.
  8.12.– Information and instructions of use of electrical appliances and machines.
8.13.– Information concerning use of the facilities, whether pets are allowed in the house, smoking rules, etc.

Obviously, this article does not contain full, specific details but only general information.

9.- TAXES.
The owner of these dwellings becomes the operator thereof and must observe the applicable legal rules, as it receives a rent and has to pay for utilities and services and will therefore make a profit or incur a loss, so they must file tax returns, quarterly tax statements, withholdings, etc. This activity is also liable for V.A.T. at a reduced rate of 10%, with the formal obligations this entails.

OBJECTIVE DELIMITATION OF SEASONAL LEASE (SUMMER OR ANY OTHER SEASON).

renuncia 2

Although seasonal lease contracts have been traditionally entered into between the owner direct and another person to whom the owner has been in any way introduced, or through a estate agency, this does not mean that the owner themselves or an intermediary -particularly a real estate agent- cannot undertake the job of promoting and marketing the seasonal lease contract. That is, Internet marketing does not necessarily mean “marketing through holiday services channels”.

As mentioned at the beginning, the differentiating line between marketing a building-dwelling by entering into a “seasonal lease contract” and doing it in respect of the same building-dwelling by entering into the “accommodation contract” to which the regulations herein discussed refer are not clear, as we do not have an accurate definition of each contract. And it is an inaccurate delimitation as aforesaid because both buildings are dwellings which are to be occupied by persons, both are located on residential land and the duration of the agreement is in both cases more or less short, or at least it is in many cases.

Consequently, in trying to delimit the meaning of a seasonal lease as opposed to the meaning of a cession of a dwelling by an accommodation contract, rather than using a legal definition of each right we will have to look at the integral elements -or, in this case, particularly the excluding elements – of one kind of contractual right or the other.

Thus, without being exhaustive, a contract will relate to a seasonal lease where the duration of the contract is in excess of two months (although leases with a shorter duration do exist) and, at the same time, the ancillary services inherent in the accommodation, etc. are not provided.

On the other hand, a contract relating to tourist accommodation in a residential dwelling fundamentally requires the provision of the services typical of the tourist accommodation industry, even if these are restricted to those mentioned in the Decree about which we are speaking. If these services fail to be provided, then the contract is a seasonal lease.

We mentioned at the beginning that Andalucía’s Tourism Administration is putting particular focus on monitoring holiday services channels on the Internet, to such an extent that inspections and sanctions have been frequent in respect of accommodation complexes with several units; but now, after the coming into force of this Decree, there is no doubt that a revision will take place, on what is regarded as holiday services channels, of singular dwellings where tourists are being lodged without meeting the requirements of this law, and the relevant sanctions will obviously be imposed on those who contravene it.

Having said the above as regards the requirements of a seasonal lease as opposed to contracts relating to accommodation in a residential home, we have to say that the “season” does not have a specific temporal limitation, i.e. it does not have a minimum or a maximum duration. A season rather refers to the leaseholder’s need, or mere suitability, to occupy the dwelling “temporarily”, without the ancillary services of the tourism industry on the one hand, and without intending to fulfil the primordial and primary need of persons and their families for living accommodation, as in that case the contract would be an ordinary contract of habitual residence.

Summer is typically the season to which a seasonal lease relates, but it can be any other, such as a period of time during which a person needs to do a temporary job (e.g. six months, one year, etc.).

Therefore, a season of less than two months can exist (without this entailing that the contract is for lodging) or it can be longer than 11 months (without it being a lease for habitual residence).

And we highlight these two time limits -less than two months and more than eleven months – because it has been traditionally interpreted that, by stipulating one or the other, the mandatory rules of a specific contract can be circumvented at will. Thus, “eleven-month” seasonal lease contracts have for decades been offered by lessors in the belief that they could thereby exclude an “ordinary” lease for habitual residence and its mandatory -for the lessor- extensions, which used to be indefinite, then became mandatory up to five years and currently up to three years, depending on the date of execution of the contract. However, those who tried (and still try without being aware of the consequences) to simulate a seasonal contract by merely specifying its duration as eleven non-extendable months, found that the courts had many years ago ruled that, despite its name and appearance, such a contract actually related to an ordinary lease for habitual residence purposes, with an indefinite extension until the decease of the lessor, and even until the decease of the lessor’s spouse and children in many cases.

Therefore, whether a short-term or a long-term seasonal lease is chosen, a reason to occupy the dwelling temporarily has to exist.

It must be stressed, therefore, that a seasonal lease contract has to refer to a “building-dwelling” which may or may not be furnished, although logic dictates that it needs to be furnished in the case of a short-term seasonal lease, and there is also an important security requirement for the leaseholder to pay to the lessor an amount equivalent to two months’ rent as security deposit to answer for any possible damage, which the lessor must deposit with the Public Treasury of Andalucía and refund without interest when the lease has finished.

Current State regulations in Spain excluded this requirement in the case of seasonal leases, but competence in this matter now lies with the Autonomous Regions of Spain and, in the case of Andalucía, its current legislation obligates the lessor to demand, under their own responsibility, that the leaseholder pay a two-month security deposit irrespective of whether the seasonal lease is for fifteen days, one month or longer. This really is contradictory in addition to illogical, but this is the legal rule that must be complied with and Andalucía’s tax administration is currently pursuing non-compliance and imposing sanctions on breaching lessors.

Also in this case, as in others, the rents obtained by the lessor are subject to tax payable to the Public Treasury of the State.

CONCLUSIONS:

A cession for valuable consideration in Andalucía (and on similar terms in other autonomous regions of Spain) of buildings-dwellings located on residential land may be formalised by entering into an accommodation contract, a seasonal lease contract or an “ordinary” lease contract (to fulfil persons’ primary and habitual need for living accommodation), but the choice of one or another right or contract is not free, as it has to be made based on complying with the minimum legal requirements applicable in each case.

This is an article of legal opinion

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Francisco J. Lizarza
Lawyer
Lizarza Abogados S.L.P.

VIVIENDAS: ARRIENDO POR TEMPORADA Vr. EXPLOTACIÓN TURÍSTICA

ANDALUCIA
ARRENDAMIENTO DE VIVIENDAS POR TEMPORADAS
VR.
EXPLOTACIÓN DE VIVIENDAS CON FINES TURÍSTICOS

En España las normas legales turísticas son competencia de las Administraciones de las Comunidades o Regiones Autónomas y no de la Administración Central del Estado, lo que hace que existan regulaciones distintas en cada una de ellas.

Siguiendo la estela de lo hecho en otras Comunidades, la de Andalucía ha publicado recientemente el Decreto 28/2016 de 2 de febrero, de las viviendas con fines turísticos.

Esta norma legal y las similares de otras regiones vienen a responder a lo que antiguamente se llamaban “apartamentos turísticos ilegales” y ha cobrado hoy mucha importancia por el gran desarrollo que ha tenido la comercialización de las viviendas privadas dirigida para su uso en muy cortas temporadas por los turistas. Este imparable auge se debe a que esa comercialización se hace por los fáciles e inmediatos canales telemáticos. Así los propietarios de viviendas lo que hacen es ceder por muy cortos periodos (incluso días) sus casas privadas a compañías que a través de su página web canalizan el acuerdo entre el propietario y el turista, que normalmente no llegan a conocerse o que al menos sólo se conocen en el momento en el que el turista llega en un día prefijado a ocupar la vivienda. Incluso ese portal de internet gestiona el pago del precio acordado.

Los empresarios explotadores de complejos de alojamiento turístico han visto en esto (como antes lo vieron en los llamados “apartamentos turísticos ilegales), una competencia desleal, ya que mientras que ellos deben mantener una estructura de servicios, personal laboral e instalaciones adecuadas, además de soportar una carga tributaria importante, las ocupaciones por turistas en cortos periodos de las viviendas particulares, en las que además se ofrecen servicios que se pueden considerar inadecuados, no tienen que pagar los mismos  impuestos que aquellos o que simplemente los pueden eludir con facilidad.

Pero los propietarios de viviendas tienen el derecho ancestral y legalmente reconocido de arrendar, incluso en temporadas cortas, sus viviendas.

Por ello lo que se pretende con estas normas es diferenciar, que es un arrendamiento de una vivienda  por corta temporada y lo que es ceder una “vivienda” (cualquiera que sea su tamaño), como si de un alojamiento turístico se tratara.

Lo que pretende este Decreto, con mayor o menor fortuna, es diferenciar cada una de estas  dos actividades legales.

Por ello debemos recalcar cuales son los elementos identificadores y diferenciadores de ambas clases de derechos, no sin antes advertir que todos estos derechos recaen sobre “viviendas”, entendiendo por tal el primero de los sentidos contenidos en el Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua, es decir como:

“Lugar cerrado y cubierto construido para ser habitado por personas”.

Cuando vulgar o habitualmente hablamos de vivienda, lo hacemos  en su acepción física como edificación construida para ser habitada por las personas, pero cuando lo hacemos en este contexto legal del Decreto que en este artículo se comenta, lo hacemos para diferencia el diferente uso de ocupación y destino de esa edificación, ya sea la vivienda destinada de forma primordial y permanente para vivir, ya  sea para disfrutarla en una corta temporada o para  su uso en lo que hoy entendemos como  “hospedaje turístico”.

Dispone el artículo 1542 y 1543 del Código Civil que el arrendamiento lo puede ser de cosas, de obras o servicios, y que en el arrendamiento de cosas, una de las partes se obliga a dar a la otra el goce o el uso  de una cosa por tiempo determinado y cosa cierta.  Y esa cosa, obviamente puede ser una vivienda, cualquiera que sea su tamaño y características (villas, apartamentos, estudios, mansiones, etc.).

A los efectos de la actual y vigente Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (L.A.U.) el arrendamiento de viviendas se refiere a aquellas destinadas a ”vivienda residencia habitual” y los arrendamientos de “viviendas por temporada” es decir que lo que las categoriza es su destino.

Pero cuando la cesión de la edificación-vivienda tiene otro destino distinto, como es el de hospedaje, ya no estamos en ante un arrendamiento, sino  un contrato de hospedaje.

Por ello conviene en este momento hacer algunas precisiones sobre los elementos de cada uno de estos derechos contractuales:

I.- CONTRATO DE OCUPACION POR TÍTULO DE ARRENDAMIENTO DE VIVIENDA RESIDECIAL HABITUAL.

Resultado de imagen de frees fotos casa tradicional familiar

Dada la transcendencia social de la necesidad primaria de satisfacer el derecho a la vivienda para las personas y familias, estas han sido reguladas en España de forma muy intervencionista por el Estado, de suerte  que en gran medida las normas y condiciones de esa cesión de uso de la vivienda han venido muy estricta y detalladamente reguladas por leyes especiales, hasta el punto que a criterio único y potestad del inquilino y de forma obligatoria para el arrendador,  su duración se puede extender hoy como mínimo a tres años, aunque se hubiere concertado por un periodo menor. Estos contratos de arrendamiento con este fin o destino (es decir distinto al de temporada) no son objeto de este de este comentario.

II.- CONTRATO OCUPACIÓN  DE VIVIENDAS POR TEMPORADA.

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Además del contrato de arrendamiento citado en el apartado anterior la actual y vigente Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (L.A.U.) contempla y regula los llamados arrendamiento de fincas urbanas celebrados por temporadas sea esta de verano o de cualquier otra.

Es decir que se accede a la ocupación de la vivienda por una “temporada determinada”, como la de verano, o mejor dicho para vacaciones de verano o por otro motivo que no requiere su permanencia por largo tiempo.

 III.- CONTRATO DE OCUPACIÓN DE VIVIENDAS CON FINES TUSRÍSTICOS O COMO SERVICIOS DE ALOJAMIENTO TURÍSTICO.

A este tipo es al que se refiere y regulan las normas turísticas (en especial y en este caso el citado Decreto de la Junta de Andalucía).

Por ello, obviando el citado contrato de arrendamiento para vivienda habitual, conviene en este momento distinguir, como propósito de este comentario, cuando nos encontramos ante: UN SIMPLE ARRENDAMIENTO DE TEMPORADA. Por ejemplo cuando un particular arrienda su vivienda a una persona (turista o no) en una temporada de verano u otra, o CUANDO SE CEDE DICHA VIVIENDA PARA SU OCUPACIÓN COMO  ”ALOJAMIENTO DE HOSPEDAJE TURISTICO”.

Y para ello es necesario hacer una previa advertencia, ya que es frecuente  denominar a un contrato, derecho o una relación negocial de una determinada forma para tratar de eludir la normativa aplicable a ese negocio jurídico concreto, pero ello es inadmisible legalmente, porque los contratos y los derechos son lo que son y no como se les denomine, o como dice la propia jurisprudencia española:  “

“Los contratos tienen la naturaleza jurídica que se deriva de su contenido obligacional, independientemente de la denominación que le otorguen los intervinientes

Por ello, ciñéndonos a este comentario, si denominamos  “arrendamiento por temporada” a lo que legalmente  es un derecho de ocupación en un alojamiento turístico (o viceversa) no quiere decir que con ello podamos evitar las normas realmente aplicables a cada clase de derecho según su propia naturaleza jurídica.

En aras a una casi imposible brevedad, debemos definir o al menos delimitar cuando el propietario de una “vivienda” situada en suelo residencial, puede únicamente explotar su vivienda como alojamiento con fines turísticos y debe cumplir los requisitos legales para ello.- Es decir, a contrario, cuando no la puede ceder como simple arrendamiento por temporada.

Obligatoriamente se considerará que es una explotación turística de una vivienda enclavada en suelo residencial cuando concurran algunas o todas de las siguientes circunstancias:

  • Cuando sea comercializada o promocionada a través de canales de oferta turística, entendiendo por tales las agencias de viajes, las empresas que medien u organicen servicios turísticos y los canales en los que se incluya la posibilidad de reservas de alojamiento”.

Es muy importante destacar estas disposiciones del Decreto, ya que en ellas reside  el motivo principal por el que, en mi opinión, se ha aprobado esta norma legal, ya que viene además a contemplar cual ha sido el detonante de la antigua reclamación de los operadores de establecimientos de alojamientos turísticos “legales”, que han visto una competencia desleal en las ocupaciones por turistas de viviendas residenciales por cortos periodos de tiempo, pero también por la preocupación de la administración pública que por una parte ha visto cierta “peligrosidad” en una actividad no específicamente regulada y por otra incluso una evasión fiscal.

Ese detonante ha sido el uso promocional y comercial de “internet” para lograr la contratación de esas viviendas, es decir a través de lo que se han llamado los “canales de oferta turística”.

Simplemente haga el ejercicio de escribir en un buscador de internet algo así como “alquiler por días de apartamentos”.- Comprobará las numerosísimas páginas que se ofrecen para que el propietario de una vivienda ceda su ocupación a través de esa página web.- Uso de esas páginas que sabemos es frecuentemente monitorizadas por la “administración turística competente” por presuponer que es un canal de oferta turística, y que por lo tanto que por ese canal están comercializando sus viviendas, realizando una actividad clandestina de explotación de alojamientos turísticos acreedora de fuertes sanciones.

Tan es así que un anterior borrador de Decreto de viviendas de uso turístico de Andalucía fechado en 2014 señalaba, como hoy señala el actual y vigente Decreto,  que el gran aumento de esta actividad se debe, entre otras cosas a

“la irrupción de nuevas formas de comercialización, directas sin intermediarios, en especial numerosos portales de Internet… hasta el punto que ese anterior borrador de Decreto de 2014 daba por presumida la finalidad turística cuando se ofrezca ese servicio “a través del cualquier medio publicitario, incluido internet u otros sistemas de nuevas tecnologías…”

¿Quiere ello decir que cualquier persona que ofrezca directamente o a través de un portal de internet, incluso habitualmente, el uso de su vivienda para ser alquilada por más o menos largas temporadas, constituya una actividad de alojamiento turístico” o se convierta en lo que la nueva norma turística que aquí se comenta llama una vivienda residencial con fines turísticos?

Creo que sinceramente no es así.- Lo que define la actividad de alojamiento turístico no es su comercialización a través de internet, sino que verdaderamente se trate de un uso de alojamiento turístico.

El alojamiento turístico se define o se concreta fundamentalmente en la unión de dos elementos esenciales como son el “alojamiento físico en sí” y los “servicios complementarios usuales de la industria turística”, o como se  indica en el art. 40.2 de la Ley de Turismo de Andalucía: “Los establecimientos destinados  a la prestación de servicios  de alojamiento turístico deberán cumplir los requisitos  referidos a sus instalaciones, mobiliario, servicios, y en su caso….., según el tipo, categoría, modalidad o especialidad a la que pertenezcan.”

Por ello la ocupación de un alojamiento sin servicios añadidos propios de la industria turística, aunque en este casos sean mínimos, no se pueden considerar como alojamientos turísticos.

Conviene ahora centrarnos en las coincidencias y diferencias de una y otra clase de derechos.

Ciertamente el conflicto se ha presentado en el pasado y seguirá presentándose, aunque con mayor dificultad ahora,  cuando se quiera eludir el cumplimiento de esta nueva normativa de viviendas situadas en suelo residencial pero con servicios de hospedaje turístico y cuando se camufle bajo la pretendida forma del derecho legalmente tipificado de “arrendamiento por temporada”

 Volvemos a lo que al principio dije: las obligaciones contractuales son las que su propia naturaleza determina y no como se las quiere denominar.- Si el derecho que se contrata es de ocupación de un alojamiento turístico (es decir edificación legalmente apta para ello y a la que se preste los servicios complementarios de la industria de hospedaje turístico), no constituirá un contrato de arrendamiento por temporada, y se si pretende hacerlo bajo esta apariencia se estarán eludiendo las prescripciones de la clase de contrato que ahora se analiza y que por ello puede someter al infractor a severas sanciones administrativas.

Ello no quiere decir ni mucho menos que los que directamente o a través de comercializadores especializados lo deseen (como agentes de la propiedad inmobiliaria o intermediarios inmobiliarios), no puedan concertar su derecho de arrendamiento por temporada a través de internet u otros medios, ya que este medio electrónico no está reservado exclusivamente a la actividad de hospedaje.

A pesar de todos los esfuerzos de las normas legales, siempre puede haber un punto de conflicto entre estas dos clases de contratos, por lo que el Decreto que se analiza en su artículo 3 denominado “Definición”, más que  fijar con claridad, exactitud y precisión la la naturaleza del alojamiento en vivienda con fines turísticos, lo que hace es enumerar una relación no exhaustiva de las características que presumiblemente lo delimitan.

DELIMITACIÓN DE ÁMBITO OBJETIVO DE LAS “VIVIENDAS DE USO TURÍSTICO”. 

Resultado de imagen de imagenes apartamentos free

Las características delimitadoras (definidoras) de cuales son legalmente las viviendas con fines turísticos, que como tal han de inscribirse en el Registro de Turismo de Andalucía son según la norma aquí comentada las siguientes:

  • Estas viviendas han de estar situadas en suelo “residencial”.- Aunque parezca un contrasentido el que se excluya las situadas en “suelo turístico”, no es así, ya que en ese caso ya estaban obligadas a su destino turístico definido en otras normas.
  • Se ha de presumir (por lo que cabe prueba e contrario) que son viviendas con fines turísticos:
    • Las que se ofrezcan mediante precio con habitualidad y fines turísticos
    • La que se comercialicen o promocionen en canales de oferta turística.

·         Por el contrario se considerarán que no son viviendas con fines turísticos:

  • Las que se cedan gratuitamente o sin contraprestación económica
  • Las contratadas por tiempo superior a dos meses.
  • Las que estén sometidas a otras clases de actividad de alojamiento turístico.
  • Cuando se refiera a conjunto de tres o más viviendas en un mismo inmueble o grupo de inmuebles, contiguos o no, por serle de aplicación la normativa de apartamentos turísticos.

Requisitos esenciales para explotar su vivienda como “RESIDENCIAL TURÍSTICA”

1.- Que estén situadas en suelo residencial.

2.- Que se ceda mediante precio o contraprestación económica.

3.-Que el tiempo máximo de cesión no supere los dos meses.

4.- Que la explotación por un mismo titular se refiera a una o dos viviendas como máximo en una misma edificación o grupo de inmuebles contiguos o no.

5.- Contratar en cada vivienda como máximo el  número de plazas autorizadas según el tipo de aquella.

6.- INSCRIPCIÓN EN EL REGISTRO DE TURISMO DE ANDALUCÍA:

El proceso comienza con la presentación de Declaración Responsable ante la Administración en la que manifieste el titular que cumple los requisitos legales para esta actividad y en particular:

   6.1.- Datos y domicilio para notificaciones del propietario del inmueble

   6.2.- Identidad de la persona que “explota” la vivienda y titulo que le habilita para ello sino fuera el propietario.

   6.3.- Inscribirse en el Registro de Turismo de Andalucía y

   6.4.- Licencia o comunicación de la actividad al Ayuntamiento.

7.- OCUPACIÓN MÁXIMA DE LAS VIVIENDAS:

   7.1.- Si la vivienda se cede en su totalidad, la ocupación no debe ser superior a la autorizada por la Licencia Municipal de 1ª Ocupación y en todo caso como máximo de 15 plazas en total y de cuatro por habitación.

   7.2.- Si se cede la vivienda por habitaciones, deberá vivir e ella el titular y las plazas no podrán superar las 6 en total y 4 personas como máximo por habitación.

8.- REQUISITOS Y SERVICIOS COMUNES:

   8.1.-  La vivienda debe ser “legal”, lo que en principio significa que debe haber obtenido la licencia municipal de ocupación y cumplir las condiciones técnicas y de calidad exigible a estas viviendas.

   8.2.- Las habitaciones deben tener ventilación directa al exterior o patios y sistemas de oscurecimiento de la luz exterior.

   8.3.- Estar suficientemente amueblas y con los necesarios aparatos domésticos.

   8.4.- Disponer de sistema de calefacción si se ocupa entre los meses de octubre a abril, ambos inclusive y de refrigeración si lo es de mayo a septiembre, ambos inclusive.

   8.5.- Botiquín de primeros auxilios.

   8.6.- Disponer de información turística (zonas de ocio, cafeterías, restaurantes, etc.)

   8.7.- Disponer de hojas de quejas y reclamaciones a disposición de la autoridad turística.

   8.8.- Placa visible de “vivienda turística”.

   8.9.- Limpieza al menos a la entrada y salida de clientes.

   8.10.- Ropa de cama, lencería, menaje, etc.

   8.11.- Teléfono de contacto con el titular para resolver incidencias.

 8.12.- Información e instrucciones de funcionamiento de electrodomésticos y aparatos.

   8.13.- Información de normas de uso de las instalaciones y si se admiten mascotas en la vivienda o fumadores.

Obviamente en este artículo no se contienen todos los datos de forma específica, sino una información general.

9.- IMPUESTOS

El titular de estas viviendas se convierte en explotador de las mismas y debe observar las normas legales de aplicación, ya que recibe rentas y ha de pagar suministros y servicios y por lo tanto tendrá  beneficios o pérdidas, por lo que debe presentar declaraciones tributarias trimestrales, retenciones, etc.- Es además una actividad sujeta a IVA al tipo reducido del 10%, con las obligaciones formales que ello conlleva.

Resultado de imagen de FREE IMAGEN CASA ANDALUZA

DELIMITACIÓN OBJETIVA DEL ARRENDAMIENTO POR TEMPORADA DE VERANO U OTRA TEMPORADA.

Aunque tradicionalmente la contratación del arrendamiento por temporada se ha llevado a cabo directamente entre el propietario y otra persona que de cualquier forma le ha sido presentada o a través de una agencia de intermediación inmobiliaria, ello no implica que el mismo propietario, o un intermediario, en especial un intermediario inmobiliario, no puede realizar esa labor o esa promoción y comercialización en internet del contrato de arrendamiento por temporada. Es decir la comercialización por internet no significa necesariamente “comercialización por canales de oferta turística”.

 Como desde el principio señalamos los límites diferenciadores entre la explotación de una edificación-vivienda mediante “un contrato de arrendamiento por temporada”  y la misma edificación-vivienda “mediante el contrato de hospedaje al que se refiere la normativa que ahora comentamos”,  son imprecisos ya que no tenemos una definición exacta de cada uno.- Delimitación imprecisa como decimos, ya que ambas edificaciones son viviendas para ser ocupadas por personas, ambas situadas en suelo residencial y en ambos casos con una duración temporal más o menos reducida, al menos en muchos casos.

Por ello al tratar de delimitar lo que significa arrendamiento por temporada, por oposición a lo que significa la cesión de la vivienda por contrato de hospedaje, tendremos que recurrir, no una definición legal de cada derecho, sino a los elementos integrantes –o en este caso sobre todo excluyentes-  de una clase u otra de cada derecho contractual.

De esta forma y sin ser exhaustivos estaremos ante un contrato de arrendamiento por temporada, si tiene una duración superior a dos meses (aunque existan arrendamientos por tiempo inferior), y si al mismo tiempo no se prestan los servicios complementarios e inherentes al hospedaje, etc.

Por otro lado el contrato de hospedaje en vivienda residencial con fines turísticos requiere fundamentalmente la prestación de los servicios propios de la industria de alojamientos turísticos, aunque sean tan mínimos como los que se señalan en el Decreto que comentamos. Si estos se prestan no estaríamos ante un contrato de arrendamiento por temporada.

Ya dijimos al principio que la administración turística andaluza está monitorizando especialmente los canales de oferta turística en internet, hasta el punto que ya se han venido sucediendo con frecuencia inspecciones y sanciones de complejos de alojamientos con varias unidades, pero ahora, tras la entrada e vigor de este Decreto, se procederá sin duda alguna a revisar en internet, en lo que se consideran canales de oferta turística, las viviendas singulares que hospedan a turistas al margen de lo requerido en esta ley y obviamente imponiendo las sanciones correspondientes a quienes lo contravengan.

Dicho lo anterior, en cuanto a los requisitos del arrendamiento por temporada por oposición a lo que es contrato de hospedaje en vivienda residencial, tenemos que decir que la “temporada” no tiene un límite temporal concreto, es decir que no se delimita ni por un mínimo de tiempo ni por un límite máximo.- La temporada se refiere más bien a la necesidad o incluso conveniencia del arrendatario para ocupar la vivienda “temporalmente”, sin servicios complementarios de la industria turística por una parte, y sin ánimo de satisfacer la necesidad primordial y primaria de vivienda de las personas y su familia, ya que en este caso nos encontraríamos ante un contrato ordinario de vivienda residencial habitual.

La temporada (más típica) es la de verano, pero puede ser otra cualquiera, como la que necesita una persona para atender su necesidad por tener que acudir al un trabajo temporal (por ejemplo de 6 meses o de un año u año o mas) etc.

Por ello puede existir una temporada inferior a dos meses (sin que ello signifique contrato de hospedaje) o puede ser superior a 11 meses, sin que ello signifique que sea arredramiento de vivienda residencial habitual.

Y recalcamos esos dos límites temporales: inferior a dos meses y superior a onces meses, porque tradicionalmente se ha querido entender que estipulando uno u otro podemos a voluntad circunvalar las normas imperativas de un contrato determinado.- Así durante décadas se han otorgado “formalmente” contratos de temporada de “once meses”, creyendo los arrendadores que con ello excluían el arrendamiento “ordinario” de vivienda habitual y sus prorrogas obligatorias para el arrendador, que antes eran indefinidas, más tarde obligatorias hasta cinco años y hoy hasta tres, dependiendo de la fecha de celebración del contrato. Pues bien, los que trataron (y hoy siguen tratándolo con desconocimiento de sus consecuencias) de simular un contrato de temporada con el único requisito de concretarlo en once meses improrrogables, vieron que los tribunales sentenciaron hace muchos años que bajo esa denominación y apariencia se contrató realmente un arrendamiento de vivienda ordinaria habitual, con prórroga indefinida hasta el fallecimiento de arrendatario e incluso de su cónyuge e hijos en muchos casos.

Por todo ello si se opta por un arrendamiento de corta o larga temporada, debe ser porque existe un motivo de temporalidad en ocupar la vivienda.

Hay que destacar por tanto que el contrato de arrendamiento por temporada  se ha de referir a una “edificación-vivienda, que puede estar amueblado o no, aunque la lógica nos indica que en las cortas temporadas debe estar amueblado y además hay que cumplir un importante requisito de garantía y es que el arrendatario entregue al arrendador una cantidad igual a dos meses  de renta como fianza a responder de los desperfectos que se causen, y que el arrendador debe depositarla en la Hacienda Pública de Andalucía, que la devolverá sin intereses cuando termine el arrendamiento.

La actual legislación estatal española excluía de este requisito a los arrendamientos por temporada, pero hoy la competencia tributaria en esta materia es de las comunidades autónomas y la de Andalucía en su propia legislación obliga al arrendador a que exija bajo su propia responsabilidad al arrendatario que entregue esas dos mensualidades de fianza, aunque el arrendamiento por temporada fuere de quince días, un mes o más. Es realmente un contrasentido y además ilógico, pero esa es la norma legal que se ha de cumplir y la administración tributaria andaluza hoy persigue ese incumplimiento con sanciones al arrendador.

También en este caso, como en otros, las rentas obtenidas por el arrendador están sometidas a tributación ante la Hacienda Pública estatal.

CONCLUSIÓN:

La cesión onerosa en Andalucía (y en términos similares en otras regiones autónomas españolas) de edificaciones-viviendas situadas en suelo residencial, podrán realizarse mediante contrato de hospedaje, contratos de arrendamiento por temporada o contratos de arrendamiento “ordinarios” (para satisfacer la necesidad primordial y habitual de vivienda de las personas), pero la elección de cada uno de esos derechos o contratos no es libre, sino que  debe hacerse cuando cumplan los requisitos mínimos legalmente obligatorios para su aplicación en cada caso.

Este es un artículo de opinión que se somete a cualquiera otra de mayor inteligencia y conocimiento.

Francisco J. Lizarza – Lizarza Abogados S.L.P.

Abril 2016

Inversión en el Sector Inmobiliario en España, 2015

IREA, prestadora  servicios de asesoramiento financiero y estratégico especializados en los sectores inmobiliario y hotelero ha publicado recientemente el Informe sobre el Sector Inmobiliario  en España en 2015, del que citamos literalmente los siguientes párrafos.

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El crecimiento que ha experimentado la economía durante 2015, junto con la recuperación de la confianza por parte del consumidor, han sido  los factores clave que han determinado el gran volumen de capital extranjero invertido en el mercado español y el elevado número de operaciones registradas.

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Inversión inmobiliaria en España en 2015

2015 se ha cerrado con un volumen total de inversión en el sector inmobiliario de 21.983 M€ cifra que corrobora el dinamismo en el que ha entrado el sector desde el año 2014.

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Transacciones de activos inmobiliarios

Las transacciones de activos inmobiliarios han acumulado una inversión de 12.848M€ de los cuales 11.487M€ corresponden a la inversión registrada por el sector terciario, alcanzando el 89% de la inversión total. El mercado de oficinas lidera la inversión en este sector, con un 39% del volumen de inversión y un crecimiento del 95% respecto a 2014.

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Por su parte, el sector hotelero, alcanzó en 2015 su mejor “marca” histórica registrando un volumen de inversión de 2.614M€ y superando en más del 50% la cifra registrada en 2014, 1.081M€.

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En 2015 se ha constatado un escenario de mejora y recuperación del mercado residencial:

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El residencial ha experimentado un notable incremento del volumen de inversión alcanzando un total de 1.361M€ (+65% respecto a 2014).

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Las operaciones de suelo se convierten en un nuevo target de inversión tras varios años ausentes en el mercado, habiéndose cerrado en 2015 operaciones por un volumen de 929 M€, (+169% respecto a 2014).

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La inversión en suelo para promoción residencial se dispara por primera vez después de la crisis, acumulando 706M€, cifra que se ha multiplicado por 7 respecto al nivel alcanzado en 2014.

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Las sociedades inmobiliarias (43%) y los fondos de inversión internacionales (38%), concentran el 81% de las operaciones de suelo, creando en muchos casos alianzas en las operaciones de compra y posterior promoción.

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 Perfil de compradores

Los inversores con sede en España, Socimis e inversores nacionales, han copado el 61% de la inversión en activos.

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Perfil de vendedores

Las empresas inmobiliarias de origen nacional han multiplicado por 6.75 la venta de activos inmobiliarios aprovechando la nueva liquidez del mercado para la desinversión de sus carteras.

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Las entidades financieras, tras años liderando la desinversión de activos, pasan este año a un segundo plano con un 5% de la desinversión total, otro signo más de la normalización en la que ha entrado el sector.

 -o-o-o-

Desde el punto de vista de la financiación se prevé que las entidades financieras nacionales continúen incrementando los volúmenes de capital destinado al sector inmobiliario y mejorando las condiciones de concesión de financiación a inversores y promotores consolidando así una tendencia iniciada en el año 2015.

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La logística, los hoteles y la promoción residencial serán los mercados más atractivos para los inversores en 2016. El sector logístico necesita de un desarrollo y adaptación a nuevos modelos de negocio y se verá impulsado por el crecimiento del e-commerce, que en España tiene un peso cada vez mayor en el consumo nacional.

 -o-o-o-

Por lo que se refiere al residencial, el mayor acceso a la financiación hipotecaria y el interés de promotores y fondos en invertir en este mercado, potenciarán en mayor medida dicha actividad.

FUENTE: IREA. http://www.irea.es

The General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries holds a dissenting view from that of the Supreme Court on the maximum duration of systems in existence before the 1998 Timeshare Act

RDO has furnished us with a Report dated 9 February 2016 which was issued by the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries at the request of the Ombudsman of the Canary Islands.

We believe that the interpretation reflected in this report is more in line with the spirit, the rationale and the mandatory provisions of the Rotational Enjoyment of Real Property for Tourism Purposes Act 42/1998 (LAT 42/1998).

It is important to stress that this Act was in fact developed within the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries. This Act incorporated the prescriptions of the 1994 Timeshare Directive, but it was also intended to respect the rights in existence before its enactment, albeit demanding the owners and/or promoters of this kind of touristic operation to have the pre-existing system registered, whether transformed into a system of in-rem or leasehold rights of rotational enjoyment or preserving its own pre-existing legal nature, whether subject to Spanish or to non-Spanish law, and whether its maximum duration was 50 years or more, or even indefinite if this was expressly declared in the Deed.

REPORT ON CURRENT SITUATION OF RIGHTS OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY CREATED BEFORE THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT OF 15 DECEMBER 1998

   (Click on the originals images-pages below for the Spanish version)

Informe DGRN 1-page-001

Following a request filed with the General Register of the Ministry of Justice on 16 December 2015, this report has been issued by this General Directorate with regard to a query made by the Canary Islands’ Ombudsman concerning the current situation of the rights of rotational enjoyment of real property created before the coming into force of the Act of 15 December 1998.

THE ASSISTANT DEPUTY DIRECTOR,

Elena Imedio Marugán

Informe DGRN 1-page-002

Sec. 3ª R. 1833/2015-10.4

REPORT ON CURRENT SITUATION OF RIGHTS OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY CREATED BEFORE THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT OF 15 DECEMBER 1998

            The report requested on the instruction of the Ombudsman of the Canary Islands focuses on the current situation of those rights of rotational enjoyment of real property which were created before the coming into force of the Timeshare Act of 15 December 1998.

            This request has been prompted by various Judgements of our Supreme Court (specifically the Judgements rendered on 15 January and 16 July 2015 by the Civil Chamber) which declare the nullity of certain contracts relating to rights of enjoyment –which had been created before the enactment of the aforementioned rule-, the execution date of such contracts being later than said coming into force.

            Both cases involved rights relating to occupation periods which were still owned by the promoter of the scheme.

            The Supreme Court, similarly in both cases, resolved the matter as follows:

“SEVENTH LEGAL GROUND

 I.- Act 42/1998 of 15 December regulated the different formulas enabling the transfer of the right to use an accommodation unit during a period of time each year, which had been known as multi-ownership despite the fact that, as stated in the Rationale, they involved a temporal division of the right to use a real property.

 In addition to implementing Directive 94/47/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 1994 –regarding protection to the purchasers in relation to certain aspects of contracts of acquisition of the right to use real property on a timeshare basis-, the legislator intended to provide the institution with a full set of regulations, for which purpose they considered of utmost importance to decide whether any of the formulas created by the principle of free will should be admitted or only the system regulated by Law was admissible and any other system should be therefore left out. And they chose a middle path by imposing a detailed regulation of the right in rem over somebody else’s property and admitting the seasonal leasehold variation so that, outside this alternative, the legislator considered that the transaction had been made in circumvention of law and, also, that the fraudulent legal transaction was to be rendered null and void –article 1, paragraph 7-.

 Of particular importance for the regulation established in the Act was the duration of the scheme, determined by article 3, paragraph 1, as lasting three to fifty years – “[…] from the date of registration of the legal scheme or from the date of registration of the completion of works where the scheme has been created in respect of a property under construction”-.

  This rule is supplemented by the second transitional provision, in which the legislator addressed the effects of the new regulation on the so-called “pre-existing schemes”, imposing the mandatory adaptation of the latter to its provisions within two years –paragraph 1 -.

Indeed, after imposing such an adaptation to the new scheme, also in relation to time – “without prejudice to that set forth in the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes…..

Informe DGRN 2-page-001

….will have a maximum duration of fifty years as from the coming into force of this Act […]” – , paragraph 3 of said transitional rule permitted the possibility of formulating, in the Deed of Adaptation, an “[…] express declaration of continuance for an indefinite or a specific period of time”.

 This latter alternative, informed by a wish to respect the rights already acquired, was chosen by Anfi Sales, SL, insofar as it expressly declared in the Deed of Adaptation that its pre-existing scheme would continue to have an indefinite duration.

 However, the appellant’s interpretation of the aforementioned paragraph 3 of the second transitional provision, on which it bases its argument, does not respect the sense which arises out of the systematic connection thereof to paragraph 2 of the transitional rule itself, whose content the former respects in any event – “without prejudice to that set forth in the last preceding paragraph […]” – and according to which every owner – also, therefore, the now appellant – who, after the Deed of Adaptation, wanted to “market the occupation periods not yet transferred as rights of rotational enjoyment”, should constitute “the scheme in respect of the periods available with the requirements established in this Act”, including the temporal requirement stablished in article 3, paragraph 1.

 The Appellant, claiming the applicability of a rule which did not provide sufficient coverage, failed to do this and, therefore, by marketing the occupation periods not yet transferred when the new Act was already in force without respecting the timeframe established in the rule of said article, it breached the article, as declared by the Appeal Court by virtue of a correct interpretation of the set of regulations (Supreme Court Judgement of 15 January 2015).

 Therefore, what our high court wanted to point out is that, while contracts entered into before the 1998 Act may continue to have the duration thereby agreed, including an indefinite duration (provided that this has been expressly established in the Deed of Adaptation), all contracts entered into after the coming into force of the rule must be subject to the temporal limits laid down therein (namely, a maximum duration of 50 years).

In other words, only those rights relating to occupation periods constituted in favour of third-party purchasers, not promoters of the scheme, whose contracts were entered into before the coming into force of the Act of 15 December 1998, are protected with an eventual indefinite duration.

The transitional provision applied in the aforementioned rulings is that contained in the Second Transitional Provision of Act 42/1998 of 15 December, which literally states as follows:

 

            “Second – Pre-existing Schemes

 

  1. Pre-existing schemes relating to rights involving the use of one or more properties, constructed or under construction, during a defined or definable period of the year, the establishment of which is recorded in any form recognised by law, must be adapted to the provisions of this Act within a period of two years.

             If the pre-existing scheme is registered, the Registrar may be asked to provide the non-binding report referred to in Article 355 of the Mortgage Regulations concerning the manner in which the adaptation is to be effected.

Informe DGRN 2-page-002

 At the end of the two years, any holder of an in-rem or personal right relating to the use of one or more properties during a defined or definable period of the year may apply to the Courts for the enforcement of the adaptation described in this provision.

  1. For such an adaptation it will be necessary, in any event, to execute a regulatory deed fulfilling those requirements of Article 5 which are compatible with the nature of the scheme and to have it registered at the Land Registry, solely for public record purposes and fully respecting the rights acquired. Of the contracts to which the said Article refers, only those which are in existence at the time of the adaptation must be incorporated. The deed must be executed by the sole owner of the property.

             If the pre-existing scheme was established in such a way that the holders of the rights are owners of undivided shares in the property which confer on them the right to enjoy a defined occupation period, the deed of adaptation must be executed by the President of the Community of Owners following a resolution passed by a simple majority of those attending the General Meeting to be called for that purpose.

 In the deed of adaptation, the sole owner of the property must describe the pre-existing scheme and declare that the rights to be conveyed in the future will be of the nature derived from that scheme and identical to those already transferred. If the owner wishes to market as rotational enjoyment rights the occupation periods which have not yet been transferred, they must also establish the scheme in respect of those unallocated periods subject to the requirements of this Act, albeit the scheme will not need to be established for the whole property but only in respect of those occupation periods which have not yet been transferred. If the Owner wishes to convert the whole scheme into a scheme of rotational enjoyment rights, as regulated by the Act, they may do so in accordance with all the requirements contained herein, albeit maintaining the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if such a duration is indefinite.

  1. Without prejudice to the provisions of the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes will have a maximum duration of fifty years from the coming into effect of this Act unless their duration is shorter or the deed of adaptation contains an express statement that they are to continue for an indefinite period or for a specific period of time.”

             In a wider sense, the provisions on transitional regulations contained in our Civil Code (whose interpretative value may in no event be called into question) included the basic rule of non-retroactivity, along the same lines as article 2 of the same body of laws and article 9 of the Spanish Constitution, guarantor of legal certainty and non-retroactivity of penalty provisions which are not favourable to, or restrictive of, individual rights.

Our Code on transitional provisions sets forth that:

“Any variation introduced by this Code which is detrimental to rights acquired under the preceding civil legislation will not have retroactive effect.

 

First transitional provision

 The legislation which preceded the Code shall govern those rights which, according to said preceding legislation, arise from actions performed under its regime, even if these are regulated differently or fail to be recognised by the new Code. However, where a right is declared for the first time in the Code, it will take effect immediately irrespective of whether or not the fact from which it arose was verified under the preceding legislation, provided that it is not detrimental to another acquired right of the same origin.

Informe DGRN 3-page-001

Second transitional provision

 Acts and contracts executed under the preceding legislation which are valid according to it shall take full effect in accordance thereto, with the limitations established in these rules. (…) but the revocation or modification of such acts or of any clause contained therein may only be verified, after the coming into force of the Code, by executing a Will in accordance with it.”

 The literal wording of the rules analysed clearly shows the establishment of a non-retroactivity system whereby the rights, acts and contracts created before the publication of the rule were fully protected and regulated by the preceding regulations.

In this sense, despite being reiterative, it is relevant to point out that the Second Transitional Provision of the 15 December 1998 Act states as follows:

Pre-existing schemes must be adapted, within two years, to the provisions of this Act. For such an adaptation it will be necessary, in any event, to execute a regulatory deed fulfilling those requirements of Article 5 which are compatible with the nature of the scheme and to have it registered at the Land Registry, solely for public record purposes and fully respecting the rights acquired.

            In the deed of adaptation, the sole owner of the property must describe the pre-existing scheme and declare that the rights to be conveyed in the future will be of the nature derived from that scheme and identical to those already transferred.

If the owner wishes to market as rotational enjoyment rights the occupation periods which have not yet been transferred, they must also establish the scheme in respect of those unallocated periods subject to the requirements of this Act, albeit the scheme will not need to be established for the whole property but only in respect of those occupation periods which have not yet been transferred.

 If the Owner wishes to convert the whole scheme into a scheme of rotational enjoyment rights, as regulated by the Act, they may do so in accordance with all the requirements contained herein, albeit maintaining the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if such a duration is indefinite.

 Without prejudice to the provisions of the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes will have a maximum duration of fifty years from the coming into effect of this Act unless their duration is shorter or the deed of adaptation contains an express statement that they are to continue for an indefinite period or for a specific period of time.”

 This provision, therefore, demands that pre-existing schemes be duly adapted to the new Act (mainly in the sense of clarifying the nature of the right created), but it allows a subjection to certain conditions of the preceding scheme including, without a doubt, the possibility of indefinite duration. And such an indefinite duration can apply both to occupation periods created and transferred and to those not yet transferred.

Also, executing the deed of adaptation entails, by virtue of mandatory rule no. 3 of article 5.1 of the 1998 Act, that the deed must reflect the occupation periods which exist in relation to each unit, including both those transferred and those still in possession of the promoter of the scheme. In addition, the Second Transitional Provision of the aforementioned special Act itself allows both the possibility of configuring a right of rotational enjoyment in respect of the unsold occupation periods and the conversion of all the existing rights (sold or…..

Informe DGRN 3-page-002

….unsold) for a full subjection thereof to the rule, albeit allowing it to maintain the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if indefinite. It does not seem logical to allow the promoter to configure all the occupation periods under the new scheme (not under a mere adaptation) and maintain the indefinite duration of the scheme while, at the same time, the situation of the as yet unsold periods (although already created as such occupation periods before its coming into force) may not be configured under the new Act preserving its indefinite duration.

Additionally, and included in this report for its interpretative value as aforesaid, it is worth pointing out that the rules of the Civil Code on transitional law acknowledge the validity and ulterior applicability of all rights, acts and contracts executed before its coming into force, which means that, in a case like this, where the right of the promoter of the scheme had already been created on configuring –before the 1998 Act– the units and the occupation periods or rights relating to them, the publication of the new rule should not impair or alter such legal situations already created or the effects which the latter may have.

Therefore, the conclusion to be drawn is that our high court has differentiated between occupation periods already marketed (which are allowed to maintain their indefinite nature) and those not transferred, whose indefinite duration they regard as a breach of the 50-year temporal limitation, which infraction is acknowledged as deserving to be rendered null and void under article 6 of our Civil Code. This argument, therefore, differs from the sense which, in this directorate’s view, is intended by the 15 December 1998 Act for the purposes of adaptation of pre-existing schemes to its substantive provisions.

It is not reasonable that the whole system of enjoyment should be allowed to be converted to the new Act (where marketed and unsold periods coexist) and maintain the indefinite duration of all its occupation periods while, in the event that only the periods not marketed are directly regulated by the new Act, their duration is limited to 50 years. The rotational system, in both cases, existed before the coming into force of the rule, and it involves a number of rights in favour of the promoter (all of them included and defined in the deed of adaptation imposed by the transitional rule and registered with the Land Registry) to which the rule is applied retroactively, without respecting their indefinite duration.

Transferring the occupation periods already configured to a third party may not be considered to constitute the event which allows a differentiation between indefinite and limited duration periods, as the promoter’s right has, without a doubt, come into existence, and its configuration took place before the coming into force of the Act, not to mention that some of the paragraphs of the Second Transitional Provision of the 1998 Act are thereby fully voided.

Madrid, 8th February 2016.

THE DIRECTOR GENERAL

Francisco Javier Gómez Gálligo

Lizarza AbogadosS.L.P.U.

Marbella, 9th March 2016