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

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

TIMESHARE FACING A “PULL FACTOR”

LLAMADAThe recent Judgements of the Spanish Supreme Court rendered during the year just ended, 2015, have caused or may cause a tsunami which could ruin the timeshare industry as a result of the “pull factor” created by the interpretation of these Judgements and the application thereof by first instance courts and provincial courts, which has already started.

The doctrine contained in Supreme Court Judgement (SCJ) no. 774/2014 concerning the requirements to be met for the adaptation of timeshare systems in existence before the enactment of the Spanish Act 42/1998, and in SCJ 830/2015, handed down on the same date, regarding the requirements to be met by the subject of a timeshare contract (which, in addition, have both been promptly ratified by Judgements given during the same year so as to fulfil –and this is my personal opinion – the reiteration requirement necessary for Case Law to be considered a source of Law), certainly seem to indicate that the intention of the Supreme Court was to take strong action for the purpose of bringing order to a Sector plagued by a bad reputation it has failed to shake off, sometimes through fault of its own but more often than not due to a factual assumption that the consumer, whatever they say or do and even if all of it is contrary to true facts, actual events or their own actions, IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

In every consumer relationship, greater and more thorough diligence is always demanded from the trader in the fulfilment of its obligations simply because it has the upper hand over the consumer, but the consumer is also demanded to exercise their rights in good face and without abusing their own rights. Just as “bad faith traders” do exist and their dominant position allows them to take greater advantage of their position, bad consumers also exist, and not occasionally or only in isolated cases, but acting together, not only through non-profit organisations for the defence of their own interests, but also through other professionals and traders who use the means provided by the information society and the electronic networks for the obvious purpose of obtaining a personal gain.

Supreme Court Judgements 747/2014 and 830/2015 have filled with bewilderment timeshare resort promoters, companies providing tourism services to those resorts and virtually all the legal operators who, after fifteen years of what appeared to be a correct interpretation of Act 42/1998 of 15 December, have been surprised –if not overruled – by the Supreme Court with a new and, until that moment, almost exclusive interpretation of the requirements to be met for the adaptation of pre-existing systems or the extent of the requirements relating to the subject of the contract.

I have not entitled this opinion article “Timeshare Facing a Pull Factor” because of the existence of some dark conspiracy against this Sector, but to stress that such a “pull factor” does certainly exist, particularly as the possible claims to the courts of justice are being “marketed”.

The pull factor as such takes place when the doctrine established by the Supreme Court in a specific case (and it could not be different in this instance) is taken out of context and isolated and subsequently translated by for-profit operators (an activity which, other considerations aside, is currently lawful) in a simplistic, albeit not totally wrong, interpretation, outside the context of the specific case to which it relates, of the following doctrine:

A.- Doctrine initially contained in SCJ 747/2014 which, in my view, denies the possibility of adapting systems in existence before the enactment of Act 42/1998 by merely giving them public status, which was the form of adaptation used with virtually all timeshare resorts. The Supreme Court has thus established that the “transformation of pre-existing timeshare rights into in-rem or leasehold rights of rotational enjoyment according to the requirements of said Act” is the correct doctrinal interpretation of how adaptations must be performed.

B.- Doctrine contained in SCJ number 830/2015: “In the legal system established by Act 42/1998 of 15 December on rights of rotational enjoyment of holiday accommodation, failure by the contract to determine the unit which constitutes the subject thereof determines the nullity of such a contract, as provided for by Article 1.7 in relation to Article 9.1.3 of the said Act”.

This doctrinal line has been vulgarly, publicly and interestedly translated by trading and legal operators seeking to make a profit in the following statements:

• “Timeshare contracts entered into up to 2012 whose duration is in excess of 50 years are absolutely and radically null and void”.
• “Even if you have used the tourist resorts for 10, 15 or 20 years, you can recover all the money you paid – absolutely the full price you paid”.

• “You can also get back all the money you have paid every year as service fees even if the services have been provided to you”.
• “Additionally, you will not have to pay anything to the lawyers and legal representatives acting on your behalf in the Courts. This will be borne by the seller when they lose the case and, otherwise, your lawyers and legal representatives will not charge you anything”.
They obviously fail to mention that if the claimant loses the case, the claimant’s lawyers may not charge them anything but the Courts will, as a general legal principle, obligate them to pay the court costs and even the fees of the counterparty’s lawyers and legal representatives.
Who would, therefore, reject so many advantages when there is no downside?

It’s like the lottery without even having to pay for the ticket!

I believe it is necessary at this point to analyse whether, on the one hand, the above Case Law –treated as an axiom without the possibility of being disproved whatever the reason argued, however petty, irrelevant or even if based on a mere statement without having to prove anything relating to its truthfulness – can be applicable always or virtually always and in every case as proclaimed by the providers of free legal services or whether, as is my view, the aforementioned Case Law needs to be considered in the context of each specific case and in accordance with the Spanish substantive laws, in some cases, or with the law to which the contract is subject in other cases, without disregarding the fact that jurisdiction may lay with non-Spanish courts in many cases.

On the other hand, the –fundamentally economic and social – consequences of the promised universal lottery also need to be analysed.

In relation to the former, judgements have already been issued by provincial courts whose interpretation is that a brief paragraph from the Supreme Court Judgements may not be applied in every case disregarding the context of the court resolutions of the provincial courts themselves. By way of an example, Judgement 477/2015 rendered by the Provincial Court of Las Palmas, Canary Islands, on 27 November 2015, states that:

As we have seen, the aforementioned SCJ does not resolve a similar situation to the case at hand (where the subject of the transfer is not timeshare rights but condominium) and is therefore not applicable. Consequently, this Court must stick to the criterion previously described in relation to the admissibility of maintaining the pre-existing system”.

I believe that this is the line along which the Instance and Appeal Courts will go when the moment comes in the proceeding to contest other issues which had somehow been taken for granted, to such an extent that they had not been argued by the parties and that, therefore, by virtue of the principle of consistency of judgements, these may not accept or reject matters not raised by the parties in assessing the general aspects of the cases.

And here could be the first flaw of the principle followed by the managers of free legal services who encourage the consumers simply to file claims, without any further consideration, through websites and advertisements saying that the court case is basically won beforehand and that the defendant trader will bear all the expenses and the court costs, as such court costs will be inevitably awarded against the consumer. They obviously omit and fail to mention, as aforesaid, that the claimant can be sentenced to pay the court costs if the court does not accept their claims.

Will the traders who are promoting free legal services be able to promise their clients that they will not lose their right, will not pay any court costs even if they lose the case and that they will not have to pay what they owe? I believe they will not, as they say nothing about these things but simply gloss over them and fail to give any undertakings.

This is the problem with assuring an outcome in the case of a judicial controversy which is to be resolved by an independent judge.

But we also mentioned that this organised pull factor can bring about other economic or social consequences, such as:

  • A huge increase in litigiousness.

  • An escalation of bankruptcy of tourism companies and resorts. Timeshare traders will be unable to reimburse the total price paid by virtue of the vast majority of the contracts entered into over the past 15 to 20 years, during which time accommodation services have been provided, employees have been hired, utilities paid, etc., if even the proportional share of the price of the right of occupation which relates to the time during which such right has been enjoyed would have to be reimbursed.

  • Loss of a very large number of jobs.

  • Loss of the right acquired by those timeshare users who are happy with their right of occupation and want to continue to use it rather than opt for the free lottery.

  • This may be taken to the limit in those cases where there is no promoter at this time and where the resort is directly managed by its members (consumers and users) through the management bodies appointed from their number, i.e. the General Meeting of Members and the Management Committee appointed by it. Will the claimants sue a promoter who ceased to exist years ago or will they sue the other members?

Therefore, earnestness and good faith is needed from the parties, including the providers of free legal services, the traders in the Sector and the consumers and users.

If the consumers must be demanded to act in good faith and to abstain from abusing their right, the traders –in relation to the past – should review their own situation and, where it was not correct, they will have to amend it, if possible through out-of-court procedures and solutions, and for the present and for the future adapt their commercial practices and their contractual documents rigorously and strictly according to the thorough legal rules, seeking to achieve the necessary training of the agents involved in the commercialisation process so that they understand that this is the time of consumers and users and that, consequently, they need to know and respect their legal rights and those which are inherent in a proper commercialisation process.

Francisco J Lizarza – Lizarza Abogados

Marbella, January the 11th, 2015

EL TIEMPO COMPARTIDO, CLAVE DE FUTURO PARA EL NEGOCIO HOTELERO

ICONO MEDIO ESPAÑA

 

  SEMINARIO EN TENERIFE

 

 

JORNADAS INFORMATIVAS “EL TIEMPO COMPARTIDO, CLAVE DE FUTURO PARA EL NEGOCIO HOTELERO”

El próximo jueves 21 de mayo de 10:00 a 13:00 horas, ASHOTEL y RDO España celebrarán en el Hotel SANTA BARBARA GOLF AND OCEAN CLUB, una interesante jornada informativa dirigida a inversores, empresarios y profesionales del sector hotelero canario.

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Las ponencias serán impartidas por expertos en la gestión, explotación y comercialización de complejos de Tiempo Compartido.

La participación es gratuita, previa inscripción. Fecha límite para inscribirse: lunes 18 de mayo.

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PART II : RELINQUISHMENT OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT RIGHTS OF A DIFFERENT LEGAL NATURE (I.E. WITH A DIFFERENT LEGAL STRUCTURE) TO THE AFOREMENTIONED “MULTI-OWNERSHIP”.

triplesunrise_diacon

In line with the legal grounds of the DGRN Resolution with regard to the relinquishment of “multi-ownership” rights, in this case we set out to study the possibility of unilateral relinquishment of rights whose main subject is the rotational enjoyment of an accommodation unit but which, rather than being constituted as a community of multi-ownership, are based on typical or atypical contracts relating to in rem or personal rights different from those mentioned above.

 Very different legal formulas and structures other than “multi-ownership” are and have been employed. Therefore, being unable to be exhaustive, we will only refer to the main or most commonly used structures, albeit taking also into account the time when they were constituted in relation to the Spanish legal regulations on the matter and the validity over time of each of their provisions.

1.- ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT SCHEMES AND CONTRACTS PRIOR TO THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT OF PROPERTY FOR TOURIST USE ACT (TIMESHARE ACT 42/1998).

Before the appearance of this Act, there was not any specific legal regulation governing what was then almost exclusively known as “multi-ownership” or, otherwise, timeshare; in the case of the former name (multi-ownership), its use is practically confined nowadays to the “community of multi-ownership” as described above, while the second term (timeshare) would be used to refer to almost all the remaining legal formulas of this phenomenon at the time, albeit predominantly to the legal system called “club-trustee”, now and then the most commonly used system in Spain.

 There not being a specific Act during this period, the various schemes were constituted under the general principles of Spanish Law known as “principle of free will” and “right to freedom of contract” and, therefore, took any form that was not contrary to Law and to the remaining general principles of our legal system.

        Among the most widely used schemes-structures, in addition to the aforesaid multi-ownership, we would mention: “Club-Trustee”, “Multi-leasehold” scheme, Trading Company, Civil Partnership, Associations, etc.

As these schemes of rotational enjoyment rights established under the freedom of contract principle are not legally defined, we could say that their own Rules and Regulations, insofar as they have been accepted, constitute their “law between the parties”. There being no provisions in these Rules concerning unilateral relinquishment of Rotational Enjoyment Rights, it can be concluded that:

        –If the right is of a contractual nature, which it is most likely to be, then Article 1256 CC (Civil Code) will apply. By virtue of this article, compliance with a contract may not be left to the discretion of one of the parties; i.e. the obligations of the parties may not be determined by one of them but must be previously determined in the contract or, at least, the rules for determination of the future obligation must be contained in the contract. No provisions typical of Anglo Saxon law such as “from time to time” or “as reasonably determined” etc may be employed in this case.

        –If the right is of any other nature, then the same considerations contained in the doctrine established by the Resolution, and other doctrine of the DGRN by analogy, could be applicable.

        –As regards the effects of the relinquishment, if admissible, the relinquished rights would revert back to the developer of the scheme or to the seller of the right unless otherwise provided in its rules and regulations.

        –Of especial note are the associative and corporate schemes which were constituted under Spanish law before being prohibited by Act 42/1998, particularly those formalised as civil partnerships and trading companies. Suffice it to mention the legal arguments of the Resolution transcribed in Part I of this article which, insofar as including references to the rights of one and the other and notification requirements which are analogously applicable to the relinquishment of a right in a multi-ownership community, may lead us to conclude that, also in these cases, the relinquishment is detrimental to the members themselves, so their consent needs to be obtained or, at least, they must be notified of the relinquishment in order to exercise the right of opposition and take any legal action to which they may be entitled (1705 CC).

In this sense, as with the community of multi-ownership, the effects of the relinquishment, if admitted, would accrue to the remaining members.

        2.- ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT SCHEMES AND CONTRACTS AFTER THE COMING INTO FORCE OF ACT 42/1998.

        A.- IN REM AND LEASEHOLD RIGHTS OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT.

        In this case we will refer to both in rem rights and personal leasehold rights constituted under the Rotational Enjoyment Act 42/1998, in force from 04/01/1999 until the coming into force of Royal Decree 8/2012 on 18th March which was subsequently repealed by Act 6/2012 on 8th July of the same year.

Both in rem and leasehold rights of rotational enjoyment are regulated by the three aforementioned sets of legal rules in essentially the same manner –or very similar in any event– so, for the purposes of this section, we will refer to them jointly.

 Having established, as indicated in Part I of this article, that every person is entitled to relinquish a right, and having also established the limitations to such a relinquishment of rights –that it may not be detriment to third parties or constitute an abuse of law-, we should now determine who would be prejudiced by the relinquishment in order to meet the indispensable requirements (i) of obtaining consent from the prejudiced party, or (ii) of serving notice on the prejudiced party so that the latter can formally oppose the relinquishment.

        In relation to the above, it would first be of interest to know whether the relinquished right becomes the property of the State or otherwise accrues to any of the parties involved in these schemes.

        Both in the case of in rem RERs and in the case of leasehold RERs, what is inappropriately referred to as ‘division of property’ takes place upon the constitution of the scheme:

  • In respect of the actual property on the one hand albeit without the use thereof, which by analogy in terms of in rem usufruct rights could be called “bare ownership”. Such ownership without entitlement to use the property continues to be held by the owner/developer of the property.
  • On the other hand, the “right of rotational enjoyment of the accommodation unit”, which could also be compared to ‘usufruct’ or ‘use and enjoyment’, although in this case the unit can only be occupied as tourist accommodation, whether for valuable consideration or gratuitously.

When the RER is constituted by public instrument, fee simple ownership is formally and legally broken down into the aforementioned rights and the two rights are at that moment held by the same owner and/or developer of the scheme, until the right of rotational enjoyment is transferred to a third party.

Contrary to what happens in the case of the in rem usufruct right, the law governing RERs (currently Act 4/2012, according to article 23.4, 3rd paragraph) provides that “the fact that an in rem right of enjoyment and the ownership, or a share thereof, are held by the same person, does not involve the expiry of the limited in rem right, which shall continue to exist during the whole lifetime of the scheme”. That is, even if the owner of the property should by any title re-acquire the RER, the RER will not expire.

Once the RER has been transferred to a third party, the latter becomes liable for the annual service or maintenance fees to the owner of the properties operated under the scheme, who is always accountable for the service even where the provision thereof has been contracted for with a third party. This is without prejudice to the existence of further obligations being taken on by the third-party owners of the RERs, e.g. by virtue of resolutions passed by the “community of RER holders”.

Obviously, the owner may not in any way pass on to the remaining RER holders what, as owner (not, therefore, as holder of title to the underlying property), they have the obligation to bear.

Consequently, the relinquishment of a right involves that a share becomes vacant which, in the case of an in rem right, is blended with the right from which it arises; that is, it would revert back to the developer (who would become liable for the fees) but the scheme would not expire until its termination.

DCITAMEN

The conclusion to be drawn is clear: the owner and/or developer is the prejudiced party, insofar as they recover ownership of the RER but also the obligations inherent therein. And, as prejudiced party, the developer could object to the relinquishment, so notice of the relinquishment must be served to enable the developer to express its opposition.

But, is the owner and/or developer of the scheme always the person to whom a detriment is caused by reason of ownership reverting back to it?

In relation to the quantification of the annual service fee, Article 30.1 of Act 4/2012 provides (as did the preceding regulations) that the RER Contract must express:

The price to be paid by the purchaser and the amount which, according to the regulatory deed, has to be paid after the purchase of the right on an annual basis to the services company or to the owner where the latter has taken on such a provision by virtue of the regulatory deed, in respect of which it shall be mentioned that such a price must be updated in accordance with the Retail Price Index published by the National Institute of Statistics except where any other updating system has been agreed by the parties –which may not be left to the discretion of either of them. Also, the average index over the preceding five years shall be mentioned to provide an approximate idea of its magnitude”.

From the above follows that there are two different ways of determining the fee on the basis of the amount reflected in the contract (and normally also in the rules and regulations of the scheme). The first one is the annual updating of the fee by application of the Retail Price Index, and the second one is any updating system which may be agreed on by the parties.

The second updating option was included in the Act at the proposal of ANETC-OTE (currently the Spanish Chapter of RDO), as it was felt that updating the fee during a 50-year period on the basis of the Retail Price Index was not realistic and would soon become outdated.

Therefore, the rule whereby <<another updating system>> is allowed opens the door toASAMBLEA what, by experience, was already considered a realistic updating formula, which is none other than the approval and implementation of an annual budget by the “community of right holders” and by the owner and/or developer or the services company respectively. Such a budget should contemplate all the expenses required to maintain the services (including the remuneration to be received by the service provider) against the income which, fundamentally, will come from the fees paid by the affiliates. This way, the fees to be paid by the affiliates are not determined at their discretion by the owner and/or developer or by the services company as the case may be.

However, this formula may entail a transfer of the RER holder’s obligation and, therefore, it may be detrimental to third parties in the event of relinquishment of their right, as if the cost of the service in its entirety is borne by the members “as a community”, then the debtor may well be the community itself or, at least, insofar as every RER holder is liable to the creditor (owner and/or developer or services company) and the income must be in line with the expenditure, the relinquishment of a RER may entail an increase of the fee payable by each member to cover what should have been paid by the relinquisher.

Obviously, it will be necessary to follow the rules of the “community of RER holders”, which may be freely determined with the sole exception of the majorities required for the passing of resolutions in each case. For any matters not envisaged by its own rules and regulations, the “rules applicable to communities of property owners under the Horizontal Property Act” are applicable on a subsidiary basis.

Also, the community may have other activities not included in what may be called the “provision of ordinary services”, such as the introduction of new facilities not legally mandatory (internet or any other which may be introduced in future, etc), the cost of which would be borne by the RER holders on a pro rata basis.

Consequently, I consider that the legal grounds of the DGRN Resolution may be applicable to: (i) the community of holders of in rem rights of rotational enjoyment, more clearly, and (ii) the community of leasehold RER rights, in terms of the detriment caused in both cases to the community and/or to its members by reason of the relinquishment, which would determine that consent from the community, or the service of notice thereof on the community to enable it to express its opposition, would be necessary for the relinquishment to be valid.

 B.- ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT RIGHTS OF A PERSONAL NATURE CONSTITUTED UNDER “NON-SPANISH” LAW.- THE ‘CLUB-TRUSTEE’ SYSTEM.

THE CLUBAlthough numerous RER schemes of a personal-associative nature in pursuance of predominantly Anglo-Saxon law –the so-called “Club-Trustee” system– were constituted before Act 42/1998, the actual change introduced by the new regulations of 2012 was that, while the preceding Act prohibited the constitution of any scheme other than those involving in rem or leasehold rights (although it did not go as far as to mention explicitly that the 1980 Rome Convention was not applicable in that case), the new Act recognised that, in addition to the two aforementioned formulas of in rem and leasehold rights, other formulas of an associative nature, with a merely contractual or binding content and subject to foreign law (of an EU State or otherwise), may be employed under (EC) Regulation no. 593/2008 on contractual obligations. This is doubtlessly an extremely important fact, as one of those schemes, i.e. the Club-Trustee system, which is normally subject to Anglo-Saxon laws, is still –and is expected to continue to be– one of the favourite systems for the future given its flexibility and the fact that it provides consumers and users with practical protection in several relevant aspects.

Schemes have been constituted on that basis to operate in Spain under the Club-Trustee formula to such an extent that this is currently the system adopted by a majority of operators.

For this reason, we need to consider whether the unilateral relinquishment of club affiliation rights or, in other words, the rights inherent therein to occupy tourist accommodation in Spain on a rotational basis, and the associated obligation for the member to bear the communal expenses, has to be compliant with the Spanish laws or must be subjected to those of the legislation under which they were constituted.

The provisions of the current (Spanish) RER Act 4/2012 are certainly applicable to rotational enjoyment schemes configured as a “Club-Trustee System” where these relate to property located in Spain or marketed from Spain, but only insofar as relating to the rules transposing Directive 2008/122/EC, which fundamentally refer to consumer data protection rules such as information to the consumer, withdrawal and termination right, prohibition of advanced payments and other rules concerning the marketing of the product.

But the aforementioned Directive does not address the issue of what the legal nature of the rights is or must be, as this falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the States.

The exclusive jurisdiction for substantive regulation of in rem and leasehold rights does certainly lie with the State where the property is located (hence in rem rights and the alternative leasehold rights of rotational enjoyment are exhaustively regulated by Act 4/2012). However, insofar as the right is configured as a merely personal, contractual and binding right, the above-mentioned Regulation (EC) no. 593/2008, which is an internal rule of Spanish Law as it is of the remaining States which have adopted it, allows the constitution of such personal or binding rights –even where they relate to property located in another State–, which are solely governed by the rules of the State to whose jurisdiction they are subject.

In the case of ‘Club-Trustee’ schemes, if the constitution is subject to British Law (for example’s sake), then the scheme –i.e. the Club– shall be substantively regulated by British rules, among them the rules governing the acquisition of club membership (namely the acquisition of this kind of rotational enjoyment right) and the forfeiture of such membership.

We therefore consider that the unilateral relinquishment of Club affiliation rights, whether to the detriment of the remaining club members or consented by the latter or otherwise, shall be valid or null as determined by British Law.

In this regard, Philip Broomhead (legal director of FNTC) states that:

Whether an owner, who owns timeshare in a club trust resort, can relinquish his ownership without penalty earlier than the stipulated termination date will normally depend on the provisions of the club’s constitution or rules or the agreed established practice at the club. 

The general rule is that an owner cannot relinquish his timeshare before the expiry of the club unless there is a specific provision allowing this within the constitution or rules. 

However some clubs, whether by historical practice or by agreement with the Club Committee or developer/management company, allow owners to relinquish their weeks provided all management fees are up to date.  Some clubs require that between one and three years’ future management fees are paid in advance before early relinquishment is allowed. 

In other circumstances, owners may be permitted to leave early where they have reached a certain age, or the owner or a partner is infirm or medically unable to travel or the owner or partner has been made redundant or bankrupt. In these latter scenarios, appropriate evidence will be required.  In all these situations, the management fees will at least have to be paid up to date.

 There are cement fees after a given period by treating the default as a substantial breach of the constitution or rules.  However this is not normally publicised and it happens only as a last resort where the club has pursued the owner with a number of reminders.  Where a club has a small number of owners, this is unlikely to be permitted because the burden of financing the defaulters is taken on by the small number of remaining owners who have to pay an ever increasing annual management fee to cover the defaulters.  In well-funded resorts where there is still a developer present, then cancellation is more likely to be tolerated as the developer can then take back the defaulted week and resell it or cover the management fees on the repossessed week by using them for marketing or rental purposes.  If there is no established practice or the rules or constitution doesn’t permit early termination, then the club may issue court proceedings against the owner for breach of contract for the non-payment of management fees and then, on obtaining a court judgment, the club may pursue recovery of the debt through various legal means open to it.lubs which simply cancel members who have not paid their current year’s manag

 In all these circumstances it is important for the owner to consider the rules or constitution carefully to see what is permitted or to look at any agreed adopted practice of the club regarding relinquishment before actually doing so.    

 SOL BRILLANTE

FINAL CONCLUSION:

As previously indicated, given the great variety of systems which have been or may be constituted in future, we have analysed those which have been most commonly used to date. In respect of all of them, and of all those which have not been analysed, the conclusions to be drawn, in my view, are as follows:

  1. Covenants and contracts must be honoured by the parties who freely consented to them.

This is the reason why the consumer protection rules of Directive 2008/122/EC, implemented in all the EU States, focus primarily on protecting the consumers at the moment of giving their consent, which consent must be free (without aggressive sales practices), informed (pre-contractual information document) and pondered (14-day free withdrawal period during which no advanced payments may be made).

  1. Also to be protected are the rights of all the other parties, such as the developer of the scheme and the services company, hence the person who has already become a user of rotational enjoyment rights may only “relinquish their right unilaterally and abdicatively” where no detriment is thereby caused to third parties or, if it is, where the prejudiced third party’s consent is obtained or the latter does not formally oppose the relinquishment where applicable.

 Francisco J. Lizarza_MG_7643

 Lizarza Abogados                                                                                   

Marbella, January 2015

2014: THE BEST YEAR OF INCOME IN SPAIN TOURIST

While on January 21st 2014 we provided figures concerning the number of tourists visiting Spain in 2013 according to TourSpain, we are now reporting on the TOTAL EXPENDITURE IN SPAIN by those tourists during the past year.

Gifs Animados Turistas 7

The total expenditure by international tourists in 2013 amounted to 59,082 million euros, which constitutes a year-on-year increase of 9.6% and has resulted in 5,152 million euros more. This figure, which is the highest ever reached in the EGATUR (Tourist Expenditure Survey) series, has been a result of both an increase in the number of tourists (5.6%) and in their average expenditure (3.7%), which reached the sum of 976 euros. The average daily expenditure, on its part, reached the sum of 109 euros, which is a 3.3% increase over 2012. The Nordic, British and French markets made the highest contribution to the net increase recorded in Catalonia and the Canaries, the regions that benefited the most from this. In terms of year-on-year rates, Russia and China stood out with respective growths of 28.9% and 27.1%.

MARKETS OF ORIGIN

With 570 million euros and a 28.4% growth, Germany took the lead as the biggest market for tourist expenditure. Its average expenditure experienced strong increases: 8.4% in average expenditure per person and 11.1% in average daily expenditure.

United Kingdom concentrated 16% of the total expenditure, which amounted to 504 million euros, the exact same increase as that experienced by the number of tourists: 20.2%. The Canary Islands was its main destination, with 50% of the total expenditure.

The increase in expenditure by tourists from the Nordic Countries (17.6%) was much higher than the growth in number of tourists (12.1%) owing to their increased average expenditure per person (4.9%), which was among the highest: 1,261 euros. The Canaries received seven out of every ten euros.

Despite an increased number of tourists, France saw a decrease in total expenditure (-9.6%) as a result of a drop in average expenditure per person (-21.7%). Catalonia was the region worst affected by this.

TURISMO ESPAÑA

For the second month in a row, United States ranked fifth in most important markets, with a global figure of 125 million euros and a year-on-year variation rate of –4.8%.

As for the remaining markets, they all saw a general increase with the exception of Portugal. Of especial note is the good performance of the Netherlands and Russia.

TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, 

Meliá Castilla de noche

Regarding the type of accommodation, it is worth noting the increase in hotel establishments (25.8%), which received 62% of the total expenditure.

ORGANISATION OF THE TRIP AND REASON FOR TRAVELLING

Regarding the type of accommodation, it is worth noting the increase in hotel establishments (25.8%), which received 62% of the total expenditure.

to-de-malaga_44179

As for the organisation of the trip, both modalities experienced strong increases: 14.7% in the case of tourists without a holiday package and 18.7% in the case of those on a holiday package.

Eight out of every ten euros came from leisure travelling, which has seen an increase of 17.2%.

Source: TourSpain