Notarial deeds during Coronavirus confinement.
Royal Decree 463/2020 of the 14th March 2020 declaring the State of Alarm throughout Spain has placed Spain in a halt. As you may know, any person residing or currently travelling through Spain needs to stay confined at home until the prohibition is lifted. It is only possible to leave the house or accommodation in very limited and specific cases such as buying groceries, medicines, taking care of elder relatives or dependents or, in certain professions, to work. This means that legal contracts such as the contract to purchase a property will get affected, mainly because Notary Publics, who are required to draft the deed of sale and purchase, are also affected by the Spanish Government´s measures.
What happens if I was buying a property and I was about to complete? According to the resolution of the 18th March 2020 from the Society of Notaries in Spain, Notaries will only deal with those transactions that are urgent. It is up to the Notary to decide whether the matter in question is urgent or not. Any person interested in completing a transaction will have to contact the chosen Notary Public by email and explain their situation and any relevant deadlines that may affect the transaction. It is then the Notary who will decide whether there are sufficient grounds to justify the signing of the required deed. Notary Official Communication
If you were in the process of completing your sale or purchase in Spain, your lawyer or the estate agent should contact the local Notary Public (or the Notary you have chosen to prepare the deeds as there is no obligation to choose the closest Notary to the property) by email and ask whether the Notary can prepare the deed of sale and purchase. If the Notary accepts, he/she will ensure that all those intervening parties comply with the current rules and regulations in terms of space, attire and protection i.e. he/she may force those attending to keep a 1.5 m distance between themselves and to wear masks and gloves.
It could also be the case that the Notary does not consider that there is sufficient urgency to justify the signing of the deeds and compromising the health of those attending. Should that happen, you can contact another Notary who depending on his or her capacity and criteria, may or may not accept to prepare the deeds.
As you can see an “ad hoc”, case by case, basis is applied while the confinement measures and period apply in Spain. As always, professional advice should be sought when unsure as to the legal frame and current implications.
However, and based on what medical experts currently recommend, do not take unnecessary risks. If your sale and purchase is not urgent and you are not threaten with a potential breach of contract for not completing on time, then post-pone completion. And if you are selling then don´t forget to get tax advice on the consequences of selling your Spanish property!
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