Should owners of empty homes cut off their water and electricity supplies? (Final part)

In these last two weeks we were looking at the dilemma of cutting off the companies' services of our empty property or of a property that it is only occupied for a short period of the year.


Is it worth it or is it better to just pay the minimum bills and keep the house connected?


The annual price of just keeping supplies connected could be as much 450€ per year.


To cut off supplies involves a series of steps concerning an expenditure of time and money. While, keeping the minimum cost of all basic supplies connected in an empty house can amount to about 450 Euros a year.


We also concluded that there may be problems when reconnecting services such as water and electricity as we may faced with complicated bureaucratic paperwork and what it is worse "expensive" outlays to pay for official electrical bulletin or defective electrical installation that must be put right before a new reconnection is allowed.



In Spain there are almost two million families (1.8 million homes) in buildings with community heating systems. Community heating has certain advantages it save money if you live during the winter months in the house, but if you are away, you are paying for something you do not obtain any benefits from. Thus, when the heating is centralized within the whole building (block of flats), but the house is empty, you have to keep paying the charges. However, if you have your own private central heating, you can unsubscribe from the supply.

In order to allocate costs among consumers, a new European directive will force all communities of owners with central heating installation to install individual meters before December 31, 2016. Additionally, if you cannot afford to install energy thermal meters, calorimeters or some sort of costs discriminator for each radiator at a price of 20 Euros each.



According to the operator, a new telephone line can be free, if there is a commitment to stay for six months or longer. Most operator don´t have lines or maintenance charges. Anyway, to have a home landline over long periods of the year can be a superfluous expense, especially now that there are mobile phones.


Unavoidable fixed costs of empty properties.

Although you may terminate some supplies contracts, the owner of an empty apartment cannot avoid paying various taxes that are linked to real property:


Community of owners:

The expenses linked to neighbourhood communities are established according to the associated services provided and the size of common areas enjoyed, and could accounts for a high proportion of expenditure on an empty house. For a house of 80 square meters in the centre of a largish city, without common elements such as elevator, the monthly charge amounts to about 75 Euros.


In any case, we must take into account unforeseen expenses to repair unexpected damages that may increase monthly charges that you have to pay, although not residing in the property. There are many communities of owners that may include additional costs, such as bills for communal heating and irrigation water, which may involve an annual expenditure of up to 900 Euros.


The IBI (Property Tax):

It is the second largest amount paid by homeowners which penalise ownership of any property held by an individual. The amount is normally calculated based on the assessed value of the property. The IBI is between 0.4% and 1.10% of the assessed value, so the average payout per owner is about 500 Euros per year, without taking onto account additional spaces such as garages or storage rooms. If the house has any of this added, the cost may increase by another 120 Euros.


To all this, rubbish tax, which has been introduced in many municipalities could represent an average payout of 40 Euros to be added to the rest of expenses.


Home insurance:

Only 65% of properties in Spain have home insurance. Depending on what you want to ensure, whether just the house (or contents) and taking into consideration the company with which the insurance is been contracted with, the cost may varies. However, for an empty flat, it is usual to contract out the minimum coverage, which is around 200 Euros per year.


Rental or ownership?

So dear friends as it can be seen from these series of articles it is wise to take the calculator out and start doing sums. In this equation one important factor to be taken into account is the minimum period you intend to occupy the future property because the arithmetic may gravitate to a rental rather than an ownership.


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As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog, all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.

Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.