Those of you who form part of a community of owners in your building block or urbanization know for a fact that It is very rare that everyone agrees on a single decision or a proposal in your annual meetings.
In most cases, there are a lot of arguing and disagreements involved in making decisions. It is in such a context that the words consensus and unanimity come to light. Consensus refers to a general agreement. On the other hand, unanimity refers to a situation where everyone agrees upon a single decision. This is the key difference between the two words and what could make living in a community of owners a hell.
This status quo may disappear for ever
Last 25th of September, the Spanish Government presented a proposal that seeks to change the regulations with respect to “unanimity” at communities of owners’ meetings. In principle, the requirement of unanimity would be reduced by achieving a three-fifths majority.
In this article I will explain the new measure and its application as I understand it, nonetheless please take into account that I am an architect and not a solicitor.
The communities of owners will be able to make major decisions with a majority of three fifths, without the need for unanimity in the voting.
Stopping the proliferation of tourist housing and its consequences, to install a lift or not, to have a physical concierge, place a ramp at the entrance of the building. There are many issues that are resolved each year in the meetings of owners and, in many, the proposals do not prosper by a single vote against. This new law tries to prevent an entire community from being hostage to a vote and to strengthen the consensus among neighbours.
No to the dictatorship of a single neighbour
In an urbanization of say 80 dwellings, with the current regulation it is necessary that the 80 owners are against or in favour of a proposal to be able to carry it out or not a major reform. A single vote against can thwarts that initiative. But with this new law that the Spanish Government is now proposing, it would only be necessary for 48 owners, (3/5) of the total number of owners to back it. If it is a property of few owners (10, for example).
The Spanish Government suggests, in principle, a three-fifths majority and that is what is being proposed in the draft new Horizontal Property Law (HPL).
Goodbye to unanimity: a measure to stop the touristic apartments?
Touristic apartments are creating numerous conflicts in the communities of owners, and even within whole districts where they proliferate more. It is no secret that, behind the need to end unanimity in the votes of the communities of owners, lies the desire to put an end to the excesses of these apartments. There is a popular outcry that demands the regulation of touristic flats, this issue should be done with an overall vision, although this requires a lot of time and the participation of all the sectors involved I am sure.
The decision to eliminate unanimity will not only affect the issue of touristic flats. There are many decisions of the communities that, today, arise discrepancies and are being postponed for years for not having unanimity: installing video cameras, making a reforms in the entrance hall. That is why it is not strange that all the autonomous regions in Spain are favourable to change the Horizontal Property Law to reduce the necessary majority for the taking of any type of decisions.
With measures such as the suppression of the second call to the general annual meeting, the possibility of holding virtual meetings, something that many expats will welcome, the suppression of the president's approval certifying the minutes of the meeting, the possibility of establishing special quotas for the intensive use of common elements by some within buildings and urbanization are items that may be introduced in the New Law of Horizontal Property that is coming.
Are the new agreements retroactive?
Owners who think that by changing majorities in voting will get rid of the tourist flats that are in your building can be in for a surprise.
This has happened in Cataluña, where the Superior Court of Justice has ruled that "the statutes of a community of owners prohibiting the touristic apartments in the building do not affect the continuity of the houses that already functioned as such before the restrictions were approved". That is, the new agreements cannot be applied to those who bought before reaching those agreements and voted against.
You can’t win it al!!