Following the Spanish law on housing ownership a meeting hast o take place once a year, usually on the premises. It is common that these meetings are held in the first months of the year. Some statutes even state the exact date. In the following article we have a closer look at those rules.
The following summarized and simplified information does not claim to be complete or replace professional advice, but rather should serve as food for thought.
WHEN DO THE OWNER MEETINGS TAKE PLACE?
As above mentioned, meetings take place once a year to present last year’s accountings, set the budget for the current year, and to vote for the board members.
These meetings are often chaotic and lengthy. Therefore, the president together with the lawyer and/or translator should be aware of the time and stop chatterboxes. The present lawyer is a neutral moderator who makes sure that
a) every owner is heard
b) the agenda is kept short, objective, complete, and free of emotions
c) no illegal or legally not feasible decisions are made
Only an owner can become president. As such he leads the community, organizes the meetings, and finally carries out the decisions agreed on at the owner’s meeting. Members stay on the board until they are voted off during another meeting.
A lawyer supports the committee with legal questions and prevents them from intimidations and misleading of some owners’ private lawyers. It is their purpose to find decisions suitable for the majority of owners and to mediate. Also, they are responsible that all decisions made comply with the law.
Besides the legal general meeting, the president can convene as many extraordinary meetings as necessary. In case that at least a quarter of all owners request in WRITING a meeting, the board must fulfill that request. In case not, either the owners themselves or a court can convene it.
They have to be sent out at least 6 days before the meeting if not otherwise stated in the statutes, and be signed by president and secretary. They should contain the agenda, date, place, and time of the meeting. Also, the list of debtors will be sent with it. The language is Spanish and any other language is not obligatory unless otherwise and binding stated in the statutes.
Although the president defines the agenda, all owners have the right to propose more points before the invitation is sent out. The president has to include those into the agenda even if he does not agree with them. It is clear that only things that can be decided on at an owner’s meeting may be included.
Common points for the agenda are:
a) Welcoming the owners present, represented, and eligible to vote
b) Report of the president (maybe reading of last year’s protocol)
c) Last year’s accounting
d) Budget for the coming year and monthly fee
e) Vote of the committee
f) Owner’s requests (made before invitation was sent)
g) Questions and propositions to the committee
h) Date for next meeting
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO SPEAK?
All owners have the right to speak, but only those free of debt can vote. This is also true for the legally authorized representative. Although a debtor cannot vote, they can become a committee member and even the president. However, this is not very smart, because they should rather be sued.
During these meetings harsh criticism is allowed, however, personal insults are not and can be prosecuted with a criminal charge.
Meetings must be held in the official language Spanish, unless all owners have decided unanimously for another language in order to guarantee a democratic vote for decisions. Owners communities with many foreigner who do not speak Spanish often contract a multilingual lawyer for translations and interpretations.
Double majority is required. It consists of majority of owners and majority of shares (in the land registry registered shares). This prevents that owners of more apartments automatically have the majority of votes. For some decisions, however, the law asks for even bigger majorities and in some cases even unanimity.
PROTOCOLS AND DESICIONS
Usually, the secretary writes the protocol, however, often an administrator takes care of this, and in any case a lawyer has to approve it. The official protocol should be written in Spanish (if needed it will be translated), signed by president and secretary, and registered in the official book of the community.
Besides the points mentioned in the invitation, results of the votes and decisions have to be written down in accordance with certain rules to minimize legal invalidity. The protocol should be sent to the owners within 10 days.
These can only be done by a lawyer and should be done quickly since the statutory periods are very short. Personal letter of complaints have no legal effect.