Making Land Registry information available in English could make matters worse for the Spanish property market instead of better, according to an overseas property lawyer.
Peter Esders, solicitor at Chebsey & Co., told OPP in a letter that more information being made available online in English leaves him “anticipating problems”.
“I am worried about the fact that more information is being given in English online at the Land Registry,” he said.
“Unscrupulous sellers will tell buyers that they don’t need a lawyer because there are land registry searches available in English and they can supply a notary at the end.”
“Buyers trying to keep costs down will cut corners by trying to do the legal work themselves,” he added. “If they start doing this then we will continue to have purchases going wrong, which will in turn continue to affect confidence in the Spanish legal system, rather than improve it.”
On one hand you immediately jump into agreeing with him. Thousands of people have been affected by inconsistencies in Spanish property law, and the last thing the market needs is people guddling about in it trying to do things themselves to save money.
On the other, not everyone who has seen their dreams pulled out from under them has suffered because of the inconsistencies of the legal system, many have been duped or been the victims of fraud at the hands of unscrupulous lawyers, or duped by criminal agents who supply their recommended translators and solicitors all complicit in the fraud.
So, with that in mind, at least if the details are available in English it will make it harder for the scammers to make false claims as to property ownership and such things, in the knowledge that now this information can easily be checked by the buyers. Also, this opens up the potential for British lawyers to become fully versed in Spanish property law, and this will down-the-line allow British buyers to use a British lawyer to buy property in Spain.
In any case, the best advice is that buyers continue to proceed as we always have, get a lawyer who is expert in Spanish law, with a translator if necessary, but check all the details at the land registry for yourself as well. This will make it very difficult for anyone trying to pull the wool over your eyes.