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New limitation period for actions to reclaim community fees owed from defaulters

A good law firm should keep its case law references up to date. That is to say, the interpretation of the laws made, in their respective fields, by the highest national and regional courts.

This is the case of the statute of limitations for legal actions or lawsuits that can be brought against defaulters of residents’ associations. It has been established by Ruling of the Second Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, NUM. 242/2020, of 3 June. This is a fundamental text that a good law firm in Madrid, as in other cities and municipalities in Spain, should use for these matters.

The problem of community defaulters, and the property law lawyer

The current statute of limitations for these legal actions is something that real estate lawyers should bear in mind. The term established by the Supreme Court has been shortened more than considerably with respect to the previous one.

If previously a period of 15 years was applied, the current one is 5 years. When it comes to contacting a lawyer online or in person, it is essential to know that the time limit is 10 years shorter than before.

The purpose of this Supreme Court cassation ruling was to put an end to the discrepancies between Provincial Courts, discrepancies that unnecessarily entangled the situation.

To do so, the Civil Code has been used. Article 1966, section 3, clearly establishes a period of five years for actions to be barred by the statute of limitations. In this particular section, reference is made to actions to satisfy certain obligations.

The paragraph reads as follows: «that of any other payments to be made in years or in shorter periods». This is what is known in legal lexicon as an open clause. And the Supreme Court has interpreted that the obligations of the members of a community of property owners’ association fall under this clause.

This is a jurisprudential interpretation that should be known in detail in a good law firm. Fundamentally in those specialised in Civil and Real Estate Law, as well as in Horizontal Property.

Therefore, a lawyer in Spain should not allow more than 5 years to elapse from the claim of the debt in order to be able to collect it.

In International Real Estate Law and in terms of comparative law, this problem of defaulters in neighbouring communities is very common.

And in our country, a lawyer for foreigners may also have to deal with this type of situation of non-payment in neighbouring communities.

The problem is also extremely frequent in law firms in areas with a high level of real estate and tourist activity. For example, a law firm in Alicante often has to deal with these issues.

Likewise, a law firm on the Costa Blanca, or a law firm in Murcia, etc.

The real estate lawyer and the Supreme Court doctrine

As we have already seen, even immigration lawyers may have to deal with this type of problem. But it should also be noted that the Supreme Court has continued to rule on the matter.

The doctrine has been reiterated in two rulings in 2021. Thus, by Ruling 182/2021, of 30 March and subsequently by the Plenary of the Civil Chamber, S 04-11-2021, no. 769/2021.

These rulings, which are so important for legal and tax advice in this specific area, state the following:

  • It is a matter of preventing homeowners’ associations from being harmed by a serious accumulation of debts.
  • The reduction of the limitation period can be beneficial for the rest of the co-owners of the community.

Finding good lawyers specialised in neighbourhood associations in order to be able to claim the community fees owed from the defaulters.

Finally, when approaching a law firm such as Imont Legal & Taxes for issues related to delinquency in homeowners’ associations, it should be considered that:

  • They are lawyers specialised in civil and real estate matters, who know in detail the Horizontal Property legislation and the Supreme Court Doctrine. Specialist lawyers are essential for a quality service.
  • They should be a law firm specialising in Real Estate Law, with a solid track record and experience in this type of problem.


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