Since getting involved in legal action pertaining to unfinished-or-never-started-developments (e.g. by Ochando S.A., Promociones Eurohouse S.L. and Grupo San José Construcciones e Inversiones S.A.), one thing that I have found rather incomprehensible, from the perspective of a law firm actively pursuing the return of off-plan deposits, which should have been placed “in escrow” or backed by a bank guarantee, is the inconsistent and conflicting information on points of law that is being circulated by all manner of participants (lawyers, developers, group actions, banks, internet forums etc.).
But aside from the many interpretations, one can give to whether a credit should be ordinary, privileged or none at all, within the receivership/insolvency proceedings, or whether you should have terminated your contract on, before or after the developer did some or other action through the mercantile courts (all of which baffles me significantly), or that you are, or aren’t, or perhaps may be entitled to 40, 50 or 60% of your deposit in a number of years to come, what is clear to me is one thing: a consumer’s deposit for a property in, say, La Fortuna Golf is not and never to be used to pay for a topographical surveyor’s outstanding invoice on, say, Residencial San Pedro del Pinatar, looking after the salary of some night guard at Residencial San Pedro or more annoyingly, a plumber to fix some piping problem at the mansion of a company director.
Property developing companies have two options when handling off-plan buyers’ deposits: either keeping them in safe custody and not use them save for the needs of the specific development, and if not used return them fully, or provide a bank guarantee: there are no more options. Dragging bona fide consumers through a receivership procedure alongside electrical suppliers, cement subcontractors, real estate agents, the Spanish Social Security or the Spanish Inland Revenue seems not the right thing to do, particularly where it is the deposits of off-plan buyers who are earmarked to satisfy the debt of all others, related or not to the development in question.
Current case law does not envisage any other use for those funds, certainly not have them used for purposes not allowed to by law. Which means that these developers should be, in my opinion, encouraging, guiding and assisting off-plan property buyers in cashing bank guarantees to precisely avoid the aggravation of their already difficult situation, i.e. the transformation of these civil disputes (contractual default) to an action for criminal swindle and misappropriation, which entails serving time, particularly on those developments where nothing has been built (on others with a certain percentage built, advice would have to be on a case-by-case basis).