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Coronavirus Crisis: How Does it Affect Rental and Mortgages Loans in Spain?

March 26th, 2020

Hand drawn vector illustration of Wuhan corona virus, covid-19. Closed hanging sign with virus.

The COVID-19 or “Corona Virus” has brought about new situations of potential legal conflict that we could have not even imagined before. With shops closing temporarily, airlines and hotels coming to a complete standstill and the curfew affecting the mobility of people, the fulfilment of thousands of contracts is now in question by reasons well beyond the particular circumstances of the intervening parties.

So can the parties pull out, suspend, adapt or terminate contracts of continuous performance? Royal Decree 8/2020 of the 17th of March 25 has not dealt with the consequences of the Corona outbreak, save for a moratorium on mortgage loans for those classed as vulnerable.

This said, let’s see what the various situations any renter or property owner can find themselves in.

Rental Agreements

The Government has not addressed these contracts (as of 25/3/2019) and therefore, principles of civil law must be applied. There are two:

  • Fuerza Mayor or Force Majeure. It’s French for “superior force”. The long and short of it is that if some expected event of such caliber takes place that prevents the parties from performing an obligation, the performance of that obligation is excused.Articles 1105, 1182, 1184 and 1258 of the Spanish Civil Code state that “Acts of God and Force Majeure liberate debtors from fulfilling their obligations due to superior force”.
  • Rebus sic stantibus et aliquid novo non emergentibus is the legal doctrine allowing for a contract or a treaty to become inapplicable because of a fundamental change of circumstances. This is similar to force majeure but touches on fairly distinct considerations:
    1. There is incident of such magnitude that alters the bases of the contract
    2. Such incident frustrates the “commercial sense” of the contract and
    3. Breaks the balance of a contract and produces damage to one party due to supervening circumstances that could have not been contemplated in the contract or are alien to normal contractual risk analysis.

The consequence of applying these principles would be that contract gets “frozen” in time, suspended of its effects for the parties.

The downside to any impending legal conflict is the time and expense of a Court procedure, unless parties to a contract can reach individual agreements in the wake of what is an unprecedented situation.

Mortgage Loans

The moratorium offered by the Government will only apply to borrowers that are deemed to be in a situation of vulnerability, and this will happen only if (all) of the following occur:

  • The property must be the main dwelling.
  • To be unemployed or if self-employed, to have lost at least 40% of the sales.
  • The combined income of the family should not exceed €1,600 (3 times the IPREM).
  • And only if the loan repayment is over 35% of the net income.

The documents and procedures the state will require are family book, tax certificate confirming the reduction of activity, property deeds and once this has been reviewed by the bank, it needs to go to be ratified before a Notary Public.

For mortgage loans not contemplated by the Royal Decree 8/2020 of the 17th of March 25, the above noted civil law principles on rental contracts could be applied here too.

Are you in any of these situations? Contact us, we can help.

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