What is the horizontal division of a building?

Lectura 4 min

Horizontal property or horizontal division is the name given in Spain to the ownership regime of a property in which there are plots with different owners. These owners have sole ownership over parts of the building and share ownership of several communal areas.

Horizontal property is different to vertical property, which is the system in which the entire property belongs to one owner, although it may be owned by several co-owners without exclusive ownership of any part of the property, while horizontal property belongs to several different people.

It is important to know how horizontal property works in Spain, since most people live in properties regulated under this legal regime.

Consequences of the horizontal division regime

The most obvious is the existence of private areas (owned by only one owner) and communal areas, co-owned by the inhabitants of the building. The most typical example would be a residential building where the residents are private owners of their apartments, but share the ownership of communal areas such as stairways, lifts, entrance doorways, boiler rooms, etc.

How does the horizontal division of the building affect us?

Legal regulations are not fond of ambiguities, which is normal, since good laws seek to prevent conflicts from arising. Therefore, it is mandatory to carry out the horizontal division of a property that will have different private owners.

This horizontal division before the land registry will identity the owners and the limits of each of their properties. The instrument provided to prove the ownership of the private areas of the property is the horizontal property deed.

This tool works in our favour, since it recognises our property, its benefits, our rights and obligations. All matters relating to this property regime are regulated by the Horizontal Property Law, which regulates the constitution of the Board of Proprietors and sets out rules with a view to protecting coexistence and administration.

Documentation required to register a horizontal division

Both to file the original deeds of horizontal division and to modify the existing ones, you will need to go to a notary. You will be asked to provide different documents depending on whether it is the horizontal division of a building that has already been constructed or if it is currently under construction.

In the latter case, the developer and builder will want to construct a residential building with the intention of selling the properties separately. The notary will request:

  • The Building permit, which must have all the requirements in order.
  • The building project. In this way, you don’t have to wait until the construction is finished to register the horizontal separation.

In the case of a horizontal division of a property that already has one, the notary will request the following documentation:

  • The original deed of the horizontal division.
  • Administrative authorisation. It is a license issued by the council, which means that, if construction work needs to be carried out for the horizontal separation process, the division project must be signed off by a technician.
  • The surface area certificate. A specialised technician must delimit the parts of the property, separating the private and the communal areas.
  • The approval of the majority of owners (at least three-fifths of the Board of Proprietors).
  • Certificate of payment of taxes due for the horizontal division (Stamp Duty).

Horizontal division of a property

It may be the case that we want to horizontally divide a house into several flats with a view to selling them separately, however, we are the only owner of the house. In this case, it would not be necessary to put it to the Board of Proprietors, since there are no co-owners. In any case, there will be one once the deed of horizontal division has been modified and the plots have been sold to the new owners.

This would also be the case if we divide a property to create two houses. The project must be signed by a specialised technician in accordance with the regulations in force.

This is a relatively common situation with properties designed decades ago, which makes it necessary to modify the horizontal division of an old building. To do this, we must first obtain the deed to be modified.

Obtain the horizontal division deed

If there is a licensed property administrator, he/she may well have a copy of this deed, or at least know how to get it. In any case, we can always go to the local Land Registry. In this official registry, by law, the horizontal division deed that we need must be recorded. Once the notary draws up the new horizontal division deed, it will be communicated to the corresponding Land Registry and to the Real Estate Tax Registry .

To sum up, horizontal division and its deed are legal tools to delimit real estate properties whose use and knowledge facilitates the enjoyment of our rights as owners and the acknowledgement of the obligations set forth in the regulations in force.

Artículos relacionados