This article considers the legal procedures which protect buyers when they purchase a property with serious faults which were concealed by the vendor when the property was transferred at notary.
It is a legal issue covered by article 1,484 of the Spanish Civil Code and comes into play when a property is acquired and serious problems or construction faults are discovered which were not evident when the property was inspected before purchase.
To be able to take legal action, the faults in the property must be of such a magnitude that once the buyer is aware of them, s/he considers the property unsuitable for use, or that its usefulness has been reduced to such an extent that the purchase would have been abandoned, or a lower price negotiated if the faults had been known beforehand.
In any event, such legal action can only be taken in private transactions between individuals, and not when a newly built property is acquired from a promoter, because in such cases consumer laws are applicable.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that once a hidden fault is discovered, the buyer has ONLY SIX MONTHS from the transfer of possession to take legal action.
We therefore have two options:
The first option is to ask the Court to require the vendor to return the purchase price plus acquisition costs, the property itself being handed back to the former owner. If we can also show that the vendor acted with full knowledge of the faults, we can request compensation and damages.
The second option is to ask for a reduction of the price corresponding to a professional valuation of the hidden faults and defects to be repaired.
If the six month period has elapsed, other legal actions derived from contract law are still available like, for example, legal action to cancel the purchase contract on the grounds of the vendor’s failure to comply with the corresponding reclamation of damages, or legal action to annul the contract for error or fraud on the part of the vendor.