IN our previous column, we discussed a number of “law” urban legends believed by both expats and locals. Here we discuss a few more:
Squatters have rights: This idea has been thrown around many times, without legal backing. Squatters have no title to property and can be evicted…but always through the Courts.
Verbal rental contracts don’t exist: if anything, a rental agreement exists the moment the tenant makes one rental payment. Where no term was agreed, the contract will be deemed agreed for at least 1 year (and can be extended to 3 at the tenant’s discretion).
Contracts not in Spanish are void: I cannot count how many times I have heard this. According to Spanish legal practice, any language that is recognized as official in any country of the world is good for a contract; the reason is that it can be ‘officially’ translated by a registered interpreter.
“Without prejudice” law phrase in a letter: In some countries, when used in a document or letter, without prejudice means that what follows (a) cannot be used as evidence in a court case, (b) cannot be taken as the signatory’s last word on the subject or c) cannot be used as a precedent. In Spain, such a phrase has no legal significance. The only exception are letter or other communications between lawyers, which are by statute “without prejudice” and can never be used as evidence in a Court of law.
You could be arrested if you have debts: Article 1 of Protocol No. 4 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, of which Spain is a signatory country, states the following: “Prohibition of imprisonment for debt: no one shall be deprived of his liberty merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation”. Joining this treaty means that you return to Spain having debts here, you will never be arrested at an airport.