By Antonio Flores
A ROW between the police and government is threatening to discourage hundreds of potential property buyers from taking the plunge.
It comes after the government ruled that the obligatory NIE number needed to buy a house can no longer be aquired by a third party.
This means that personal attendence is now mandatory and lawyers can no longer do this job for a client.
I mean can you imagine Russian millionaire Roman Abramovich having to queue up at 6am in order to get his form? Can you see a celebrity or footballer having to turn up at their local police station in order to buy a house?
Trooping back and forwards, paying the fee in the bank?
The consequences could be devastating for some buyers who might feel that Spain is not a country worth investing in if you need to go through such beaurocratic hoops.
And it is not just buying property. Setting up a business, signing up for a job and many other legal matters, people just don’t deserve this third-world treatment.
Worse than that, in Madrid, a city that aspires to become a European financial hub, you can expect a three month wait for an appointment to apply for the NIE.
Also, there is a total lack of uniformity in what documentation is required: some police stations in the Costa Blanca are asking for notarised documents of the property one wishes to buy, while others will accept a reservation contract and proof of payment of deposit.
The random nature of documentation requirements is perplexing to professionals and unbearable to investors.
Spanish Consulates, not particularly equipped to assist investors, have been commissioned to process applications and return an NIE number within five working days, a tall order for some such offices not used to dull admin work.
And that is if you have a consulate nearby. Cost-cutting has meant the Spanish Government is to close many (Manchester and Hamburg to name two), so if you happen to be a billionaire currently in Vladivostok or a footballer in Cheshire you might decide to buy elsewhere.
The property industry is dismayed by what are probably the weirdest, craziest and most idiotic laws around Europe, and we are all hoping that as with most things, common sense will ultimately prevail.