Property Jargon Explained

When buying or selling a property in Spain, the property jargon used can often seem overwhelming as lawyers and agents go into property speak. Understanding a few basic property terms can make the process a lot easier. It will empower you to ask the right questions and find the necessary documents required. 


The Escritura is the equivalent to Title Deeds.  If purchasing a property, this is signed at the notary, on the day of completion.  The Escritura is an official document. It is a detailed, lengthy document that encompasses property details, owner and buyer details, registration and charges and debts outstanding.   A “Copia Simple” is a copy of your escritura.

Nota Simple

A Nota Simple is an essential registration document. Whether buying or selling a property in Spain, a Nota Simple is a great starting point and the one document you should definitely have.  In the video below, I show you how to read a Nota Simple. I will explain what information you can get from a Nota Simple

Video on How to Read and Understand a Nota Simple

It is important not to confuse a “Copia Simple” with a “Nota simple” A  Nota Simple is a certificate of the property issued by the land registry. It is normally a few pages long and includes technical property information such as the description, registered square metres, property owner details and any debts and charges against the property (such as mortgages). A professional agent will need to have an up to date Nota Simple on file. 

A Nota Simple is only valid for 3 months.  If you do not have one, your agent /lawyer can order one for you.  To do this, they will need the finca number of your property which you will find under the registration section of your escritura.

Licencia de Primer Ocupación (LPO)

Licence of first Occupation.   This  licence deems the property fit for habitation. It is imperative that you have a licence of occupation for your property.  Do not panic if you do not have one – many villas built around 20 years ago often do not have a licence, as at the time, it was not a physical requirement.  If you are a homeowner though, and wish to sell, you do need to get one in order to complete. Your agent will be able to point you in the right direction, and whilst time consuming, it is something that can be sorted.  If you do wish to sell your property, our advice would be to immediately start the process of acquiring a license so that it does not delay or stop any sale you have in the future, from progressing.  

Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI)

The IBI is an annual property tax, very similar to Council Tax in the UK. The amount you pay in IBI will depend on where your property is located and in what municipality it is located in.  On the day of signing, the IBIs must be paid up to date.

Basura Tax

This is the tax for Rubbish collection. In some municipalities, it is included within the IBI tax whereas in others, it is a separate tax.  

Certificación energética de edificios (CEE)

Energy Performance Certificate – From June 2013, it became law to present an energy performance certificate when selling a property.  For anyone selling a property that they bought prior to this date, they will need to contract a technical expert to obtain one.  

Gastos de Comunidad y Macro Comunidad

Most properties in Spain are part of an urbanisation or community.  The community collectively hire an administrator who then ensure the smooth running of the communal facilities, such as gardens, pools etc.  The community fee is the monthly maintenance fee that you pay for this upkeep.

Some communities are part of a bigger or macro community.  Sometimes you will need to pay a fee to the macro community which will account for street lighting, maintenance of the roads and area.

Your lawyer should ensure that the community and macro-community, where applicable, issues a certificate on the day of signing to guarantee that all community fees are paid to date, so that to ensure that the property is purchased debt-free.