Saturday, 14 May 2011

Viva Espana

They say life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans and today I wholeheartedly subscribe to this observation.  In the space of hour I have visited my eighty four year old Mum, called in on a friend for a coffee, told my lodger Daryl not to leave rotting stinking food in our fridge, advised the Chairman of the school Governors their marketing strategy is flawed, praised the Friends secretary for all the hard work she is doing on the up and coming summer ball, explored how best to prepare for a court case against the Bank of Scotland with my solicitor, and discussed the legal implications with our tenant in Spain in the event of the imminent repossession of our apartment.

In reality any one of these subjects would be more than enough for my addled brain but knowing full well success usually comes to those who are too busy to go looking for it, I always feel compelled to do everything I have agreed to. The job I had planned for today was simply to establish what Banca Caja in Spain want to do with our apartment on the Costa Del Sol. We haven't been there for three years and have made no payments for most of this time to either Banca Caja, who hold the mortgage, or the community who provide the maintenance services for the complex. Bizarrely enough, it was only when some good friends found a long term tenant for me who expressed a interest in buying it, the real trouble started.

Discovering the rent being offered was enough to pay all the interest on the mortgage with Banca Caja as well as 95% of the Community fees, I foolishly thought those concerned would be pleased if I arranged for my tenant to pay these amounts direct to both of them. It was at this point the madness began. On moving in, my tenant, who enjoyed watching the BBC channels on TV was disappointed to find that the Community satellite was failing to provide them. He approached the community manager about a repair but was told it would not be forth coming without a committee vote. This was because our financial difficulties had resulted in 9000 euros of arrears.

At the committee meeting the Chairman of the Community recommended a vote to a force sale of the apartment on the pretext that the equity from this be used to recoup the amount owing. No amount of explaining on my part that the property had 100,000 euros of negative equity would deter him. I later discovered, his motive had less to do with settling an outstanding community account and a lot to do with acquiring our apartment cheap for his friend.

 My tenant, who by this time was feeling very insecure, suggested I write to my bank and my solicitor to verify his position.  I did this only to hear that the bank also wished to take possession of the apartment too but had not done so because they had forgotten to impliment it two years previously. I was assured that my tenant could remain in residence due to his protected tenancy and he would be allowed to purchase the apartment within a five year period. Banca Caja went on to say that they would, in exchange for my agreement to this, write off the 100,000 euros negative equity and arrears and settle all outstanding bills against the property including the Community fees.

Hallelujah, I thought.

Everyone is happy (except perhaps the Chairman of the Community’s bargain hunting friend) and no stupid “Bank of Scotland type” debt collecting persecution tactics for me to deal with either.
The icing on the cake was that, during the following weeks, Banca Caja stopped allocating the rent payments to my mortgage account. When I enquired why, they insisted that it was no longer necessary as any interest due when the repossession was implemented would form part of the write off. My tenant, whose solicitor advised him he had to pay rent to someone to protect his tenancy rights, has continued to pay it to me and I have now purchased a modest holiday with the proceeds.
Thanks Banca Caja you have been great but do you realise, I wonder, that you have still not repossessed my apartment.

I am now wondering if maybe you have forgotten again.

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