Changing your Administrator

Every community can decide to outsource the management of their community installations, services and book keeping to an Administrator.   The Administrator therefore will be in charge of preparing the budget, managing the works, make payments and handling of all the accounts. While an Administrator needs to have a university degree in Property Administration, lawyers and accountants are also allowed to practice in this sector.  The role can also be fulfilled by any owner within the same community.

Creating and maintaining a beautiful community garden

Communal areas are important for fostering community spirit and having a beautiful garden area where residents can relax and enjoy the Spanish weather is a real benefit for everyone. However, gardening in Spain can be tough if you don’t want to spend money on full time staff to look after your plants and also want to minimise water use. Saving water is not just an environmental issue, it’s also a way to minimize community costs when you’re being charged on a water meter!

The greenest, most cost-effective way to garden in Spain is to use native plants which have evolved to cope with the dry weather and choose drought resistant varieties from other parts of the world. These plants, trees and grasses are still beautiful, but they take much less looking after and won’t use up too much of the precious water.

Is there an alternative to Chlorine?

With our lovely Spanish weather many urbanisations have swimming pools which are very popular with families, owners and also holiday makers. However maintaining water quality without using tons of chemicals can be hard. More and more community presidents are looking for alternatives to chlorine so they don’t have the smell, can stop damage to hair and bathing suits and can reduce adding potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment.

What is the responsibility of a Community President?

The Law on Horizontal Property states that all communities must have a President and gives this individual certain duties, obligations and rights. Fundamentally he or she is the official representative of the community of property owners and responsible for dealing with individual members, community issues and legal matters.

A Community President must be elected at a General Meeting and the only stipulations to be considered as a President are that they must be over 18, have full legal competence and be one of the co-owners of the properties within the community.

Energy saving tips to cut bills in 2013

On January 1st electricity prices went up and homeowners can expect to see a 3-6% increase on their bills. Given this price hike, home owners and community presidents are actively looking for ways to cut their consumption with the aim of reducing bills and lessening their impact on the environment.

As we told you last week, Endesa are rolling out Smart energy meters for all their clients, which means customers will be charged on their actual use every month rather than relying on estimations. The Smart meter also shows where the electricity is actually being used, so consumers can identify the most power-hungry items and you can learn to use these less, in a smarter way, or look for power-saving alternatives.

Here are a few tips for cutting electricity use and bills this year –

Invest in eco appliances where possible

Disconnect plugs which are not being used, phone chargers etc.

When replacing ovens try halogen, they are much more energy efficient than fan ovens

Clean all filters on tumble dryers, vacuums etc as blocked filters impair performance so you need to use it for longer

Use energy saving light bulbs and solar lighting outside

Keep heat in by drawing the curtains and using draft excluders

Don’t do half loads – fill dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers completely for less washes

Check whether your electricity costs less at different times of the day and adjust accordingly. For instance it may be cheaper to save all your washing until after 9pm at night if you’re on a day/night tariff

Around 6% of electric usage in the home is actually used by devices being left on standby so make sure you turn off at the mains

Investing in home solar panels could reduce your electric bill by up to 80%, they are likely to pay for themselves within 5 years, you could even sell back any energy you produce to the power company.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to reduce energy bills in your property and throughout your urbanization and share these useful tips with other owners via your community website.

Can I say no to being Community President?

Every community and urbanization requires a community president. In most Spanish communities, the role of President rotates between the neighbours and each year the presidency is changed, unless both the president and the owners are happy to carry on. There is no maximum term, but the minimum term is one year and if no one agrees to accept the role (in cases where there is no yearly rotation) then a draw is made to select a President among the owners.

Community President is a highly important role which can really make a difference in the way the community charges are spent, pushing through improvements, dealing with conflict – a good president can achieve a lot. However it can be a big responsibility and you may wish to say no, but can you get out of it?

In normal cases the answer unfortunately is no. However there are frequent cases where people refuse the role of President, particularly if the owners do not live in their property, or their health is not good and these issues can be proven to stand in the way of fulfilling the role adequately.

An owner can apply to the committee and ask them to accept their refusal of the position on certain grounds. If the committee accept these reasons then they will simply hold another election or draw to select the next President.

If they don’t feel that these are good reasons they can deny the refusal of the presidency and follow the legal route by starting the “procedimiento de equidad” (equality proceeding) and bringing it before a judge. It’s a relatively quick process and the judge must resolve the situation within 20 days.

However, the legal route is better avoided if possible as it can be expensive and create really negative feelings within the community. There are tools to make the role of Community President easier, such as a community website where people can communicate, share ideas and issues and solve problems even if all the owners aren’t living in the same place.

Malaga, One of the World’s Smart Cities

Malaga prides itself on being part of the International Project of Smart Cities and is ranked 1st in the top 5 smart cities in Spain. The key goals for Malaga Smart City are to reduce CO2 emissions, increase energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy to become a more sustainable city. The project includes energy efficiency solutions for the home and has benefited around 12,000 households since the launch in 2009.