When can you refuse to pay a community charge?

¿Cuándo puedes negarte a pagar una derrama?

In the world of neighbourhood communities, levies – those extraordinary fees collected to cover unforeseen expenses – often raise questions and, at times, controversy. As a property owner, it’s vital to understand your rights and obligations related to these additional payments. In this article, we’ll clarify when you are legally bound to contribute to a levy and the circumstances under which you might have the option to refuse.

What is a levy in a neighbourhood community?

Within the context of neighbourhood communities, a levy refers to an exceptional payment property owners must make to cover costs not accounted for in the regular budget. These costs might arise from unexpected repairs, improvements to communal areas, or even projects that enhance the environment. In other words, levies are essential for the maintenance and improvement of the quality of life within the community.

Why might levies arise?

Levies can unexpectedly emerge for various reasons: from damages due to extreme weather conditions to the natural wear and tear of facilities. They can also arise from the desire to modernize or beautify communal areas. Such circumstances generally can’t be foreseen in the annual budget, making levies a practical and necessary solution.

Is it mandatory to pay all levies?

In principle, yes, paying levies is both a legal and contractual obligation for property owners in a community. The Horizontal Property Law clearly states that owners must contribute to community expenses, which includes levies that have been approved at a property owners’ meeting.

Are there exceptions?

However, there are nuances. A levy must be approved following the procedures and majorities set out in the legislation and community statutes. If these steps haven’t been followed, the levy could be challenged and considered non-mandatory.

When is it mandatory to pay a levy?

The duty to pay a levy stems from decisions taken at the owners’ meeting. If a levy has been approved at a meeting in accordance with legal and statutory procedures, all owners are bound to contribute financially. Approval at a meeting ensures the legality and justification of the levy, emphasizing the importance of attending and participating in these gatherings.

When can I refuse to pay a levy?

Although levies are generally obligatory, certain conditions allow you to exercise your right to refuse payment. These specific circumstances include:

Incorrect procedures: If the levy hasn’t been approved in line with legislation and community statutes.
Lack of transparency: If there hasn’t been clear and detailed information regarding the purpose and use of the collected funds.
Irregularities: If any irregularity occurred during the approval process.

Example: Imagine the property owners’ meeting decides a levy is needed to renovate the communal garden, but they don’t provide cost estimates or details on how the project will be executed. In this case, you could have valid reasons to challenge the levy.

What next?

If you find yourself in any of these situations, it’s advisable to seek specialised legal advice. Acting within the legal framework is essential to protect your rights as an owner.

What happens if I can’t pay the levy?

If you face financial difficulties and can’t meet the payment, it’s crucial to communicate with the neighbourhood community as soon as possible. Ignoring the situation could result in interest accumulation and other charges. Many communities offer flexible payment options and are willing to work with you to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Limits and time to pay a levy

Understanding the time limits and procedures to challenge a levy in a neighbourhood community is essential to safeguard your rights as an owner. Approving a levy entails it being discussed and voted on at an owners’ meeting, requiring a specific majority. If you question the legality of a levy, you can file a complaint, typically within 30 days from the decision.

Final Thoughts

Refusing to pay a levy in a neighbourhood community is a delicate decision that should be taken with a full understanding of the legal rights and responsibilities. For comprehensive information and protection, it’s wise to seek expert advice on property and estate management.

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