Does a Zero Rate Euribor Affect Your Mortgage?

What mortgage should I get with a negative Euribor?

The Euribor has reached zero and continues its downward path, an unusual scenario which causes troubles to banks in an inauspicious time for retail businesses. The variable rate mortgage, with a calculation formula stipulated by adding a spread to Euribor, will experience a surprise in the coming months: the applicable Euribor may have a minus sign in front of it.

What effect would this have on fees? A charge for being mortgaged, a reduction in the monthly payment or no effect at all? If the absolute value of Frozen Euribor overtakes the differential one, the applicable interest rate would be negative, implying getting money for having borrowed, according to the opinion of some. After all, there are banks that pay other financial entities to lend money, and this paradox makes the Euribor and other market interest rates very cold. But the banks have already made clear that to “pay for borrowing” is “contradictory” and that, in any case, the courts are the ones to decide.

Although it might happen that financial institutions have to pay the mortgagor, only a few customers could experience the happiness of actually receiving money. Customers who took Deutsche Bank mortgages, to a spread of 0.17%, or Bankinter, with its extinct Euribor offer of +0.18%, are the type of borrower who might experience the effect of negative rates. Those with ordinary mortgages may opt for a reduced share, with interest below the agreed differential. The effect would be invalid if the writing of a mortgage establishes a floor clause, which immunizes the monthly fee from negative rates. In these cases, consulting a lawyer to analyze if a lawsuit against the bank is viable is a good thing to do.

What if I’m thinking about asking for a mortgage?

The yield curve that benefits many mortgagors may hurt new applicants. 2016 is going to be the year of real estate, but it is going to takeoff gradually. Banks want to attract creditworthy customers and compete in the mortgage market, but this effect may be mitigated if the negative rates scenario continues.

In the first place, the reduction of spreads has stopped, according to data handled by the financial portal iAhorro.com, Euribor + 1 was the one to beat this year, but banks have frozen the lower rate offers. It is not plausible to see lower spread mortgages until the Euribor value rises again, even if only slightly. This is a bad panorama for those who had planned to finance their home when mortgages were cheaper.

In addition, to wait for a rebirth of floor clauses is not unreasonable. The floor clauses are not illegal; what does not comply with the rules is to hide its effects on the calculation of the monthly installments from clients. A “zero clause” agreement has been established which means that the mortgage interest will never descend below zero. It could be only a matter of time before some banks take the leap to provide limitations on the descent of moderate interest rates, not much above 1%.

Banco Santander has innovated and may set a trend: it states that the rate is fixed for the first two years, namely 1.75% nominal. Two years is not a term that seeks to benefit the customer who pays fixed fees, but to protect the bank from a negative Euribor during this time.

But not everything is bad news for those who want to get a mortgage this year: there are several banks offering mortgages with fixed or mixed stable rates below 3% or even 2% depending on the bank and the client. 1.75% for two years is a bad choice; but a safe 2% for ten or more years is an option to take into account. In the mortgage North Pole, those who know how to wrap up with the training and information coat, will arrive safely at their destination: just paying a fair amount for the money borrowed.

 

N.B. This article is for information only and should not be treated as financial advice.

New Decree Signals Change For Private Rentals

For the last three years, owners of holiday-let apartments have been holding their breath as the Junta de Andalucia attempt to come up with a new decree governing the renting of private apartments to holiday makers.

The decree was finalised and finally published late last week bringing the wait to an end.

Regulation of the industry on the Costa del Sol is lagging behind as other parts of Spain have had rules in place for many years, including Catalonia where the rules came into force in 2014.

You can read the official document in Spanish on the Junta de Andalucia website.

Does my property qualify as ‘holiday rental accommodation’?

If you own a private residential property in a residential zone and you regularly offer it for short-term (holiday) rentals for financial reward and you promote it via any recognised tourism channel then yes, this applies to you. Recognised tourism channels include, but are not limited to, travel agencies, third-party tourism promotors, or any channel that includes the option to make a reservation.

If any of the following applies to you then don’t worry, your property is excluded:

  • Properties that are transferred without payment or financial reward.
  • If the rental contract lasts for more than two months continuously by the same tenant (long-term rental).
  • Properties in rural areas. These properties are already covered by article 48 of Law 13/2011 of December 23rd and Decree number 20/2002, dated January 29th, Tourism in Rural Areas and Active Tourism.
  • Multiple properties (three or more) with the same owner, located in the same building, or in neighbouring buildings, less than 1km from each other. These will be classed as Touristic Apartments and will be subject to Decree 194/2010 of April 20.

Can I rent my property for tourism purposes?

If renting the entire property, the maximum capacity is restricted only by the license of occupation but may not exceed 15 people with a maximum of four people per room.

If renting a single room, the owner must also reside in the property, and the maximum capacity will also be four people per room, with a maximum of six people.

My property qualifies and I do rent it our seasonally. What do I need to do?

This is quite a list so sit comfortably and read on!

  1. An occupational license is required and your property must comply with technical conditions and quality requirements for housing.
  2. The property must be sufficiently equipped and furnished to enable immediate use.
  3. Ventilation, either via direct ventilation or via a patio must be in place as must the ability to provide window shading either by darkened windows, blinds or curtains.
  4. Fitted air-conditioning must be in place in all bedrooms and lounge areas. For rentals from May to September a cooling system must be available. For rentals from October to April a heating system must be available. If your property is listed as of “cultural interest” or building/modification work is prohibited, then your property is exempt from this item.
  5. Properties must contain a fully stocked medical/first aid kit.
  6. Information about local amenities must be made available for tenants. These should include details of local shops, restaurants, parking, medical facilities and public transport, etc.
  7. A complaints/claims book must be made available to tenants.
  8. Properties must be cleaned before check-in and after check out of clients.
  9. Bedding, towels and other household good must be provided, along with spares.
  10. A contact number should be available for tenants to answer questions or resolve issues regarding the rental.
  11. Information/instructions must be provided for all electrical appliances.
  12. Rules and regulations regarding the property and/or the urbanisation must be provided. These include rules regarding smoking, music, pool access etc.

 Ok, I’ve got that. How do I register?

As the owner of the property it is your responsibility to ensure your property is in-line with the new requirements and is registered with the authorities.

To do this you must submit a statement to the Ministry for Tourism confirming the property is compliant. Once submitted you can accept clients immediately. The minimum details you are required to submit are:

  • Property Details: Catastral Number and Maximum capacity (as stated on the license of occupation)
  • Your details: Whether you are an Individual or a Company, along with contact information.

Once you have registered you will receive a registration number which must be included on all promotional/advertising material.

The registry must then be informed of all rental activity in your property. This includes details of commencement and cessation of rentals.

How do I go about my rental business now?

There is now a long list of things you now have to do to legally handle your rental clients:

  1. All of your clients must be presented with a document, by way of contract, that provides your details, the registration number provided by the Registry of Tourism, the tenants details along with the details of their stay, including the price, and a contact number.
  2. All of your tenants must provide you with identification to enable you to register details of their stay. This brings private rentals in-line with the registry process when staying in any other recognised hotel or similar.
  3. You must agree arrival and departure times with your tenants prior to their arrival. If you do not, the arrival time will be assumed to be 16:00 and departure time will be 12:00.
  4. At the point of check-in, the clients must be provided with keys or access cards to allow them entry to all points of the property/urbanisation. You should also provide details of any rules regarding the community/urbanisation.
  5. Instructions for all the appliances within the property must also be made available.
  6. When advertising your property, it must be priced per night and the price must include utilities (water, electricity, cleaning and bedding). There is no restriction on the number of nights.
  7. Final price, dates etc must be provided in writing before confirmation of any booking. If an advance payment is made, a written receipt must be provided for the tenant.
  8. You may request an advance payment as a deposit up to a maximum of 30% of the total rental cost, unless a different amount is previously agreed with the tenant.

Cancellation

  • If the tenant cancels the booking within 10 days of the commencement of the rental, then the owner may retain the deposit in full.
  • If the tenant cancels the booking more than 10 days before the commencement of the rental, then the owner may retain up to 50% of the deposit.
  • If the owner cancels the booking more than 10 days before the commencement of the rental the tenant must receive a refund of the entire deposit.
  • If the owner cancels the booking within 10 days before the commencement of the rental the tenant must compensate the tenant with up to 30% of the contracted price of the entire stay.

Force Majeure

If the rental is cancelled by either party for substantiated reason or force majeure, no compensation will be due to either side.

 Deadline and Sanctions

Don’t panic! The decree was only published last week so you have a little time to prepare. Registration will open three months from publication, which was Feb 11th. This takes us to May 11th, 2016. From this date we believe you will have three months in which to register your property. You then have 12 months to ensure your property is fully compliant.

If you rent out your property without registering or before your property is fully compliant then you are liable to be fined. Maximum fines are stated as 180,000€.