Amendment of the surface area of a plot in the land registry
In Spain there are two different registries that contain information concerning real estate, namely the Cadastre and Land Registry. The said institutions work in conjunction to provide legal security and transparency in the property market and as such, all those titles that affect ownership or similar rights over property that are registered in Land Registry must contain the cadastral reference of the property which provides the corresponding fiscal information concerning the plot of land and the construction built upon it if there is one. In addition to the fiscal information, the Cadastre provides a so called graphical and descriptive certificate which must be incorporated into the titles that are registered in Land Registry in those cases foreseen under Spanish Law. In this manner, the Cadastre provides complementary information to that which is contained in Land Registry itself.
However, on some occasions, the fact that the two registries are currently two totally independent institutions causes cases in which discrepancies exist between the information provided by each one of them with regard to the same property. For example, a plot of land may be registered with a larger surface area in the land registry than in Cadastre or viceversa. Does this mean that the property is “illegal”? The answer is obviously no, and these defects, that are on most occasions caused by the administration that manages the Cadastre, may be remedied.
The Land Registry statute was recently reformed and now contains several methods for the amendment of discrepancies with regard to registered titles.
1.- Cases in which there is a discrepancy of no more than 10% between the title in land registry and the surface area in the Cadastre reflected in the graphical certificate of the plot: It is understood that the two registries are re- ferring to the same property as long as it is clear that the information provided by each registry refers to the same physical area of land and the difference in the surface area does not impede a perfect identification of the property or cause doubts or confusion with regard to the titles to the neighbouring properties.
2.- Amendments of discrepancies of more than 10% of the surface area of the plot pursuant to article 199 of the Land Registry Statute.
This procedure establishes that the owner of the property or any holder of rights over the property may incorporate the description contained in the Cadastre if the situation of the property and its graphical delimitation permits the identification of the boundaries and the correct surface area of the plot by means of a graphical and descriptive certificate from the Cadastre.
The registrar in Land Registry Will process the application and notify the owners of the neighbouring properties that would potentially be affected by the modification and the Cadastre itself in those cases in which it is necessary prior to making the final amendment.
3.- Amendment of the Surface area when the discrepancy is not more than 5% of the registered title: When the supposed difference in the surface area between Land Registry and Cadastre is less than 5% of the surface area of the title registered in Land Registry, the registrar may directly register the amendment without having to process the standard procedure foreseen in article 199 of the Land Registry Statute on the basis of an informed decision and when no doubts exist with regard to the accuracy of the amendment applied for and when the title in question was not created by virtue of previous segregations or parcellations which would have specifically attributed the plot with a determined surface area that would not admit future discrepancies.
In this case, and only once the amendment has been made in Land Registry, would the registrar be obliged to notify the owners of neighbouring properties to make them aware of the modification made and so that, if necessary, they could exercise those rights that they may have.