Posted on 26 July 2017
The process of buying a property in Spain may have some distinct differences to the UK. Once you’re in possession of the keys, however, you’ll have to arrange provision and payment of electricity, gas and water, just as you would back home. Your life under the Spanish sun won’t be nearly as idyllic if you can’t provide for your basic needs, or you get hit with a hefty energy bill. With this in mind, ensure all bills have been paid by the previous owner. Yes you’re only liable for any debt incurred from the day you purchase the property, but utility companies are not averse to cutting off supply due to a previous owner’s outstanding debts.
The Spanish energy market was liberalised in 2003, meaning clients can, in theory, choose which supplier provides their electricity – the main ones being: Endesa (the largest), Gas Natural Fenosa, and Iberdrola. This isn’t always a reality, however, with many areas still only serviced by one provider.
Traditional electricity metres will soon be a thing of the past in Spain. Households contracted with less than 15 kilowatts are in the process of having their metres replaced with new smart metres, under the provisions of a royal decree. The aim is to have all metres replaced by 2018. If your home hasn’t been fitted with one yet, contact your energy provider immediately. The sooner you have one, the sooner you can receive real-time usage data that allows you to manage your energy consumption more effectively and better understand where you can make savings.
When moving into a property with a mains gas supply (only available in major cities), contact Gas Natural – the main supplier for all regions of Spain – to have the gas switched on, the meter read and to sign a supply contract. Your bill will be sent every two months, which will include VAT (IVA) at 16%. Like all utility bills, gas can be paid by direct debit (domiciliación bancaria) from your Spanish bank account.
If your property is located in a rural area and doesn’t have a mains gas supply – which is not uncommon – butane bottled gas (bombonas) is used. This can be delivered or purchased from a local petrol station or supermarket, and costs significantly less than mains gas. You will need an initial contract with a supplier to receive bottled gas. The supplier will conduct a safety inspection prior to approval, during which it will check the property where the gas appliance is to be used.
There’s a price to be paid for all those glorious sunny days in Spain: a lack of water. So don’t be surprised if your local municipality restricts water consumption during a baron spell. It is common for them to control the water supply and pass on the responsibility of distribution to a private or public company.
Despite a lack of supply from the heavens, water charges in Spain are lower than most other countries in the EU, particularly the UK. Bills are sent out on a quarterly basis and can be paid by direct debit.
Owners of a detached house or villa can reduce their water costs further by installing a water tank on the roof or underground, together with an electric pump. This will allow you to collect, store and use rainwater and save the environment in the process. Most modern properties have a storage tank already installed.
When you’re ready to make the move, click here to download the Spain Buying Guide. It’s completely FREE and packed with great advice.