Living in a condominium in Ecuador is very common and an excellent choice! Condominium living combines security, social spaces, maintenance, and a beautiful living space all into one. It’s no wonder that it is a popular choice of expats.
On May 21st, 2015 a new reform was added to the Condominium Act. This information is important for anyone who is an owner, renter or investor of condominiums in Ecuador. Throughout our years of experience, we have seen many people disregard the regulations on condominium ownership in Ecuador for multiple reasons, but this can be quite an issue as unfamiliarity with the law does not exempt one from the responsibilities or consequences in Ecuador, for this reason, we’ve outlined the recent updates below so that everyone can be up to date.
These are just descriptions of the law, to read the actual articles in the Ecuadorian Constitution, please consult our legal library.
Chapter X Art. 1.-Preliminary administrative authorization
If you are going to buy a property in a condominium, make sure that the owner has “Preliminary Administrative Authorization”, which will be issued by the Municipality. This information is public and anyone can access it if required, it can be obtained in the Planning Department or its counterpart office in the Municipality where the property is located.
Note: Notaries and Property Registrars are prohibited from processing the public deed of sale if a copy of the declaration of condominium property ownership and a copy of the rules of ownership are not inserted.
Chapter X Art. 2.- Preliminary administrative authorization requirements
There are two documents that must be approved by the local municipality in order to obtain Preliminary Administration Authorization (PAA). The first demonstrates that the seller of the property is the actual owner of the land, and the second is a detailed plan of the condominium complex showing the individual living spaces and common areas.
Chapter X Art. 3.- Procedure for the preliminary administrative authorization and declaration of restraint to horizontal property
The PAA will be approved by the municipality
The applicant (buyer of condominium) must make a formal statement of submission to the property, through a public deed.
All real estate contracts must be made by public deed, this guarantees that the rights and obligations are enforceable. It is a common practice to make private contracts that promise to sell, but this practice is illegal because it violates a legal requirement. All builders should be aware of the illegality; there are many rules that indicate this but the laws are not always adhered to in Ecuador.
This deed is registered in the Registry of Properties.
Any changes or updates to the contract or property must be added to this original public deed in the Registry of Properties. This is the only document that allows separation of the properties.
Chapter X Art. 4.- Variations
If for any reason the project plans change, as often happens, it is possible to update the condominium project. The condominium declaration is not written in stone and changes can be made. It is the responsibility of the builder to plan with qualified and experienced construction professionals (architects and engineers), but finish dates are often estimated and not exact.
Chaper X Art. 5.- Plans and internal regulations
Once the project is completed, the final plans must be notarized and registered in the notary where the condominium declaration has been made and then registered in the Registry of Properties of the Canton. Again, these documents are public and certified copies can be obtained at any time, but it is recommended that the administration of the building keeps files with all official documents to deliver to new buyers.
This regulation requires that the declaration is fully understood by all buyers and sellers, this can sometimes be extremely difficult with language barriers, for this reason we advise to have a translator on hand who can tell you explicitly what the declaration says.
No taxes are owed on this registration, though a service fee may apply.
Chaper X Art. 6.- Marketing of real estate properties declared in condominium
The signing of the deed can be done, even if part of the payment is guaranteed through a financial institution, such as a bank loan.
The deed cannot be signed until at least 70% of the construction of the condominium complex is completed.
Even if the project is not finished, it is still possible to make a property deed for a transfer of ownership provided that the common areas serving the property areas are completed. The builder is obligated to finish construction of all common areas before final delivery of the project to the co-owners (Art. 9 Condominium Act).
Chapter X Art. 7.- Management and maintenance of common public assets
Co-owners may voluntarily agree to cooperate with administration to create regulations for common management and maintenance of public spaces that surround the property.
This provision is very important and radical; it gives an important attribution to the administration to prevent the transfer to and from a property within the condominium system, and force the people to fulfill payment of the association fees before authorizing the move.
Each property owner has the right to require the provider of public services to provide a meter that will charge them for their individual consumption of utilities. However, this does not include the contribution they must make to the payment of utilities in common areas of the property.
If a term of the public deed is altered, co-owners have 60 days to implement the new regulation.
Ecuador is a country that has been experiencing growth in recent years and these changes in regulations are very important to be updated on, as they create a more secure investment. That being said, the Ecuadorian legal system can be very complex and it is your obligation as a buyer to obtain all of the information necessary to make a secure and legal transaction. If you have doubts or questions, you can write to us or consult a trusted professions, as each case is very particular.
Disclaimer: This article does not represent any legal advice, and should not be regarded as a legal consultation. For more detailed information on buying real estate in Ecuador, please contact us at email@example.com and we'd be happy to talk with you.