Expatica news

Tough consumer law to stop house buying abuses

8 September 2005

MADRID — Consumers are to get tougher protection in a new law to stop them from being overcharged for telephone calls or parking fees or bamboozled with complex contracts to buy homes.

House buyers are to get better protection from excessive and unneeded clauses or hidden charges in housing contracts.

The draft bill, called the Law to Improve the Protection of Consumers and Users, will also stop telephone and other utility companies from rounding up bills and overcharging customers for calls.

It will introduce the same measure for car parking companies.

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, deputy prime minister, said the new law was designed to reinforce the protection of consumers from abuses in these sectors.

She said: “With this law we want to put an end to those companies which impose tariffs per hour on parking, end those interminable questions which you have to go through when a simple call should be enough if you want to sign up to a contract and finish with the abuses in which the buyer of a house pays for services which should be paid for by the seller.”

The new law aims to end complicated contracts for light, water or telephone services which often prove very difficult to get out of.

It is also going to stop the rounding up of prices, typically for parking or telephone companies, for time which consumers do not actually use.

In the case of phone calls, for example, this will mean minutes spent on the telephone, not per minute, but per second.

The law is to ban extra charges introduced by agents or sellers.

These can include upping the price of buildings, if the buyer does not want to take a mortgage with the same bank used by the seller or constructor.

Often in Spain, developers are offered commissions by banks if they can encourage buyers to take mortgages with the same bank.

The law will also to stop buyers having to pay for setting up services connected with homes, like water, sewage or gas, which should be included in the original price of the home.

The law is designed to protect the buyer in cases where they are not told the whole picture or not informed of all the conditions of the contract.

Another measure included in the law will put more responsibility on building inspectors to ensure buyers are not moving into dangerous properties.

It is expected that the law could be brought in within two years.

It is to include penalties on companies which break the new law.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news