Would you hand over the keys to your house to a stranger in the street? I am guessing the answer would be no – unless you have a property in Spain of course!
100’s of owners of Spanish property hand over the keys to their holiday homes to property management companies and letting agents on a regular basis. Many of these owners have been met at their own property by any of the increasing number of expats operating this type of service from home illegally.
Property owners can be sucked in by pretty websites or adverts in local papers, by people offering them all types of services – cleaning, management, maintenance, rentals – generally at a cheaper rate than legal companies offering the same services. Owners then presume that they are getting better value for money (ie a cheap service) and hand keys to these individuals along with the consequent risks.
Citrus Iberia Property Management has been operating since 2002, at which time there were very few companies offering these services to Spanish property owners. In the last two years, the market has become swamped with individuals designing websites and running local ads offering the same services – the difference is that a high percentage are not legal.
For owners of Spanish property who need someone on hand to take care of things in their absence, or require a rental and changeover service, it is advisable to contact several management ‘companies’ in the area in which your property is located. Many (including Citrus Iberia), will offer to meet you at your property when you are next in Spain. This is necessary as the company needs to see the property to give a quote on services and required, and to judge what income may be generated from rentals. However, at this stage do not part with money or keys. Insist on a follow up visit to the offices of the company, or perhaps visit their offices before they visit your property. Contract can be signed, keys handed over, and any monies paid once you are safe in the knowledge that you are dealing with people who are not going to disappear overnight.
Instead of wasting your holiday time, check out these services before you leave. Searching the internet for property management services in Spain, can reveal a vast number of results. Make enquiries to various websites offering the type of services you are interested in, ask if you can meet them at their offices when you are next in Spain.
I have already done this research myself – a staggering 85% of replies were from people happy to meet me at the property, but unwilling to let me have an office location! Try it yourself – many will insist on meeting you at the property – or even a local bar! Others will not reply when you become insistent, which I take to mean that they have no office.
You wouldn’t dream of handing over your house keys to a stranger in your home country, so why do it in Spain?…