what majorities are required to make decisions in a community of owners?

 

 

In a community of owners, decision-making is based on voting on resolutions that require a certain majority to be passed. These majorities are established to ensure that the decisions taken are supported by a significant majority of the owners and are considered fair and equitable for all concerned.

According to Article 17 of the Horizontal Property Law, there are different types of agreements that require specific majorities for approval. The following are the most common majorities required in a community of owners:

 

 1. Unanimity

 

Unanimous decisions in a community of owners are of paramount importance, as they reflect the need for consensus and the participation of all the owners in decisions that affect the well-functioning and coexistence of the building or group of buildings.

Unanimity is the general rule for decision-making, although there are exceptions, as we will see below.

Unanimity will be required for any agreement that affects the constitutive title of the community.

Another agreement that requires unanimity is the amendment of the community’s statutes. These statutes are the set of norms and rules that govern the coexistence and use of the common areas. Any change to these statutes must be approved by all the owners, as it affects the rights and obligations of each of them.

Similarly, the unanimous consent of the owners will be required for the sale or transfer of the common elements. This situation could arise if the community decides to sell a property or a common area to raise additional funds or to carry out an improvement to the common facilities.

Works or alterations that affect the general structure of the building also require unanimity. For example, if it is decided to repair the façade or change the thermal insulation system, the agreement of all owners is required, as these works affect the structure of the property and may involve significant costs.

 

2. Qualified Majority

 

First, it is important to understand what is meant by qualified majority in the context of communities. It refers to the need to obtain a higher percentage of votes than the general requirement of a simple majority, which is half plus one of the votes presented or represented at the owners’ meeting. The qualified majority varies according to the type of decision to be taken and is specifically defined in each country’s horizontal property law or in the community’s statutes.

For example, the creation or abolition of a porter’s lodge, concierge, security or other common services of general interest, whether they involve a modification of the constituting deed or the statutes, require the approval of three-fifths of the total number of owners, representing three-fifths of the participation quotas.

Another agreement that may require a qualified majority is the carrying out of works or improvements to the common elements of the community. These works may involve a significant financial outlay for the community, and it is therefore important that the decision is approved by a larger number of owners. This avoids unnecessary or costly works being imposed by a minority.

A qualified majority is also required for the adoption of agreements that may restrict the exercise of certain rights of the owners. For example, the leasing of common elements, the imposition of more restrictive cohabitation rules, or the prohibition of the use of certain facilities. These restrictions may affect the rights and freedoms of the owners, so a greater consensus is required to impose them to ensure that they are fair and equitable measures.

Likewise, with this majority, it is possible to limit the exercise of tourist activities in the community of owners, as established in Royal Decree-Law 7/2019 of 1 March on Urgent Measures in the Area of Housing and Renting:

“The temporary transfer of use of the entirety of a furnished and equipped dwelling in conditions of immediate use, marketed or promoted in tourist offer channels or by any other means of marketing or promotion, and carried out for profit, if it is subject to a specific regime derived from the sectoral tourism regulations.”

 

3. Simple majority

 

This type of majority is required for ordinary decisions. In most cases, a resolution is considered to have been approved if more owners present at the general assembly vote in favour of it than vote against it. For example, if there are 10 owners present at a meeting and 6 vote in favour of a resolution and 4 vote against, the resolution will be passed.

 

3.a) Removal of architectural barriers

 

According to the provisions of Law 10/2022, of 14 June, on Urgent Measures to Promote the Renovation of Buildings within the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, the removal of architectural barriers in buildings can be approved by a simple majority:

“Without prejudice to the provisions of article 10.1.b), the performance of works or the creation of new common services aimed at the removal of architectural barriers that impede the access or mobility of persons with disabilities, and in any case the creation of elevator services, even if they imply the modification of the constitutional title or the bylaws, shall require the favourable vote of the majority of the unit owners, representing the majority of the participation quotas.

If agreements are validly adopted to carry out accessibility works, the community shall be obliged to pay the costs, even if the amount of the annual levy exceeds twelve ordinary monthly payments of common expenses”.

 

3.b) Energy improvement or introduction of renewable energy sources

 

“The performance of works or actions that contribute to the improvement of energy efficiency, as certified by the energy performance certificate of the building, or the implementation of renewable energy sources for common use, as well as the request by the community of owners to public or private entities for grants, subsidies, loans or any type of financing for the performance of such works or actions, shall require the approval of the majority of the votes cast in the general assembly, shall require the favourable vote of the majority of the community of owners, shall require the favourable vote of a simple majority of the owners, representing a simple majority of the participation quotas, provided that the amount charged annually, after deduction of the subsidies or public aid and the application of the financing, if any, does not exceed the amount of twelve ordinary monthly payments of common expenses.” Also regulated by Law 10/2022, of 14 June, on Urgent Measures to Promote the Rehabilitation of Buildings within the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

 

3.c) Approval of the budget

 

Another decision taken by simple majority is the approval of the annual budget of the Community. This budget determines the expenses that will be incurred during the year, such as repairs, maintenance, community services, and others. It is important that this approval is made by simple majority to ensure that the majority of owners agree with the items included in the budget.

 

4. Cases in which the approval of the community is not required

 

As an exception to the previous rules, the approval of the community of owners is not required in the cases set out in article 10 of the Horizontal Property Act:

  • “The works and actions necessary for the proper maintenance and fulfilment of the duty to preserve the building and its common services and installations, including in any case those necessary to satisfy the basic requirements of safety, habitability and universal accessibility”.
  • “The works and actions necessary to guarantee reasonable adaptations in terms of universal accessibility and, in any case, those required at the request of the owners in whose apartments or premises disabled persons or persons over seventy years of age live, work or provide voluntary services, in order to ensure their appropriate use of the common elements in accordance with their needs, as well as the installation of ramps, lifts or other mechanical and electronic devices that facilitate orientation or communication with the outside, provided that the amount charged annually for the same, after deduction of public subsidies or aid, does not exceed twelve ordinary monthly payments of common expenses”.
  • “The acts of physical division of dwellings or premises and their annexes to form other smaller and independent ones, the increase in their surface area through the aggregation of other adjacent ones in the same building, or their reduction through the separation of any part, carried out at the will and request of their owners, when such acts are possible as a consequence of the inclusion of the property in an area of action for rehabilitation or urban renewal and renovation”.
  • The construction of new floors and any other alteration to the structure or fabric of the building or the common elements, as well as the creation of a real estate complex, which are mandatory as a result of the inclusion of the property in a rehabilitation or urban renewal and renovation area. According to Article 17.4 of the Land Law.

It is important to stress that, in addition to the majorities required for the approval of agreements, these agreements must be duly convened and discussed at a meeting of the owners, where all the owners have the opportunity to express their opinion and exercise their right to vote. There must also be minutes of the meeting recording the agreements reached, which is essential to avoid future misunderstandings or conflicts.

In conclusion, the majorities required to approve agreements in a community of owners are established to ensure representativeness and fairness in decision-making. These majorities, whether simple, qualified or unanimous, help to ensure that the decisions taken are fair and reflect the consensus of the majority of owners, thus promoting harmonious co-existence and the smooth running of the community.

If you need any help regarding the agreements adopted by the community, please contact us.