Once you become the owner of a property in Spain, you will need to connect and set up your utilities. You will need to think about and set up gas, electricity, water and waste disposal. The process may be different in Spain than other countries so it helps to have an understanding of how it all works first. Below we discuss each utility and what exactly you need to do.
Gas in Spain
Mains gas is not something which is widely available outside of the major cities in Spain. In particular when looking for places to buy in Spain, if you are looking at rural Spanish properties for sale you may want to check whether the property has mains gas or not. However, when you do move into a property in Spain with mains gas, you are required to contact the local gas distributor in your area to have it switched on. They will then do a meter reading and register you as the property owner. You will therefore become the responsible individual on the contract.
In Spain, each area has a distributor for mains gas. You therefore have no choice in this. Your local gas distributor will carry out an inspection and service on all of the gas appliances in your property. In 2008 it became a legal requirement for all Spanish households to have all gas appliances inspected and serviced annually. There is a small fee for this – usually roughly €70.
You are able to select a gas supplier of your choice providing that there is more than one company supplying gas to your area (which is not necessarily always the case). Before making this decision it is worth looking at the different tariffs available so that you can choose the one which best suits your individual requirements. Several suppliers of gas in Spain will have joint gas and electricity tariffs on offer and so this is something you may wish to look into too. The main companies supplying gas in Spain are Enagas, Endesa and Naturgy.
In some Spanish households where mains gas may not be an option, gas bottles (calor gas) is used instead. Here you can read about what you need to know about using bottled gas in Spain. It generally works out cheaper than mains gas. There are two main providers of calor gas bottles, Repsol Butano and Cepsa. As well as supplying gas bottles they will also be able to carry out the appliance inspection and service mentioned above.
It is recommended you pay your supplier via direct debit to ensure all payments are made on time. You can set this up easily from your Spanish bank account.
Electricity in Spain
When buying property in Spain, one of the first things you will need to do as the property’s new owner is to ensure the electricity is connected. If it is not, you will need to contact your local distribution company (as with gas, you cannot choose who your distributor is). They will then send someone to connect your electricity supply. They will also instal a controller to regulate your electricity.
Unfortunately getting your electricity connected is not a free service and you will be charged a small fee. Most of these charges are fixed and therefore do not differ depending on the distribution company. There will be an inspection charge of around €8 and a charge for connecting mains electricity of around €10. You may also be liable to pay access and extension charges for the connection, a security deposit and meter costs. Spain is currently rolling out smart meters in every home with free installation. You will however be required to either purchase a smart meter or pay to rent one.
Please note that if you are purchasing what is known as a community property in Spain, it is actually illegal for buyers to be charged extra for connecting utility services as it is included in the price of the property.
If the electricity is already connected when you purchase a property in Spain then you simply need to decide which supplier you would like to go with. Before choosing a supplier it is worth looking at the different tariffs which may be available to you so that you can ensure you are on the best one to suit your individual needs. As with gas, it is possible there will only be one supplier in your area meaning you have no choice.
Once you have made your decision and know which supplier you would like to use you now simply need to contact them by telephone or via the internet.
If your power is already connected and you wish to use the existing supplier, you will only need to give them the details of the individual who will now be responsible for making the payment.
If you wish to change suppliers they will require some additional information. They will let you know what they need but generally they will ask for your electricity installation certificate (required by all households to ensure a safe electricity supply) and your ‘unified supply point code’ (CUPS), (this can be found on your electricity bill or paperwork).
It is important when purchasing a property in Spain that your electricity is dealt with promptly. You may be liable for any debts created and left by previous owners if you do not put the contract into your own name from the date of purchase.
The easiest way to pay your electricity bill is by direct debit from your Spanish bank account. If you are purchasing a holiday home you are able to have your bills sent to an address abroad.
Water in Spain
Contrary to the belief of many, water quality in Spain is good with over 99.5% of Spanish tap water being considered as safe to drink. Please see ‘Spain upgraded to safe drinking tap water’. It is widely available with access all over Spain in both urban and rural areas. There are occasions, particularly in Southern Spain where you may be asked to restrict usage due to droughts (similar to a ‘hose pipe ban’ in the UK).
When it comes to water supply in Spain, the market is mixed. Water supply is the responsibility of your municipality. Over half of the municipalities in Spain use a municipal public provider to supply their water. Private companies are used by roughly a third of the municipalities and the remaining areas have a private/public mix.
When purchasing a property in Spain you will need to check that the water supply is connected. If it has been disconnected the local water company will need to reconnect it. You must contact them yourself to arrange this. Unfortunately this is not a free service. The cost of connecting a new home to the local water supply can vary depending on the company and the area. If a private company controls water distribution in your area it could cost as much as €500.
When you purchase a property in Spain, you must register yourself as the new owner by contacting your local town hall. They will transfer the water contract into the name of the new responsible individual. Some municipalities allow you to do this online whereas others may still require you to visit your local town hall in person.
As with electricity, it is important that you check previous bills have been paid and change the name on the contract promptly to ensure you are not liable for previous debts.
There is not a universal standard water tariff in Spain and the price can vary between municipalities. The good news is the average tariff is below the European average at roughly €1.50/m3. A majority of municipalities charge a flat fee for minimum consumption whether you have used any water or not. Areas which use a private water supplier may charge holiday homeowners a higher rate so this is something you may wish to look into if you are looking to purchase a holiday home.
Generally, your water bill covers the costs of sewerage and may even include waste disposal depending on your municipality. You will need to check this with your local town hall.
The easiest way to pay your water in Spain is via direct debit. You can usually pay this either monthly or quarterly. Paying your bill on time is vital as if you do not you risk having your water supply disconnected which could mean you then have to pay a reconnection fee. As mentioned above, this is not always cheap.
As you can see water tariffs etc vary considerably between municipalities so please ensure you look into what’s what when becoming the new owner of a Spanish property.
Waste Disposal in Spain
The way your waste disposal works in Spain will depend on your municipality. A majority of municipalities charge each household an annual fee. The amount will depend on a number of factors. The area you live in will of course be one factor but some areas discount the price for low income households such as those who may be unemployed and for the elderly. To find out how much you need to pay and how to do this you will need to contact your local town hall. As previously mentioned, it is possible that your waste disposal is included in the cost of your water bill. Again, you can check this with your town hall.
In terms of the rubbish collection itself, things have improved in recent years and although Spain may not be as good at recycling as other European countries, they are getting better and better. You will find that a majority of municipalities recycle most common materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, cans, aluminium, plastic and batteries as well as others. Some also collect and recycle garden waste.
The frequency of rubbish collection varies between municipalities. Rural areas will have less frequent collections than busier urban areas. In larger cities it could be as often as daily.
You may be able to obtain a leaflet outlining how often they operate their waste disposal and where you are expected to leave your rubbish etc from your local town hall.
How Movehappy can help
The information above may seem a little overwhelming. When purchasing a property abroad it may feel like you have a lot to think about when all you really want to do is enjoy your new property in the sun.
The team at Movehappy have over 20 years experience and are more than happy to help answer any questions you may have about utilities or anything else at all. Please do not hesitate contact us. We are always here to help.