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Making the Costa del Sol more accessible to foreign residents

Making the Costa del Sol more accessible to foreign residents

Foreigners have been moving to the Costa del Sol since the 1960s and services have grown to meet their needs; private clinics and hospitals with multi-lingual staff, international schools and services and businesses which cater to particular nationalities, languages and cultures.

The government knows that they also need to accommodate foreigners who may not speak the language, as this is a boost to the economy. Each Town Hall has a Foreign Residents Department, which is dedicated to their needs and is an excellent first point of call for any new resident. In recent years, these services have expanded and new offices are often opening. For example, a large new foreign residents office opened in Torremolinos in 2017 and added more support services this summer, responding to the increasing need.

Medical centres and hospitals in the most popular areas for expats have volunteer translators to help patients and there are many services springing up offering support to navigate the healthcare system in general.

One area which foreign residents often find difficult is supporting their children in the state schooling system if they have limited Spanish themselves. Luckily, in some areas there are bilingual schools being set up within the state system and other schools are taking the initiative to set up a support system for non-Spanish speakers.

Estepona Town Hall has just announced that they are creating a pioneering service which offers interpreters for parents in their public schools. This will offer an interpreter to accompany foreign parents to meetings with teachers to help their children to integrate better and perform to their best ability within the Spanish school system. They offer this service in ten languages including English, French, Russian, Norwegian and even Arabic!

All of these facilities and services make the Costa del Sol more popular to foreign residents and what is called residential tourism – people that come for part of the year and live there for extended periods of time. These people offer excellent opportunities for property owners who rent out their property to secure rentals outside of the peak summer period. Many Scandinavians for example will come for the winter only and then return home for the summer. If you are open to reducing your prices for longer term lets, this offers an amazing extra revenue stream, while still allowing you to rent to tourists over the peak summer months.

The many foreign residents who live here all year round, also offer excellent options to rent out your property long-term. This is a major growth area and there is a lack of supply to meet demand. Prices are increasing as a result of the shortage and so we’re encouraging owners who don’t use their property to consider this sector. It is a lot easier to find tenants for long-term rentals, than for the highly competitive short-term rental sector and the strict legislation which has been brought in to regulate holiday rentals, does not apply to long-term rentals, so it’s a lot easier to set up and manage.

Our Property Management specialists offer long-term rentals management packages which can help you with the set up and day-to-day running of your long-term rental property. We can offer all inclusive packages, or just a few services to take away the stress. Contact us to find out more.

What to do if your property was damaged in the floods?

Flood damage Costa del Sol

At the end of last year and again earlier this week, the Costa del Sol was badly affected by heavy rains and floods, which caused significant damage to property. Unlike December’s floods, last month’s flash floods were more localised around Malaga city, but it has raised more questions about what to do if your property is flooded and how to deal with any affects you may have had from the unusually wet winter.

One important thing to stress about this water damage, is that it’s very unusual to have heavy rains such as this. The rains in December were the heaviest for nearly 30 years and so you don’t need to worry about risk of flooding in general in this area, as it is very low. However, if you were flooded in December or last month, it’s important you know what to do about it and who is responsible for covering any damage to your property.

For floods and acts of god such as this, there is a “Consortium of Insurance Compensation”, which is responsible for paying out for some of the damage and then your insurance company who is responsible for others. It can be complicated, with the insurance company saying one thing and the consortium saying another, and it has left people at a loss at what to do.

The first thing to do is contact your insurance provider, explain what has happened and ask whether they can cover it. If they say no, take a look at the Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros website as it will hopefully be able to help you to see if they should cover you or not. There is an excellent article with the exact process of claiming through the consorcio de compensación de seguros from the Olive Press, which will give you lots of good advice. If that isn’t working for you, some lawyers are offering a service where they will deal with the consortium on your behalf to wade through the legaleeze and make sure you don’t fall into any loop holes.

We very much hope you haven’t had significant damage from these floods, but we are seeing a lot of low-level water damage in properties, from small leaks, or cracked paint work, causing damp in the rooms. If you haven’t visited your properties since December, please make sure you get someone to check it over, even if you aren’t located in the worst affected areas. Properties on the Costa del Sol are designed for heat and summer sunshine rather than rain, so damp is often a problem.

If you find damp, cleaning the area thoroughly with bleach, using anti-mould spray, heating and ventilating the property should do the trick. However, if it’s left unattended for a long time then it can turn into a more serious problem, so get someone to check your property and get it sorted.

We are checking all the properties we manage to make sure that the rain and high winds has not caused any damage. We particularly check the roof tiles, flat roofs and terraces, patios and gardens, look for cracks in the paint work outside and of course inside for any signs of damp.

Any properties we do find with damp or mould, we recommend that our cleaning team comes in and thoroughly cleans and ventilates the place and if required we leave a dehumidifier in the property to really dry it out. Once this unusual weather ends and the spring arrives, we will be advising all properties that did have damp over the winter to have the property painted. This gets rid of any lingering smell of damp, covers up any marks it might have left and also protects the house for the future.

If you would like us to come in and check your property and have our maintenance and cleaning division get it looking great again and minimise any long-term damage please let us know. Our comprehensive Costa del Sol property management packages include twice-monthly inspection visits to check the interior and exterior of your property. At each visit we thoroughly air all rooms, check for pests and vermin and recommend action, test all appliances and electrical equipment to make sure all are in good working order, examine all furniture and furnishings for wear and tear, check all sanitary equipment and plumbing and make sure all your security services and equipment are fully functional. If there are any issues, we will email you a report showing any damage, identify what needs to be done to solve these problems and organise repairs.

This is just one of the services we provide for our clients, others include creating an inventory of the property’s contents and giving you an account in our owners’ area where you can check on your property, book visits and cleaning and be aware of what we’re doing for you. We also have a Helpline, which you or your guests can call during office hours with any issues and an emergency service overnight, plus an emergency call-out facility with qualified staff. With these and many other property management services at your disposal, you know that your property is in safe hands and that it is in optimal condition, no matter what the weather might throw at us!

Record Breaking September Continues the Good News for Spain

Record Breaking SeptemberAs we mentioned in our last post, summer was incredible – with record tourist numbers in Spain seen throughout the peak season. Those owners who were marketing their property correctly and had a desirable home did better than ever and we saw a big increase in holiday rentals.

Typically the peak season is June to August, but this year it seems like more people decided to take advantage of the amazing September weather and cheaper flights and come for an autumn getaway. Aena (the network of Spanish airports) recently reported that they had their best September ever, with an impressive 5% increase compared to last year. The Costa del Sol’s main airport Malaga did very well, with 1.53 million passengers in September, a 3.6% increase from the year before and September certainly felt busier than normal on the streets and in the restaurants of the larger towns. Read the full article

Visitors who decided to come to the Costa del Sol in September were rewarded with incredible weather, with temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s and plenty of warm sunshine.  We hope due to the popularity of September this year and the great weather, that this time of the year will continue to grow and will extend the traditional high season until the beginning of October. It’s something we’re working hard to encourage, as an extra month of rentals is highly valuable to property owners.

The Costa del Sol is a great year round destination and we promote the area all year round to try and capture off peak bookings for couples without children, or the October half term holiday crowd who want some winter sun. However, if you want your property to be rented over the cooler months, please make sure it is prepared properly, otherwise it can feel bleak for holiday makers.

We recommend that you invest in some duvets and blankets for the beds, some curtains which can be hung during the colder months and give both the impression of warmth and an excellent barrier to drafts. A few well-placed rugs make people feel at home and take away from the cold of the marble floors and oil-filled radiators are excellent at warming a property cost-effectively.

Check your glazing if you’re really serious about winter rentals, as often windows and doors let in a lot of cold air and so new windows or heavy curtains are required for people to feel comfortable. The best thing for winter rentals is to have a wood burner with a door (this is the most effective for heating a property) or an open fire, as this makes the colder evenings into an occasion and it’s so pretty and special.

We can help you to prepare your property for a winter rental and market it with this in mind, so please just ask for Costa del Sol property rentals advice. As experts in property management and rentals management, we can give you the right advice depending on your objectives and how much you’re willing to spend.

Important information for Owners of Spanish Property

passport_ukAs property management specialists, we help hundreds of property owners to manage their properties on the Costa del Sol and keep our fingers on the pulse to make sure they are aware of changes even if they don’t live here, or speak Spanish. There are a few new regulations and developments which we have shared with our owners over the last few months which we wanted to share with you, to make sure you don’t have any nasty surprises.

Confirming your identity with your bank

Have you received an email from your Spanish bank asking you to confirm your identity? Many people have deleted these emails assuming they were scam emails, when in fact they were genuine and not confirming your identity can result in having your accounts frozen. Your bank needs to have a digital ID for every customer to protect against money laundering. You will probably have provided this to your bank if you opened your account after 2010, but if you opened it before then and haven’t confirmed your identity, we recommend contacting your bank as soon as possible to see what you need to do. Find out more

Ensuring you have the right electricity meters

New Spanish and European regulations require the introduction of smart meters to encourage consumers to play an active role in the electricity market and thus improve energy efficiency. To comply with these regulations, Endesa is replacing all meters for customers with contracted power of up to 15 kW i.e. residential properties. If you have received a letter from Endesa recently or a visit to your property, it will probably have been about this, so check if you’re not sure. Please do be careful about people visiting your property to replace your meter, Endesa warn that under no circumstances should you pay the technician that replaces your meter. There is no charge for this service and the good news is that now billing will be made on readings rather than estimates and more work can be carried out remotely. More information

Why WiFi?

Modern holiday rental guests are looking for different things compared to a few years ago, and one of the main requirements is WiFi! Statistics show that holiday homes that have WiFi installed in them are more likely to get bookings. Most holidaymakers do not leave home without some sort of device and we are receiving more enquiries asking whether WiFi is available. WiFi is also a great solution to problems with receiving International TV stations.

Please let us know if we can help you resolve any issues with your property, we are here to help our Costa del Sol property management clients to make owning a second home as easy as possible. Visit our website for a quote

Is your property ready for Easter rentals?

home-handsEaster is considered the start of the peak season on the Costa del Sol and sees an influx of tourists for the lovely spring weather, wonderful Easter parades and because it’s a short haul destination it’s perfect for families to spend the Easter school holidays. Don’t be caught out and not have your property prepared for Easter, as it’s early this year starting on 25th March.

It’s important that your property has been well aired if it’s been shut up over the winter and we’d suggest heating it before any guests arrive to take off the chill. Check your paintwork for signs of damp (which often arises over the winter) and also general wear and tear, there is time for us to come in and paint your property before the Easter bookings arrive, but please don’t leave it too late, as you need the paint to dry and to air the property so it doesn’t smell of paint. We can offer some great tips for preparing for 2016 rental season, along with our special offers to paint your property, so don’t hesitate in contacting us for our professional advice and assistance.

There are a few really nice touches that you can make inexpensively to make an Easter trip to the Costa del Sol really special for your holiday guests. First, pick up the Easter programme from your local tourist office so that they can easily see the parades and special activities going on in the local area. Second, pop down to a nearby international supermarket such as Supersol, Supercor or Iceland and buy a few Easter Eggs for your guests, they will love the thought, and it’s a really nice touch as they are not as widely available as they are in the UK. If you’re not here but you’d like to prepare something like this, we can put a welcome pack in for the guests, which are always well received.

Make sure that the property is warm enough and that you have enough bedding to make it cozy, as although the day time temperatures can be high at this time of year, nights are still chilly and the properties tend to be cold after the winter. Leave logs if you have an open fire so they can warm the place up right away. Also, this is a time of spring showers, so leave an umbrella for them so they are prepared.

Small touches like this make all the difference for a successful rental and give you the best chance of repeat bookings. If you would like our Costa del Sol property maintenance team to visit your property and see what needs to be done, or would simply like our cleaners to visit the property, air and heat it and give it a thorough clean, we can arrange everything for you. Please call + 34 952 83 95 95 or email info@homecareontheweb.com as soon as you can to get prepared.

The tourism benefits of a lower Euro

CurrencyAs the Euro continues to weaken against the Pound, the Eurozone becomes more and more attractive for British tourists as their money now goes so much further. Also thanks to unrest and uncertainty in holiday hot spots such as Greece and Egypt, Spain should be set for another great year for tourists. Last year, Spain was also recognised as one of the cheapest holiday destination by The Post Office survey and with favourable exchange rates, this is set to get even better for tourists and make Spain a really attractive option for holidays in 2015, good news for property owners renting their holiday home.

At HomeCareontheWeb, we are seeing both an increase in visitors, but also a growing demand for holiday rental properties on the Costa del Sol, particularly from the family market. They enjoy the flexibility of a home from home where they can cook, relax and let the kids feel settled whilst they are on holiday, and we have been providing this for the last 11 years. Last year we saw a 35% increase in holiday rental bookings, and are always looking for quality properties to meet the demand.

If you own a property on the Costa del Sol and want to take advantage of the influx of tourists this year, then you should consider renting your property out for holiday rentals during the peak season from April to September. This can be highly profitable for home owners and a great way to maximise income from an investment when you are not using it. Particularly in demand are villas with pools and properties in a good location where you don’t need a car to reach shops, bars and amenities. We have a guide on what to consider when renting your property which can really help if you’re thinking about taking this step. If you have a holiday home in Spain which you think would fit the bill, please call + 34 952 83 95 95 or email info@homecareontheweb.com

If you are from the UK, then you can open a Spanish bank account to keep your rental income in so you don’t have to convert the money whilst the Euro is so weak and then you can enjoy that the next time you visit your property, or transfer it when the Euro recovers. Make sure you shop around though, many Spanish banks have a lot of charges for their accounts which you may not expect.

Spanish economy and house prices recovering

growthBack in August Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was optimistic about the recovery of the Spanish economy and on the back of a strong summer for tourism, it seems like his positivity was well founded. “Things are going better than we expected. We are registering healthy and diversified growth which is here to stay,” he said during an annual end of term press conference. “In less than two years we have gone from being an economy on the brink of a bailout to being one of the economies that grows the most in Europe,” he added. “We are going in the right direction, but we are conscious that there is still much to do and the problems that we must tackle are still numerous.”

It’s great to see positivity about the economy, all be it cautious statements such as these, promoted in the press, as positivity breeds confidence and confidence leads to a more rapid recovery. Another marker of an improving economy is house prices, which all owners who bought in the boom are anxiously watching. According to the Association of Registrars, there was an increase of 0.97% in house prices in the second quarter of 2014, the first in six years. Whilst not a big shift, it’s good news for owners as it shows that things are moving in the right direction and it seems at last that prices are bottoming out. This is also a figure for the whole of the country, we are lucky to be in a region which recovers quicker due to the foreign buyers and tourists pushing up the local economy and house prices, and agents on the Costa del Sol are reporting much better sales, more demand and increasing prices, so watch this space.

In further good news for Andalucia, very positive investments into the local economy can be seen, such as Fujitsu signing an agreement to invest nine million euros over the next two years, including increasing the workforce at the Malaga factory by at least 30%. There are also positive signs a plenty such as Marbella being chosen to host the Michelin Guide presentation and positioning itself as a luxury location on par with Saint Tropez.

All those of us invested in Spain, be it through property, business or living here want it to do well and recover for the long term. It is a wonderful place to live, work and holiday and we look forward to seeing what the rest of 2014 holds.

2014 was our 11th Year in business and we’ve seen a lot of changes as you can imagine. Attitudes of Costa del Property owners towards caring for their property through property management and maximising their investment through short term and long term rentals have changed a lot depending on the economy. We are proud that we’ve been able to generate income through getting rental bookings for our clients and removed the stress by managing those clients for them. This has enabled many clients to hang on to their properties through the bad years so they have not lost money on their investment. We are now seeing renewed interest in buy to let investment properties and look forward to the next phase!

Keeping up to date with Marbella Town Hall developments

mi marbella v2As a property owner in the Marbella district (from Cabopino to San Pedro) it’s important that you keep in touch with changes to the rules and regulations from the Town Hall. However, in the past this has been hard for property owners who do not live in the area or who do not speak Spanish.

Over the years they have been working hard to create a strong and helpful foreign residents department, which they are creating a larger building to house it in. But now they have taken another positive step and launched a radio programme in English called Mi Marbella where Town Hall representatives come in to talk about changes, rules and regulations and respond to listeners’ questions. This offers a new and useful channel of communication with the Town Hall in English and is a great way to air views.

The show also covers issues relevant to foreign residents in general, interviews local businesses, talks about upcoming events and generally gets people talking about what it means to own property, live and work in Marbella. It is broadcast at 3.30pm – 5 pm, Wednesdays to Fridays and you can listen online here http://rtv.marbella.es/radio/radio-online.html

The local expat newspapers are also available online and are great sources of information. Here are the three main ones which are available for free online:

Euroweekly News

Sur in English

The Olive Press

We also make sure our owners are aware of all the relevant legislation about owning and renting their property and we’re here to help. If you have any questions about the laws regarding renting out your property on the Costa del Sol, taxes and fees associated with buying and owning property please feel free to ask our property management experts.

A Very Happy Easter on the Costa del Sol

easter_malagaIf you are already renting out your Costa del Sol property, you should have experienced the benefits of the record Easter Week we’ve just experienced and be ready for another great summer generating income out of your property. If you haven’t yet taken the leap into renting your property, it’s a great time to get started and if this years Easter Week is anything to go on it will be a fantastic summer.

Reports from business owners, hotels and owners of rental companies were the same – this Easter saw not only more people, but also people who spent more and stayed longer. The newspaper SUR revealed that hotels in Malaga were 90% full from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, way up on last year. In Vélez-Málaga tourist apartments registered an occupancy level of 87% per cent, while campsites were around 71.5% full. Holiday Rental properties showed the same trend says Tony Sidebottom from HomeCareontheWeb, “This Easter we saw a 24% increase in visitors and we also saw an increase in demand for longer holiday breaks with more people staying longer than we have in past years.”

This is said to have been Marbella’s best Easter for the past seven years, according to the mayor, Ángeles Muñoz, who says that the average occupancy level was 90 per cent, which is not only 20 per cent higher than at the same time last year but has also broken the trend of recent years and the shops, bars and restaurants all reported excellent takings over the period and a wonderful atmosphere.

HomeCareontheWeb can take all the stress out of renting your property, short or long term, by offering property management and rental management services, bringing you clients, making sure your property is well looked after and responding to tenants’ needs. Please contact us to find out how we can help -+ 34 952 83 95 95, info@homecareontheweb.com, or get a property management quote.

Be ready for a raft of changes on Spanish roads

traficoIf you own a home in Spain and will be visiting this summer, or are renting out your property and want to keep your tenants informed, you need to be aware of a raft of changes that have been brought into place which will affect you as a motorist, passenger or even a cyclist.

Parents need to be aware of a few very important new laws –

  1. Cyclists under 16 must wear helmets in urban areas and parents not making their children wear helmets can be fined 200€
  2. Children under 1.35 meters tall are not allowed to ride in the front passenger seat and this also applies in taxis. The only allowances to this law are 2 seater cars, or if other children under the height limit are taking up all the back seats.

These laws also clamp down further on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, increasing fines and also making it easier to penalise for driving under the influence of drugs, even if they can’t prove that it effects your driving. Even pedestrians may now have to take a drug and alcohol test if they violate a traffic regulation.

For foreign residents driving foreign cars in Spain, they must now register their vehicles and the terms will be clarified in due course and we will update you when we hear more.  Beware as well that you are not supposed to use speed camera detectors and should turn them off even on your GPS. If you’re caught using them you are liable to a fine of 200€ and three points.

To aid in payment, there is now an extension on the time that you have to pay fines and be eligible for a 50% early payment discount from 15 to 20 days.

The Resident newspaper has got a great list of the 20 most important rules clearly explained in English which you can read here – http://theresident.eu/new-traffic-legislation-comes-into-force-in-june/ and we have other information about driving in Spain for you here –

https://www.homecareontheweb.com/blog/new-law-for-expat-drivers/

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