Ruling 749/2015, of Courtroom One of the Supreme Court, dated 30 December 2015.
Ruling 749/2015 confirms an earlier ruling issued by the Barcelona Provincial Court, in favour of the plaintiff and lessor, decreeing the termination of the lease agreement (as regulated by the repealed Urban Leases Act of 1964) evicting the defendant and tenant from the leased property, and ordering payment of the owed sums for waste collection tax, including the legal interest accrued. The tenant filed an appeal against the Provincial Court's ruling, which was given leave to proceed
In this ruling, the Supreme Court examined whether or not the amount of the waste collection tax should be considered a part of rent payment or not, so that its non-payment may constitute a reason for terminating the rental agreement pursuant to the Urban Leases Act of 1964.
The Supreme Court also examined whether other items such as property tax or cost of services and utilities are included, and explained that any sums the legislator has allocated to the tenant as part of the remuneration are considered to be included sums, especially those closely linked to the use and enjoyment of the property. The Supreme Court further explained that this is an open formula which must be completed with the expenses established at each given time by applicable legislation, as in this case is the waste collection tax in Granollers (Barcelona).
As a result, the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of the Barcelona Provincial Court, stating that the waste collection tax must be considered to be an amount assimilated to the rent in this case, and that non-payment of said sums in accordance with the provisions of the Urban Rentals Act of 1964 allowed the lessor to terminate the lease agreement, since this leads to a serious breach by the tenant.
The Supreme Court a number of arguments in reaching this conclusion.
Firstly, the lease agreement between the parties was regulated by the Urban Leases Act of 1964, and not by the current law. Accordingly, the Court stated that it is necessary to consult this act to ascertain what it considers to be amounts assimilated to the rent. Consequently, according to the previous law, there are sums included in the rent which the tenant is legally obliged to pay.
The Supreme Court stated that tenants protected by the previous law have indefinite extension rights, affording them the maximum protection available. In this context, the Court found that it was logical that said maximum protection corresponds with compliance of the tenant's obligations and, pursuant to the Spanish Civil Code, it was necessary to take into account the spirit and purpose of the regulations. The purpose of the previous law in this case is merely to protect the lessor or owner in connection with breaches by tenants “with respect to obligations of mandatory observance”.
Hence, the Supreme Court provided an open formula so that for a specific item (such as the waste collection tax) to be considered to be included in the rent, it was necessary to refer to applicable legislation at each given time.
Finally, the Local Tax Authorities Law established that payer of the waste collection tax “is the person or legal entity benefiting from said service”, so that the tenant, rather than the owner, being the person occupying the home or premises, may be the payer of said tax.