The usufruct is a figure that is commonly used in the management and enjoyment of real estate. In this post, we tell you what a beneficial owner is and detail the rights and obligations that affect them.

How is a beneficial owner defined?

A beneficial owner is defined as a person who enjoys a property of which he or she is not the owner. Thus, this legal figure allows he or she to enjoy, in this case, a property, but without having the right to sell it. The right of usufruct can be granted by the owner of the property by means of a contract or through a will.

It is important to note that the right of usufruct is different from the right of ownership. The beneficial owner can only enjoy that property. On the other hand, the owner of the property has the right to repossess it once the usufruct ends.

The usufruct is a useful tool for those who wish to enjoy the property of another person without owning it, but it is very important to know the conditions and obligations that derive from it.

What are the rights of a beneficial owner?

The beneficial owner has a number of rights that both the usufructuary and the owner of the property must respect. Some of the most important rights are the following:

Right of use and enjoyment

The beneficial owner has the right to use the dwelling in accordance with its purpose and use. This means that he/she can enjoy it in the same way as the owner would, as long as he/she does not damage it.

He can also enjoy whatever is related to the property, such as parking spaces, storage rooms and common areas. Furthermore, as the property is considered to be the beneficial owner’s home, he or she can refuse entry to the owner.

Right to rent the property

Even if he is not the owner of the property, the beneficial owner has the right to rent it out or transfer it to a third party without having to ask for prior authorisation. If he rents the property, he is also entitled to receive the fruits resulting from the rental. It must always be borne in mind that any contracts entered into by the beneficial owner in respect of the property terminate with the end of the usufruct.

Right to manage the property

The beneficial owner has the right to manage the property, and to make the necessary decisions for its conservation and use. This includes the right to carry out necessary repairs, to contract services, etc., as long as this does not alter the form or substance of the property.

what is beneficial owner

What are the obligations of a beneficial owner?

In addition to rights, there are also obligations for the beneficial owner with which he must comply:

Preservation of the property

The beneficial owner has the obligation to preserve the property and keep it in good condition. The Civil Code states that he or she must “take care of the things given in usufruct like a good father of a family”. In fact, if the “abuse” of the property is detrimental to the owner, the latter may request that the property be handed over to him/her.

Compensation of expenses

The beneficial owner “is obliged to make the ordinary repairs that the things given in usufruct need”, which are “those required by the deterioration or damage that come from the natural use of the things and are indispensable for their conservation”. In addition, the owner can carry out ordinary repairs at the expense of the beneficial owner.

Warning of the need for extraordinary repairs

If extraordinary repairs are urgently needed, the beneficial owner must inform the owner. In this case, they would be at the expense of the owner of the property, unlike ordinary repairs.

Paying taxes

The beneficial owner is responsible for paying the taxes due on the property. “The payment of the annual charges and contributions and of those considered as encumbrances on the fruits, shall be for the account of the beneficial owner for the entire duration of the usufruct”.

Returning the property

At the end of the usufruct period, the beneficial owner must return the property in the same condition in which he received it. According to the Civil Code, “at the end of the usufruct, the usufructed thing shall be delivered to the owner, except for the right of retention that belongs to the beneficial owner or his heirs for the disbursements that must be returned. Upon delivery, the bond or mortgage shall be cancelled. The beneficial owner may not do anything that hinders or limits the owner’s right to recover the property at the end of the usufruct period.

These are some of the most common obligations of a beneficial owner. There may be additional obligations depending on the specific agreement in place.

what is beneficial owner

What to do on the death of the beneficial owner

When the usufruct is for life, it is automatically extinguished when the beneficial owner dies. Thus, the owner regains possession of the property and must cancel the usufruct in the Land Registry, providing the death certificate of the deceased.

On the other hand, if the usufruct is not for life and the usufructuary dies before the expiry of the period established in the agreement, the usufruct is passed on to his designated heir or heirs until the period expires. If the beneficial owner dies without having designated a successor, the ownership of the property passes directly to the heirs of the beneficial owner. It is important to note that in this case, the heirs only acquire ownership of the property, not the right of usufruct.

However, it is advisable to consult a lawyer specialised in inheritance law for more information on any obligations or liabilities that may arise after the death of the beneficial owner.

We hope you found this post useful! And, if you are thinking of investing in housing, at Sonneil we offer residential properties close to the sea in privileged areas and of the highest quality.