Costa del SolLegal stuff and the law on the Costa del Sol, Spain

It Is hugely important when considering buying a property in Spain that all legal items and precautionary checks are carried out to ensure that the property complies fully with Spanish law and building regulations. On the face of it that may seen a fairly obvious statement, who in their right mind wouldn’t carry out such checks? Well, it seems that history is littered with cases where exactly that has happened, very much a case of checking brains along with luggage on arrival at the airport! In reality that was then and this is now, and people have become much more aware of the need to acquaint themselves with the legalities of buying and living in a foreign country. But it is always worth highlighting a few areas that may be a little less well known than others, and in this blog that is what I will attempt to do. So if you’re considering a purchase here on the sunny Costa del Sol this may be worth a quick read over a cup of coffee.

The Law

Spanish law is very clear that in order to carry out any work on your property the appropriate permissions must be sought and granted by the local town hall. Please don’t be fooled into thinking these apply only to adding an extension or installing a full swimming pool, they are much more extensive than that. Minor works also require permission and these must be in place before one spade full of earth is removed. Want to put glass curtains in to enclose a terrace? Obtain a permit. Fancy a new shed in the garden? Obtain a permit. These may sound very trivial matters for which permission may be required but that is not the way the local Spanish councils see it, and after all it is their opinion that is the only one that matters. Be advised, a little effort at the start can save a huge amount of heartbreak, and money, further down the road. And be wary, builders may assure you that licences aren’t required for certain works but they may also just want to get on with job; the very bottom line is that it is the homeowner who is ultimately responsible for ensuring the legality of any works, not the builders. So don’t open yourself up to hefty fines, or even worse to having to watch your lovely new project being bulldozed, do the leg work at the start and enjoy watching your new project take shape safe in the knowledge that you have covered all bases.

The regulations around clamping down on illegal building work have recently increased. Prior to new legislation, town halls would not usually take action against work done before the 20th August 2010 after four years had elapsed since completion of the works. Since this date refurbishments and similar building work must have remained unchallenged for 15 years. After this time period, the town hall no longer had the legal power to intervene even though the work may still not have been entirely legal. However, this is now expected to change for rustic properties. Try to keep yourself abreast of the law, any lawyer will be happy to advise and we will also be happy to guide you should you require it.

Various legal items and laws are changing and there are some important modifications that people should be aware of.  The  most  important change could be that in rustic areas there will be no time limit against illegal constructions. Whenever the work was done, you can still be required to apply for the correct planning permissions. If the land is not considered to be suitable for the purpose you can even be required to demolish the work done.

Illegal constructions are vulnerable if they are not legalised before this new law comes into force. No future renovations will be possible where the work is illegal and any building work can be demolished by the town hall. In addition, it will not be possible to declare any new works on deeds. In serious cases, failure or refusal to conform to the new legal requirements could lead to the compulsory purchase of your property.

If you are hoping to sell your property the buyer will want to purchase a totally legal and registered property. This will not be possible unless any refurbishments are legalised. Where a mortgage is being applied for then the bank will only value the property according to what is shown on the Land Registry. I don’t need to tell you how incredibly important this is; failure to act in accordance with the law will put your investment and your property seriously at risk, it really isn’t worth the gamble. So, whether you’re looking to make some small changes to a fully legal property, or are considering purchasing  an existing property, do your homework. Invest in some quality legal advice  and enjoy the fruits of your labour, it definitely makes sense in the long run.

Legal stuff and the law on the Costa del Sol, Spain