Did you know that even minor home improvements and refurbishments need planning permission in Spain? The town hall must give a licence for work to go ahead or you risk a hefty financial penalty. In this article we explain about building licences and what you can do if they’re missing.
You need permission whether it’s building a shed in your garden, turning your balcony into an enclosed conservatory or converting the children’s paddling pool into an Olympic-sized specimen. You must apply to your local town hall for the go-ahead to carry out the work before even starting the project.
If you are having home improvements made to your property then you should check that the correct licences have been applied for. Builders will sometimes indicate that either this isn’t necessary or they have made the application themselves. However, ultimately it is the owner who is responsible and you are liable for fines and sanctions if the correct permits are not in place. Failure to apply can even lead to the demolition or reversal of the project in the worst scenarios.
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 this date, refurbishments and similar building work must have remained unchallenged for 15 years. After this, the town hall no longer had the legal power to intervene even though the work is still not entirely legal. However, this is now expected to change for rustic properties.
The project of new law
The law is changing and there are some important modifications that people should be aware of. The most important change would be, in rustic areas there will be no time limit against illegal constructions. Whenever the work was done, you can 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.
Not worth the risk
Town halls are becoming increasingly vigilant and inspectors do check areas looking out for those who are making changes without the correct licences. It’s not worth the risk.
If it comes to light that there are illegal building works on your property, apart from the general fine, it is possible that you will receive an immediate sanction. The amount could range from anything between €600 and €3,000 for every month upto a maximum of ten months, depending on the severity of the breach. In addition, the town hall can impose a separate fine of between €200 and €2,000 for every ten days with a maximum of ten payments for carrying out illegal building work.
We strongly advise that you apply for any building licence before beginning building work on your property. If the work has already been completed and no licence is in place then you should apply for retrospective planning permission. You should also ensure that any completed work is added to the title deeds, particularly if you have a rustic property.
Our legal department can provide a personalised study of the possibility of obtaining the licence you need. They can also advise where you are at the stage of planning improvements to your property.