The importance of the habitation certificate in Spain

What is a habitation certificate?

Habitation certificate in Spain

The habitation certificate is one of the key documents you must have when you come to sell your house in Spain. We explain what it is, why you need it and what you should do if you  cannot find it.

When you buy a property in Spain amongst the documents you must have is the habitation certificate or cédula de habitabilidad. This is a certificate that means that the property complies with the town hall's habitation requirements. It's an important document to have for purchasers of a resale property and it is the responsibility of the seller to pass it on to the purchaser.

It is valid for approximately ten years, after which, you will need to renew the habitation certificate if you come to sell your property. This is where it is important to be prepared.

Do not leave your search for the certificate until the last minute as you will not want to lose your sale. Make sure you check early in the sales process that you have everything that you need. A good solicitor should help you with this.

If your property is brand new then it will have been issued with what's called a first occupancy licence or Licencia de Primera Ocupación. This indicates that the property developer has fulfilled all obligations and that the property is ready for occupation.

The first occupancy licence is then replaced at a later stage by the habitation certificate and will continue as this in the future. Many people do not change it over immediately. There is no need. It is only when you want to sell your property on or when it is passed on through inheritance that a new certificate is required.

The habitation certificate is a vital document that you will need to enable you to change the name on the utility bills as a new owner.  This is important, as the bill must be in the correct name for you to make changes such as choosing a new rate or contract when it comes to electricity and water.

A good solicitor will make sure that a habitation certificate is in place and that the property fulfills the habitation laws. It might seem like just another piece of paper but if you don't have it you could be storing up problems for yourself in the future.

How to get a habitation certificate in Spain?

If for some reason you never had it in the first place or you cannot find it, then you can apply for another one. This will have to be obtained from the town hall and you will need to pay for the replacement. Again, your solicitor should be able to help you apply if you do not have one to hand.

The first occupancy and habitation certificates are there to ensure that the property you buy has been passed as having been built to plan. It is meant as a check on the responsibilities of the builder and that they have finished off the property as originally proposed. In the past, failure to do this has caused problems when new owners tried to make changes to their electricity contracts, for example.

If you are not sure if you have a valid habitation certificate then you can contact us and we will check on your behalf. If you do have a buyer in the wings, the last thing you want is to lose them through not having the correct paper work to hand.

You will also want to ensure that those inheriting your property from you do not have difficulties in doing so when the time comes. Making sure that the habitation certificate is available is one of the ways you can enable a smooth transition of ownership to take place.