Legalisation of illegally constructed properties in Spain: Can my property be legalised?

Legalisation of illegally constructed properties in Spain: Can my property be legalised?

As every foreigner living in Spain is more than aware, Spain has been receiving a lot of media attention for its large amount of illegally constructed properties extended all over the country, and the attempts being made by local and regional governments to facilitate the legalisation of said constructions.

This post applies to properties built on both urban and rustic land in the region of Andalucía, as the details can vary from one autonomous region to another.


Historically building regulations in Spain have been largely ignored, especially in the countryside. As a result Spain has been left littered with all manner of illegal buildings, such as:

  • Properties constructed without any building permission being obtained at all.
  • Properties constructed with little regard to the plans submitted and the building permit issued (i.e. construction in excess of the square metres permitted by the permit).
  • Older properties extended during renovations without obtaining building permission, or registering or declaring any extensions built.

Rustic Land and Protected Rustic Land

Land classification is extremely important in determining if there is a solution. Generally it is possible to legalise buildings on rustic land, but to legalise buildings on protected rustic land is almost unfeasible.

General conditions for legalisation

The regional government of Andalucia (Junta de Andalucía) has attempted to clarify the legal status of such illegal buildings and provide a mechanism to legalise or regularise where possible, as long as certain requirements are met:

  • That more than 6 years have passed since the completion of the construction (previously 4 years under old legislation).
  • The property is not part of an urban planning disciplinary procedure or a judicial process.
  • The construction does not occupy land under special protection or cattle trails.

AFO Certificate (Cerificado de asimilado a fuera de ordenación)

An illegally constructed property, which is able to be legalised, may be legalised by applying for a Certificado de fuero de ordenación or Certificado de asimilado a fuera de ordenación. The process involves synchronising and presenting a series of documentation to the planning department of the local Town Hall.

Each Town Hall charges a local tax in relation to the value of the square meters being legalised. The rate of tax varies from one local government to another and will depend, therefore, on the municipal area the construction is located in.

In addition to this, the property’s Land Registry records will have to be rectified to avoid any future difficulties.



This is an incredibly complex process and no two properties are the same. The mere fact that a property pays rates (IBI) and is connected to utilities (i.e. electricity, water, etc.) does not mean that the property is legally sound. It is because of the complexity of this process that we recommend seeking legal advice from professionals familiar with these procedures, so as to avoid unnecessary expense and complications.

Gabriella Mary Trussler Rowland
4408 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Almería

Changes to the regulation of holiday rentals in Andalucia: Owners’ new obligations

Changes to the regulation of holiday rentals in Andalucia: Owners’ new obligations

As you may already be aware, Spain’s Law of Urban Rentals (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos) was reformed in June 2013. Included in that reform was a key decision to transfer from the central government, to the autonomous regions of Spain, the responsibility of regulating holiday rentals agreements (holiday rentals are considered to be those which are of a period of two months or less).

This transfer of responsibility lead to an absence of legislation across the board, as many regional governments (including that of Andalucia) did not previously have in place their own independent regulation regarding holiday rentals. This led to a considerable number of fines being levied on owners for non-compliance, who found themselves unable to comply as a result of this conflict between central and regional legislation on the subject.

Following a considerable delay, (caused largely as a result of the temporary suspension of the Junta de Andalucía in 2013) the regulation of holiday rentals in Andalucía was finally approved in February of this year and came into effect on 11th May 2016.


Registration as a holiday rental

The regulation introduces, among many other obligations, the obligation of all owners of properties offered for holiday rentals to register said property with the Tourism Registry of Andalucia, as it is now considered that holiday rentals constitute a tourism service.

Registration of a holiday rental property with the Tourism Registry is compulsory in order to advertise your property in any way (e.g. estate agencies, accommodation websites, etc.) and the breach of this obligation, or any of the other extensive number of obligations contained in the new regulation, may result in an owner being liable for a fine of up to 18,000 €.


Additional obligations

In addition to the principal obligation to register the property, owners are required to make sure that their property and the service being provided meet certain standards and other conditions, as demanded by the regional government of Andalucia, all of which are subject to inspection by its Department of Tourism.

These are similar to those imposed on other forms of tourist accommodation, and relate to matters such as:

  • Legal licences and technical requirements of the property, including cooling and heating systems.
  • Safety and first aid equipment.
  • Standard and condition of bedding.
  • Hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Tenants logbook.
  • Tourist information and literature.
  • Provision of complaint forms.

It has, therefore, now become essential that property owners offering their property for holiday rentals are fully aware of all their obligations in order to avoid the risk of substantial fines being imposed in the event of any breach of the new regulations.


Gabriella Mary Trussler Rowland
4408 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Almería