Construction violations in Spain

Building violations usually occur for detached houses in Spain, mainly in rural areas. If you are considering buying a property in Spanish rural areas, it is important to be aware of any building violations beforehand.

How do construction violations occur?

On the one hand, the most common building violations relate to minor additional works on the property. For example, it is common for previous owners to install a swimming pool in the garden without applying for or registering a permit for it. These are therefore often minor works.

On the other hand, there are houses that were built without planning permission, for example because they do not comply with the local urban development plan. In that case, there is illegal construction.

In Andalusia, however, there has recently been a possibility to regularise illegal constructions.

What are the consequences of building violations in Spain?

This depends on the nature of the building violation. If it involves minor alterations to the house, the consequences are all in all limited. After all, the chance of being caught by the municipality is virtually nil. In a subsequent sale or inheritance, however, the violations can be discovered because the actual situation of the property no longer corresponds to the data in the land register and cadastre. You then have to regularise these points, which delays the sale or inheritance procedure.

The modifications to the structure also affect the cadastral value and hence the annual tax payable.

In case the house itself was built illegally, the situation is different. This could potentially have greater consequences. For instance, the property may be subject to a fine or even a demolition order. In practice, the main consequence is that you will have to pay the building may no longer be extended or rebuilt.

Finally, it may not be possible to obtain a tourist rental licence.

Can construction violations be time-barred?

In principle, building violations can be time-barred. In the Comunidad Valenciana, the limitation period is 15 years. However, since 2019, there is no limitation period for building violations on structures in rural areas.

Housing in semi-urbanised areas

Semi-urbanised areas have a residential use, but the urbanisation is not finished: essential infrastructure is (partially) absent. Think paved roads, street lighting, access to utilities, etc. In principle, these are also building violations.

Read more about the pros and cons of urbanisations in Spain.

If the property was built in an unfinished urbanisation, the municipality may require all owners within the urbanisation to help pay for its completion. Also, the municipality can partially expropriate your land in order to install utilities.

Read more about the pitfalls when buying a Spanish home in the interior.

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