Ley de Costa: restrictions on property rights

The Ley de Costa may well cause surprises when buying or selling a Spanish property located on the coast. After all, this law has an impact on your property rights. Therefore, this article will explain the Ley de Costa summary explanation.

What is the Ley de Costa?

The Ley de Costa, or the Coastal Act, was introduced in 1988 ( and amended in 2014) because of ecological considerations, among others. In essence, the law divides the coastal strip into several zones that significantly restrict property rights. We explain three zones.

ley de costa

Public domain: the beach and dunes

The beach and dunes are public domain and property rights to the land belong to the State. However, existing houses in this zone are not necessarily illegal. If the structures were completed in accordance with the regulations in place at the time and before the entry into force of the Ley de Costa, a transitional measure applies.

The State could initially grant a 30-year concession for the use of the property. Thanks to a reform of the law, the term can be extended to 2063. After the concession period expires, you may lose your rights to the property, but can obtain compensation.

Protected zone: 100m inland

However, you can own private property in this zone. However, there are restrictions. Properties had to be built before 1988 in the then residential zones. You can no longer extend the existing structures. Also, the zone within 20m of the demarcation line between the protected zone and the public domain must be free.

Wider zone: 500m inland

Within these, you can also own private property, but different restrictions also apply here, depending on the municipality to municipality. For example, consider high-rise buildings.


If you are considering buying a property near the coast, take into account the zones of the Ley de Costa. Before buying, it is best to study the urban planning situation thoroughly. After all, there may be serious restrictions on your future property rights. Know that the Spanish notary does not advise you on this.

Read more about buying safely in Spain.

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