Buying in the Spanish interior: pitfalls

Potential buyers of housing or land in Spain's interior are often confronted with restrictions on their property rights. For instance, residential areas are divided into urbanised residential areas, non-urbanised residential areas and semi-urbanised residential areas. Depending on the classification, rules apply that impact have on the (building and rental possibilities. This article will explain the different classifications and their implications.

Urbanised residential areas

Urbanised residential areas are zones where essential infrastructure has been completed. Think of utilities such as water pipes, electricity connections, sewers, roads, etc. If a building plot is located in this residential area, you are free to build or remodel - subject to respecting local laws.

As a rule, in urbanised residential areas, you do not experience restrictions on your property rights.

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

Non-urbanised residential areas

In a non-urbanised residential area, the situation is reversed. Here, the necessary utilities are missing.

If you are considering building a house here, you will have to wait for the utilities to be installed. Meanwhile, you cannot apply for planning permission.

Existing properties in this area are usually illegal. The municipality can then expropriate all or part of you to start infrastructure works, for example.

On top of that, you will have no security of supply of water and electricity, for example.

Read more about the common problems with single-family houses in rural Spain. 

Semi-urbanised residential areas

A semi-urbanised residential area exists if the required infrastructure works and utilities are only partially constructed. These are often unfinished urbanisations, such as streets yet to be laid, connecting sewers and water pipes. (In practice, septic tanks and wells are then in place, for example).

Existing buildings in these residential areas are legal. However, current structures cannot be extended. Also, the certificate of conformity will not be present. The latter results in you not being able to rent out the property to tourists. Moreover, there is a chance that the municipality may charge you certain costs to provide the necessary infrastructure works.

Read more about the conformity certificate.

In the Spanish interior, there are several semi-urbanised residential areas. Consider the regions around Valencia (Torrent, Montroy, Montserrat, Godelleta etc.) or Alicante (Moraira, Campello, Benidoleig, Denia etc.).

Buying in this residential area is normally not a problem if you wish to use the property as a second residence or permanent residence. However, if you are looking for a property to rent out to tourists or to start a commercial activity there (e.g. a B&B), a property in a semi-urbanised residential area is not a good idea.

Read more about renting out in Spain.

Buying in the Spanish interior: decision

When looking for a property in the Spanish interior, you would do well to check in which urban planning zone the property is located. Even if the property is located in a residential area, there may still be certain restrictions or violations.

Read more about buying a building plot in Spain.

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