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Good News for Owners of Illegal Properties in Andalusia

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Regional authorities have come one step closer to regulating the situation of thousands of illegal properties in Andalusia. The proposed modifications of the current law will allow owners of such properties in the region to register their home and contract utilities.
The Andalusian government estimates that around 25,000 homes stand to benefit from the proposed changes. Most are properties in the Axarquia in Malaga and Almanzora in the province of Almeria, currently classified as illegal.
Under the dispositions of the current law – the Andalusian Planning Law (LOUA in Spanish) – these properties cannot currently be registered because they’re built on plots of land classed as ‘rural’ or ‘unbuildable’. The LOUA currently considers their status as illegal with no possibility of registration regardless of how long ago they were built. This means this type of property in Andalusia always carries the risk of demolition creating uncertainty and considerable stress for the homeowners.
But all signs are pointing to a change in this situation through the recent steps taken by the regional authorities. Under the proposed modifications to the LOUA, owners of many illegal homes will be able to register their property in the appropriate land registry and importantly, contract supplies of utilities such as water and electricity.
To qualify under these new proposals, properties in Andalusia will have to fulfill the following conditions:
Properties must have been built at least six years ago.
Properties must not be situated in areas liable to flooding or in protected areas.
Properties must not be subject to any legal or administrative action by the authorities (e.g. building without a licence or building more than permitted by the original licence).
The proposed changes also put the onus on local councils who will be obliged to compile a list of illegal properties in their municipality. This ‘census’ will be used by regional authorities to assess each property on a case-by-case basis.

Regional authorities have said that if local councils cannot compile the list themselves – through lack of means or initiative – the Andalusian government will start charge of identifying these properties. The census should be compiled within two years.

The modifications have been welcomed by owners and local councils, but with the caveat that they have yet to be presented to the Andalusian Parliament who has to approve them (this is expected in the autumn). At Andalusian Lawyers, we believe that, once passed, the new law will bring considerable relief to many owners of illegal properties in Andalusia.
However, we also believe it’s important to point out that the new law will not change the property’s legal status. It will remain illegal, but will no longer be affected by the risk of possible demolition. The regional authorities will ‘recognise’ the property and ‘tolerate’ its presence, a status known in Spanish as ‘asimilado fuera de ordenación’ (AFO).
The proposed changes in the LOUA still mean that extra case is needed if you’re thinking of buying a property in Andalusia in a rural area and you should take professional and independent legal advice from day one. Buying an illegal property, albeit a ‘tolerated’ and ‘recognised’ one, has major implications that only an experienced lawyer will be able to explain properly and correctly to you.
Contact Andalusian Lawyers for more information on how we can help you buy a property in Spain with complete peace of mind. We also provide a free guide offering insight into the process of buying Spanish property and the taxes and fees involved. Download your copy now.

You can also read our recent post about buying a property in inland Andalusia, just click here.

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