Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category


March 11th, 2011

A staggering 11,000 houses are to be legalised in one fell swoop. The plan, which has been announced by the Junta, will give the thumbs-up for the vast majority of illegally-built homes around the Axarquia. While described by environmentalists as ‘giving a free reign to build on rustic land’, it comes as a major boost for homeowners, hundreds of them expats.

Announced at a meeting of the region’s mayors, the Junta’s head of public works, Josefina Cruz, revealed that only 1,500 of the 12,760 homes investigated are now facing demolition. At the meeting on Friday, Cruz explained that the decree was being made out of a necessity to calm the situation down. “This is not an amnesty, but recognition of a reality, and responding to it, but with conditions,” explained Cruz. “What we are doing is recognising the existence of 11,025 homes which can start a process of legalisation.”

However, of the remaining 1,735 properties, 976 are less than four years old, while 859 are deemed to have been illegally built on ‘specially-protected land’ and cannot be made legal. The amnesty also excludes the two areas of Alcaucin and La Vinuela, where thousands more illegal homes have been built and the mayors are facing corruption charges. These will be dealt with separately.

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July 30th, 2009

Marbella’s town council yesterday approved the final draft of a new town-plan that will put an end to more than a decade of town planning chaos that has weighed heavily on the local property market. The plan now goes to the regional government in Seville for final approval.

The new town-plan will replace the existing plan, approved in 1986, that was systematically abused over 15 years by a succession of corrupt mayors, resulting in 18,000 illegal properties in Marbella.

The new plan legalises 16,500 properties in return for compensating the town hall with land and payments to restore public spaces that were lost to private developments. Under the latest draft developers are the only ones on the hook, after Ángeles Muñoz, Marbella’s Mayor, fought to ensure that innocent third party buyers will not be liable for any compensation payments.

Despite macho talk and brinkmanship from the Mayor last week, the new plan will not save the most contentious illegal properties from demolition. Last week Ángeles Muñoz said she would extend the planning amnesty to 500 illegal but occupied properties, against the wishes of the government in Seville. But in the end the new plan she sent to the town council for approval did not offer a way out for the unfortunate owners of properties in the Banana Beach and Rio Real developments. In theory these properties will have to be demolished, along with 1,000 other properties that were built but never sold, as the new plan does not provide for any other solution.

The regional government in Seville is expected to nod through the new plan, which will them come into force. Marbella’s first town plan since 1986 can only be good news for the local property market.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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November 2nd, 2008

Buying property in Spain need not be difficult, but it is important to follow some basic guidelines. First and foremost: use a Spanish lawyer. It really is essential you use a Spanish lawyer. Try and choose one that can communicate with you in your own language so you can ask your questions and know you can understand the answers clearly. There are many Spanish lawyers, especially in Andalucia, who speak excellent English. We are always happy to recommend a lawyer if you do not have one.

There are a certain number of documents that your lawyer must ensure are in order before you complete a purchase:

  • The seller’s own title deed. Know in Spain as the Escritura Pública. This is the registered title deed of the property. It is inscribed in the Registro de la Propiedad, the Property Registry, and it is the only guarantee of title in Spain. In this title deed you will find a description of the property, the details of the owner, if there is a mortgage or court embargo existing on the property.
  • The Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles. The receipt of the owner’s annual property tax, called the IBI. This receipt is very important for two reasons. First, it will provide proof that there are no outstanding taxes due on the property. Ideally, with an old property you should ask to see the last 5 year’s receipts. Second, the IBI receipt will show you the property’s cadastral reference number and also the Valor Catastral, the official assessed value of the property. This is very important because various taxes are based on it.
  • The cadastral certificate. The Catastro is a second system of property registration which concentrates on the location and exact boundaries of the property. The certification comes in two parts, one being a description in words of the property, the other a graphic representation, either by a plan or aerial photograph.

It is important to realise that in Spain until a deposit has been paid and a private contract (agreeing the purchase price) has been signed by the seller and your lawyer, the property is still considered to be for sale and could be sold to anyone making another offer.

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November 2nd, 2008

Brought in to control urban growth and the increase in countryside properties, the Ley del Suelo has spread confusion throughout southern Spain. It has also dashed the hopes of countless Britons and other foreigners intent on retiring to the sun and tending their own little patch of land.

Illegal building had been tolerated in Andalusia. The town halls levied a fine of 5 per cent of building costs for a completed property and issued a permit. Under the new law, fines go up to 400 per cent of building costs, and properties can be demolished.

The aim of the new law is to prevent building on rural land unless it is for agriculture or tourism. It doesn’t matter whether you own five acres or 5,000 – you can’t build a new house. The only exception is that you can redevelop the site of an old property, but you’re restricted to the existing dimensions, and other restrictions may apply. And to add to the confusion, there seem to be different interpretations of the law in different provinces, or even towns.

This law, in force since 2003, is aimed at ensuring urban developments are contained within set rules and rural developments are limited to protect the countryside. Fines have been increased from between 1 and 5 per cent of construction costs to 12 per cent of market value. Even suppliers such as water and electricity companies can be fined for working on sites that don’t meet the requirements of the law.

In rural areas, no building is permitted on land unless for agricultural or residential tourism. New houses can be constructed on the site of existing ruins as long as there is a roof, and only a dwelling house for the farmer is permitted. The law does not cover agricultural buildings. Legal challenges have been brought against the law by Torremolinos council and others on the Costa del Sol have indicated they will follow suit.

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