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ENGLISH SPEAKING LAWYERS IN MALAGA (ANDALUCIA / COSTA DEL SOL) SPECIALIZED IN PROPERTY LAW & CONVEYANCING

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JUDGEMENT: Bank responsible for bank guarantee developer

Bank responsible for guarantee developer

Bank responsible for guarantee developer

In September 2013 I published an article where I mentioned a judgment rendered by a Court in Albacete on the 8th of June 2012 and that was confirmed by the Provincial Court in the same year. In these proceedings forty-six homebuyers who purchased off-plan houses that were never built -but for which they had made several payments on account- sued the developer and the bank jointly, despite not having bank guarantees for the amounts paid.

As I mentioned in that article this judgment (a first at the time) ordered the bank to refund all the amounts paid by the buyers. It thereby established joint and several liability with the developer of the homes through an interpretation of articles 1 and 2 of Law 57/1968, of 27 July 1968 on the collection of advance payments in the construction and sale of homes.

This however was just an isolated judgment, which did not set precedent. In fact, in the two years since, there have been judgments both in favour and against banks.

These different interpretations have come to an end as, on 21 December 2015, due to the many contradictory judgments the Supreme Court rendered an appeal judgment on this matter. This judgment of the Spanish High Court unifies the criteria to prevent different interpretations by other courts. The Supreme Court is certain about the interpretation of these regulations and ruled in favour of individual homebuyers.

The High Court understands that the credit institutions where homebuyers deposit advance payments to purchase a home under construction, must respond to homebuyers. This refers to cases where the homes are not completed by the developer and the latter has no money or is insolvent, making it impossible for homebuyers to recover any money paid.

In the Fifth Legal Grounds, the last paragraph of the judgment, the Court states that the credit institution has the legal responsibility of a special duty of oversight over the developer to which it issues a loan for the construction of those homes, so that the deposits of homebuyers, especially individuals, are transferred to the special account that developers must open and the bank must require the developer to guarantee all the amounts it collects.

Credit institutions that grant loans to developers to build homes, have the legal obligation of opening a special and separate account, duly guaranteed, so that the amounts that buyers pay for the homes are deposited in that account. If the credit institution does not guarantee that buyers' money is deposited in a special account, it will be held liable for the total amounts deposited by buyers in any type of account held by the developer at the entity.

In other words, if the bank has not ensured the protection of the buyers' money, with this Judgment, there is no longer any legal doubt that the bank will be sentenced to refund, from its own “pocket”, the money paid by homebuyers in cases where the developer does not complete homes and it has no money or becomes insolvent.

In my humble opinion, it seems logical and consistent for the Supreme Court to have settled this matter in favour of homebuyers.

In banking practice, most developers building homes off-plan create a company aimed exclusively at building that development, with these companies usually being devoid of any assets.

From now own, I believe that these loans issued to developers will only be granted after reviewing the solvency and guarantees of the developers thoroughly and that branks will monitor the money that buyers pay for their homes.

In these situations, with this judgment by the Spanish High Court, buyers of homes that are not completed will have the necessary legal certainty to get, through a Judgment, banks to be ordered to refund their money, thereby having more options available to recover the money they lost.

It is very likely that, if this situation arises, now, with this judgment, the bank will choose to avoid legal proceedings and reach a settlement with buyers.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Nerja/Andalucia)

 

RECENT CONTROVERSIAL DEMOLITION OF TWO PROPERTIES

Controvercial demolition properties Andalucia

Controvercial demolition properties Andalucia

Last Monday October 14th, the Regional Andalusia Government Junta de Andalucia carried out the demolition of two houses which  were built without construction permit on non-developable land in the rural area of Las Terreras, in the municipality of Las Canteras, Almeria.

In this case, the developer did not have construction permits to build both properties. This is a different situation from that explained in our blog post in March, but there are also involved third parties in good faith, who bought the aforementioned properties to the developer/seller. The demolition of these properties means the infringement of a fundamental property right according to the interpretation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which has demanded that:

-          People affected by court or administrative proceedings which may imply the loss of their assets shall have the effective and real opportunity to defend their situation.

-          Property loss due to general interest—for example, the compliance of planning legality over ownership of assets—shall be previously compensated to the owner.

Therefore, upon consideration of this European case law, it is not sufficient that in these two cases the judgment has assessed civil liability and the seller-developer is sentenced to compensate owners who bought these properties, but this compensation should be made effective prior to demolitions to avoid the risk that the seller fails to pay or is not able to pay and, as a result of this, third parties in good faith are not compensated. It should be noted that subsidiary liability of public administrations is not observed, as no construction permit was granted.

In order to guarantee the payment of compensations, appropriate actions should be taken prior to execute demolitions in the same proceedings for the enforcement of judgments. If this were possible, this situation should be determined as a reason to stop the judgment enforcement until compensations are paid to the affected owners. Obviously, each case should be analysed in order to determine whether the owner knew about the absence of construction permits and even though he was aware of the risk involved, he bought the property. In these cases, protection for these owners should be different.

Regarding certain information compiled by different means, there is a chronological perspective to be pointed out in respect of these two demolitions, which reveal the inefficiency of inspection and penalty procedures in regards of town-planning regulations, as well as the belligerent approach of public administrations participating:

-          In 2004, the Andalusian Regional Government initiated a proceeding against the developer and he was fined because of the earthmovings in this area. Then, he was obliged to restore it to its original state. Obviously, the developer failed to comply with this order to restore it to its former state. In addition, the Town Council or Andalusia Regional Government should have acted in this moment, as well as they have done now, when carrying out the demolitions.

-          In 2007, the Andalusia Regional Government officially ordered to the Town Council the demolition of the properties, as they have been built on non-developable land without construction permits. From 2004 to 2007, 3 years have elapsed. During this period of time the 4 properties were built and no competent public administrations did paralyze the works before they were completed. As a result of this, the completed houses were entered into legal transactions and then new owners arised. Why were construction works not paralyzed within these years?

-          Once that the 4 properties were completed, the Town Council authorized water and electricity supply for them; this illegal authorization granted by the Town Council implied that these homes were appropriate to be occupied, as these supplies were essential for their sales.

-          In 2012, The Andalusia Regional Government seemed to request the Town Council to execute the demolitions.

-          In October 2013, the demolition of two properties was carried out by the Andalusia Regional Government, because the Town Council did not do so. The other two properties are also pending to be demolished.

Nine years have elapsed since the construction activities without permits are known until their demolitions were indeed executed. During this period of time, third parties in good faith have appeared and been affected by this situation. Have public administrations really done their utmost? Could have they acted earlier and with greater accuracy since 2004?

It would be a rather difficult task to think that the Andalusia Regional Government and Town Councils are not liable for a large number of homes built without permits on non-developable land in Andalusia—liability becomes obvious for those properties built with construction permits—since they had aerial images of each area, cadastral information and documents from the Payments Offices for transfer tax collection, which may have allowed them to protect non-developable land and enforce Andalusia town planning Act (LOUA). But they did not want to do so. Accordingly, as town planning duties have not been complied in respect of inspection and penalty procedures, the liability of Andalusia Regional Government and Town Council is joint and shared.

It is also worth mentioning the existence of certain arbitrariness on the part of public administrations when judgments were enforced, since older proceedings are still pending to be enforced and no actions are being taken on them.

Foreign residential tourism is a key factor for local economies in many areas; different national newspapers have been looked up and all of them echoed the new demolitions, which is a very harmful publicizing. They stressed the absence of economic compensations before demolitions were carried out, rather than demolitions itself.

It is not a question of implementing a general amnesty for all irregular acts executed on non-developable land without permits, since this may lead to a negative message for people who meet regulations. However, the fundamental property right should not be further infringed in conformance with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law and property right should be protected in Spain as a fundamental right. In addition a legal  system which protects third parties in good faith should be provided in order to ensure legal certainty; inspection and penalty procedures should be carried out and should not go on forever due to the lack of interest of public administrations, so that their effectiveness may paralyze these type of constructions before they are entered into legal transactions; common sense and realism should be imposed and Regional Governments should be consistent with what has been accepted in these years, due to their failure to act or interminable penalty and enforcement procedures.

It seems understandable that town-planning legality will be now strictly enforced and hopefully it will be watched over. However, solutions should be provided from a logic and legal perspective for all previous cases.

 

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

 

RELEVANT RULING FOR HOMEBUYERS OF NON-COMPLETED PROPERTIES WITHOUT BANK GUARANTEES

Ruling for non-completed Spanish properties without bank guarantees

Ruling for non-completed Spanish properties without bank guarantees

In the last few years, it has become quite common the significant number of homebuyers who have purchased off-plan properties and paid large sums of money on account for their future homes, however, the developer has never completed nor handed them over. Consequently, the advanced money has been lost in many cases, because the developer may have gone bankrupt and lost all assets to refund these amounts to them.

Spanish Government passed in 1968 the Law 57/1968 dated 27th of July on the receipt of sums paid in advance prior to the construction and sale of homes. This was aimed at stopping several cases of homebuyers who lost their money paid for properties which never were built.

Spanish Law 57/1968 is still in force and solicitors, who are specialised in this issue, know the regulations for homebuyers’ protection in respect of sums paid in advance to developers for off-plan or under construction properties prior to their completion. However, the most relevant point at this moment is the judgment argumentation set out for the court proceedings where 46 homebuyers without bank guarantees securing advanced payments, made a legal claim jointly and severally to the bank and the developer demanding the total amounts paid, because the construction works were never completed. The judgment was pronounced by a court of first instance of Albacete on the 08/06/2012 and was confirmed by the Provincial Court on the 11th of February of this year.

The aforementioned judgment ordered the bank to refund all amounts of money paid by the homebuyers, considering that it was jointly and severally liable together with the developer, pursuant to the interpretation of Articles 1 and 2 of the abovementioned Law of 1968, Article 4 of the Spanish Ministerial Order of 1968 and the First Additional Provision of the Law 38/1999 on building regulations.

Although the bank was not a party on the sale agreement and did not either issue bank guarantees for homebuyers’ payments on account, the main line of argument of this judgment to consider the bank to be jointly and severally liable is that this bank knew about these payments in the developer’s account and was aware that these amounts were paid for the purchase of homes in a property development. As a result of that, the bank did not comply with the obligations provided by Law 57/1968 and committed a banking malpractice, pursuant to the interpretation of Article 1.2 of this Law, as the developer should have been required to open a special account where depositing its funds apart from any other amounts aimed at the construction of the properties. In addition, the bank should have not permitted these deposits in ordinary accounts, and particularly when this bank was the only financial entity financing the development and profited from this real estate business.

This judgment entails a court action to recover the money for those homebuyers without bank guarantee securing the amounts paid on account to developers, because, if appropriate, they could bring an action for joint and several liability against the bank where the developer’s loan was granted, where the payments were deposited and where the developer operated. Thus, homebuyers will have better chances to recover the sums paid, considering that there are already many judgments where developers has been condemned to pay, but court orders cannot be enforced because of their insolvency, while banks are always solvent.

 

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

BUYING YOUR HOME IN SPAIN BEFORE THE 31ST DECEMBER 2012

Buying your home in Spain

Tax benefit when buying your home in Spain

In this year we have published several blog articles regarding tax changes on property subjects which the Spanish Central Government has passed over this year. In that regard, the deadline to implement most of them finishes on the 31st of December.

As a requirement to increase tax revenues, this new year will bring the removal of some tax reliefs which are currently enjoyed by home buyers in Spain.

From the 1st of January, home buyers in Spain should consider that the following tax incentives will disappear:

1) 50% tax exemption on capital gains obtained for the future sale of the property which had been purchased before the 31st of December 2012.

2) The Spanish VAT rate will increase from 4% to 10% for new housing purchases.

3) Tax deduction for main residence purchases, applicable in the event of tax residence in Spain.

Tax saving when buying a home before the 31st of December may become a very significant factor to keep in mind for those looking for a property in Spain and hesitating about different alternatives to take a decision. In these cases, we recommend them to make up their minds before the end of the year in order to take advantage of the above mentioned tax relieves.

Furthermore, sellers have also a reason to sell before the 31st of December—from the 1st of January 2013, Spanish Plusvalia (municipal capital gains tax on land) rate may increase from 66% to 150%, depending on the municipality where the property is located.

It is also worth mentioning that Town Councils reviewing cadastral values in the last 5 years were obliged till now to apply a 40% to 60% reduction on the resulting payable fee for Plusvalia tax. However, from the 1st of January 2013 this obligation will disappear—then, each Town Council may decide whether to apply or not this reduction. Regarding the current economic situation of most Town Councils, all of us may have to get use to the idea that just a few of them may decide to apply this reduction.

 

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

INCREASE OF THE VAT AND OTHER TAX MEASURES REGARDING THE PROPERTY IN SPAIN

Spanish IVA (VAT) up for new build: 10%

Spanish IVA (VAT) up for new build: 10%

The Spanish Government, particularly Mr Cristobal Montoro, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced last Friday 13th of July that, from the 1st of January 2013, will apply a VAT of 10% (of the declared value of the property) to new properties, with regard to the current 4%.

 

During the press conference after the Council of Ministers, the Chancellor has recalled that the application of the reduced VAT (4%) for the purchase of a property had an “expiry date”, that the Government has stated today for the beginning of 2013.

Mr Montoro has also indicated that, according to the recommendation of the EU, from the 1st of January 2013, “the tax deduction on the purchase of a property in Spain will be abolished”.

So, if you are thinking of purchasing a new property, it will definitely be crucial, from a financial and economic point of view, that you do it before the 31st of December 2012.  To see it more clearly, the difference in a direct taxation regarding a property valued at 200 000,00€ is 12 000,00€.

If you are planning to purchase a property here in Spain, do not hesitate to contact a professional lawyer for a deeper tax planning.

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

 

OBTAINING THE LICENCE OF FIRST OCCUPATION

Importance Licence First Ocupation LFO

Importance Licence First Ocupation LFO

We have recently known, through our clients’ consultations, of the situation that most of the owners of La Axarquía area suffer, which comes from the lack of a License of First Occupation on their properties, particularly, regarding those problems with contract the supplies, such as the electricity supply for their first time or for its restoration, after being cut off by the electricity company (i.e. end of construction site temporary power).

The License of First Occupation is a certificate issued by the town hall that confirms that a newly-built property fully complies with all planning and building regulations, and is ready to be used as a dwelling. It also confirms the compliance with all Health, Safety, Planning and Construction laws, and that the property has been fully completed, with no outstanding works. Each newly built dwelling will have an individual License of First Occupation. License of First Occupation only applies to newly-built properties as the L.F.O. is the original authorization to use them as a dwelling.

Granting a License of First Occupation certifies that the developer has built the dwelling fully complying with the original Town Hall’s Building License, as well as complying with all Planning laws.

The first occupation licence wasn’t required before 1978, this means all the properties with more than 37 years won’t have it.

The License of First Occupation is required to have access to the official supplies (water, electricity, gas,…).

The Spanish law requires the granting of the License of First Occupation to set up any utility contract for the property. Nevertheless, the most of the properties  without the first occupation licence have electricity supply and water supply. Many of these properties haven’t a first occupation licence due to the works in the urbanization aren’t finished yet but the owners are living there. We can say that in many cases the real situation of these properties haven’t anything to do with the content of the law.

It is always advisable to complete the purchase with a valid License of First Occupation (LFO) in place, even if it is not illegal to complete at the Notary office without a License of First Occupation. In other words, the property purchase completion before a Spanish Notary public without a LFO is legal in Spain, and the property can be lodged under your name at the Land Registry records. However, it is not legal to “live” in a property without the License of First Occupation. This is the reason because not having it in the new homes will prevent you from having access to water and electricity supplies for the property in order to get them connected.

Properties without LFO can be bought, sold and registered at the Land Registry. So it is not illegal to sell a property without LFO. If you own a newly-built property that was not issued with the License of First Occupation you might have trouble selling it as the potential buyers may seek for a steep discount because of this matter.

The information concerning the LFO given in this post may have to be understood as a benchmark to all those new built properties according to a building license previously obtained and complying with all Planning laws. If this building license was not given, if it was not according with Planning laws, or, in the event that the works carried out did not adhere to the building plan, we will be in another different situation, and the way to get access to these supplies would be different as well. But this is an issue which will be analyzed in a further post, taking into consideration the new measures introduced by the called new “Decree of legalization”, approved by the Andalusian Parliament last 10th of January, in this sense, which is not in force yet.

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

ADVICES FOR OWNERS OF NON-REGISTERED HOMES IN THE LAND REGISTRY

New building declaration and Land Registry records

New building declaration and Land Registry records

The possibility of registration in the Land Registry of constructions without building permits after four years of completion, is provided by a State regulation - Spanish Royal Decree Real Decreto 1093/1997 of 7th of July, Section 52 provides this possibility, as well as the following requirements for this registration: 1) proceedings of town planning discipline shall not appear in the Land Registry against the construction; 2) the time fixed by law shall have been elapsed in order to “tackle” this infraction through the administrative procedure and 3) certification of the year of completion of the construction.

Thanks to the above mentioned Section of the Royal Decree, thousands of constructions have been registered in the Land Registry, although they did not have the building permits or the constructions did not comply with the conditions of the building permits.

This Section has not been modified and is still in force, however some elements has been incorporated to increase the requirements demanded by the Land Registry offices and to “toughen” the requirements for the admission of this registration, as for example:

1) Amendment of Section 20.4 of the Spanish Land Law which refers to the declarations of new buildings and incorporates a new requirement for its registration in the Land Registry—the submission of a certificate from the city council stating the fuera de ordenación (out of ordination) condition for this construction.

2) As a result of the approval of the new regulation Reglamento de Disciplina Urbanística (town planning discipline regulation) by the Junta de Andalucía Regional Government in May 2010, pressure and control have been increased above these constructions located in non-developable (non-urbanizable) lands. The Junta de Andalucía have notified the Directorate General for Registries and Public Notaries, so that they demand new obligations for the registration of declarations of new buildings, as for example, the submission of a certificate from the city council, so that the Registry record the “fuera de ordenación” condition (out of ordination) or the “asimilado a fuera de ordination” condition (assimilated to out of ordination).

3) Some Land Registry offices have begun to demand the submission of this certificate from the city council as an essential requirement for the registration of the declarations of new buildings.

 

What do all these changes mean for owners who want to register their home?

In the event that in the future the Land Registry requires owners the submission of this certificate from the city council to register their home, swimming-pool, garage or any other construction in their property, these below may be the consequences:

1) Increase of the economic costs for the declaration of the new building, because some city councils are approving ordinances for the payment of fees for obtaining it, as they need financial resources; in some cases, these costs may range between EUR 2,000-5,000, depending on the square meters of the property.

2) As any other application to city councils, this procedure would be slow and may imply several months until obtaining the certificate; in case owners need to obtain the declaration of new building urgently because of a sale, this period of time may become an important handicap.

3) The fact of recording in the Land Registry the fuera de ordenación” (out of ordination) condition or asimilado a fuera de ordenación” (assimilated to out of ordination) condition on their property, implies the documentary evidence of some limitations, which may affect the sale price when transferring the property to a prospective buyer. It is also worth mentioning that the prospective buyer may demand a discount in a possible transaction regarding this fact.

To sum up, in the event that the Registry offices toughen in the future the requirements to register any construction in the Land Registry and the resulting increase of the costs and period of time for the procedure completion, we advise you to take advantage of the current situation and execute the Public Deed of Declaration of New Building of your home as soon as possible and submit it to the Land Registry to avoid any problem in the future.

 

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

DRAFT OF THE DECREE ON THE LEGALIZATION OF HOUSING ON NON-DEVELOPABLE LAND OF ANDALUSIAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT

Legality houses non-developable land Spanish countryside

Legality houses non-developable land Spanish countryside

Three weeks ago, we received in our offices a copy of the draft implementing Decree of 20th of June 2011, which regulates building and scattered rural settlements on non-developable (non-urbanizable) land in Andalusia.

This draft is supposed to be created as an attempt to regulate the situation of a large number of properties located on non-developable (non-urbanizable) land in Andalusia, where criminal or administrative proceedings cannot be filed against them for land development liability, because the offense or infringement is extinguished by prescription. The Andalusian Regional Government is partially responsible for this situation, as they have not protected or controlled the legality regarding land developments of municipalities for many years. Meanwhile, they have collected the profits from the transfers of title ownership by means of the transfer tax.

Regarding the draft of the Decree, the concept of constructions assimilated out of ordination is not understood. The use and enjoyment of these constructions can be exercised, but a complex administrative procedure is established, so that the city councils certify the security and necessary facilities for the use and enjoyment of these properties. However, the resolution to this procedure shall never mean the grant of the First Occupancy License, neither the owner’s rights shall be recognized to be exercised before any administrative or criminal proceedings (article 7, section 6 of the Decree).

If the use of housing is recognized and regulated to preserve the rural area, the environment and the scenic value where the construction is located, then, why the First Occupancy License is not granted when the owner is enjoying the property? What does “non-recognition” mean before any court proceedings? As a result, it could be understood that in the event of court proceedings, this recognition of assimilated housing shall not have any legal “value” for these proceedings, that is to say, legalization or regulation does not exist.

Maybe, the problem is based in the creation of the concept “assimilated to out of ordination, which was incorporated by the Decree on Urban Discipline of Andalusian of 2010 and its implementation.

Furthermore, an additional problem arises, as the Land Registry jurisdiction belongs to the Spanish Government. As a result, the State legislation should firstly include this legal concept of “assimilated out of ordination” within its rules in order to authorize the registration in the Land Registry of any administrative action which establishes a construction under the consideration of this concept. Nowadays, the only existing concept is “out of ordination”, but nothing is referred to constructions “assimilated” to these ones. Then, the Regional Government is not authorized to establish the access or registration in the Land Registry, as this jurisdiction belongs to the Spanish Government.

Lastly, in many Andalusian municipalities as the Axarquía region, thousands of isolated houses have been built on non-developable land under the corresponding construction permits. Then, it does not seem coherent that differences in treatment are not considered for these owners acting in good faith, regarding these municipal permits they were granted. This draft of the Decree does not include any reference to them; therefore, the legal situation of the constructions with permits equates with these other constructions without permits.

In conclusion, regarding the content of the draft, legalization or regulation of properties located on rural land is not incorporated; no legal novelty is provided to solve out the problem resulting from the lack of control of Public Administrations regarding the use of land; this law only complicates even further the current situation of this issue.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

NEW URBAN SCENE IN LA AXARQUIA

Complex urban planning in Andalucia: PGOU, LOUA & POT

Complex urban planning in Andalucia: PGOU, LOUA & POT

Due to the urban complexity that most of the municipalities of La Axarquía are immersed because of the Spanish local elections held in May, the changes in the local governments could mean changes in the way of managing each municipality and in the solutions that such local governments could propose in view of the complex urban development in this area.

We have to take into account that, nowadays, most of the municipalities are working in the production and approval of their new General Plans for Urban Zoning (PGOU) to adapt them to the Urban Zoning Code of La Axarquía (LOUA) and to the Plan for Town Planning in La Axarquía (POT), and so as to offer a final solution to all those housing developments built upon non-urban areas as well as to the thousands of isolated buildings within each municipality.

Apart from the several actions carried out by the town halls, it is worth mentioning the announcement made by the Junta de Andalucía about the approval of a Decree to legalize the large number of houses in La Axarquía. Besides, the Junta de Andalucía has made an inventory about houses built upon non-urban areas and which is being sent to each of the town halls so that they could know the situation of all those mentioned houses.

The PGOU is the main instrument in the planning of each municipality and it provides the characteristics and nature of the area that comprises such municipal district. So, it is very important that those owners with properties built upon non-urban areas, whether it is an isolated house or a house within a development, appear before the municipal offices as soon as possible, preferably with a specialized lawyer, in order to study the situation of the houses and the possibilities of legalizing them or declaring them houses out of regulation.

It is worth mentioning all those housing developments partly or totally built upon non-urban areas, but with different situations in their basic infrastructures (lighting, roads, sewer systems, water, etc). In those cases, it is necessary that each Community of Owners or, if it is not established, one of their representatives, enquires in the town hall about the situation of the housing development and its possible inclusion in the new PGOU.

If we take into account that it seems that possible mid-term solutions and measures may arrive, it is important that owners ask and take part in such “regularization” process that will be born within each town hall, so as their property or housing development could be part of this new plan, or in order to find a solution for each conflict or situation.

Obviously, regularizing each house will have a charge for the owners, depending on their situation, but we think it is a “minor wrong” if this situation of legal insecurity upon many rustic properties comes to an end.

Nowadays, our legal firm, which represents some clients that have houses or are part of a housing development built upon non-urban areas, has already started to deal with several town halls about the situation and regularization proposals of their properties. It is important that the owners are the ones who look for solutions with the town halls.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

FIGURE OUT OF REGULATION AND CONSTRUCTION ON UNDEVELOPED LAND

Andalucian houses built out of regulation according to Town Hall´s urban law LOUA

Andalucian houses built out of regulation according to Town Hall´s urban law LOUA

Now that many municipalities in Málaga are approving their development plans in an attempt to regulate the urban chaos in relation to dwellings on undeveloped land, and to adapt those plans to the Law on Urban Planning of Andalusia (LOUA,) the obvious question is; what will happen to the irregular housing that cannot be legalized by the new urban plan adopted by each municipality?

A possible solution to these houses can be the designating them as homes “fuera de ordenación” (out of regulation), ie homes or buildings that do not satisfy the new municipality’s urban planning, therefore cannot be legalized, and it cannot be either asked any kind of responsibility to their owners or developers as any possible urban infraction has prescribed according to the LOUA or penal code, through the passage of over four years and five years respectively, since the buildings were finished.

Such classification of a property as “out of regulation” can be done by either the City Council or at the request of the owners, and entails certain limitations on the rights of the owners with respect to such property. Thus, the building can only undertake repairs work and maintenance for the strict conservation for the occupancy and use of such constructions, and such other works authorized under exceptional provisions of the Act. However, these properties can still be used by their owners, so that they can continue to enjoy their homes, do conservation work thereof and carry out any legal business on their property, acknowledging the existence of the above mentioned limitations in the property use and enjoyment but with the legal security that any legal liability can be required in the future because the housing has been declared by the City Council as out of regulation and, therefore, is now legally defined.

Given the numerous buildings that are not legalized in the Axarquia and over which there can not be imposed any liability, some municipalities are currently starting to open statement records of “out of regulation” in order to end up with this situation of legal uncertainty over these buildings that can not be legalized since they are located on undeveloped land according to the urban plan. The objective is also to give the owners legal protection letting them know what they can or cannot do on their properties but with the legal security that no responsibility will be claimed on them in the future regarding their properties. In fact our firm recently launched the first record of this type in one of the municipalities with more properties in this situation in La Axarquia, not having finished to this day.

According to the LOUA, the councils have the authority or power to define in their urban plans what can or can not be done on these out of regulation properties, so they can take this advantage of that power or authority to help solving the problem of all buildings that can not be legalized in the new general urban plan but over which there cannot be any imposed legal liability. Thus using their authority to help making this cataloging received positively among the affected property owners while helping to organize and regulate part of the chaos of the homes built on rural land, with the consequent benefit to the town Hall for new incomes and for the owners that will have legal security in their properties

Therefore, given the impossibility of legalizing the new urban plan on everything that has been built illegally, the legal definition of out of regulation may be of interest for the owner to give legal security to their property.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

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