Tag: rustic plot

TIME LIMITATION FOR RESPONSIBILITY: ILLEGAL SUBDIVISIONS RUSTIC LAND ANDALUSIA (DAFO)

illegal subdivision rustic land andalucia
illegal subdivision rustic land andalucia

On 6 August 2016, the amendment of article 183.3 of the Urban Planning Law of Andalusia (LOUA) came into force.

The main objective of this amendment was to introduce a statute of limitations for subdivisions in non-developable land that contain buildings. Since 2003, the Administration was able initiate the administrative proceedings for the grouping of these plots divided illegally at any time, which entailed an order to demolish anything built illegally on such lands. There was no time limit, i.e. the legal responsibility never expired.

What this amendment has done is introduce a statute of limitations of six years for such subdivisions, provided that they contain buildings over six years old. This statute of limitations introduced for buildings constructed in non-developable land, results in the legal responsibility expiring after six years without the administration initiating proceedings against such subdivision.

It should be made clear that subdividing rural land means the segregation or division of a plot of land into several more plots, usually for the purpose of selling these plots independently and building there. These subdivisions are illegal unless they comply with the smallest unit for crops, which, in dry lands, is usually between 20,000 and 25,000 square metres. The general idea is to limit plots in rural land from being divided to form new independent properties as much as possible.

This is not a minor issue as, both before and after the passage of the LOUA in 2003, thousands of illegal subdivisions of rural land that did not comply with the smallest unit for crops took place in Andalusia. This situation was widespread until 2009, when the economic crisis put an end to frantic speculation in the property market.

The existence of thousands of such subdivisions led to the sale of many properties originating from illegal subdivisions, which were then transferred to other buyers, whom were also transferred the legal “problem” represented by the possibility of the Administration initiating procedures against them.

This was a situation that created a high level of legal uncertainty, as the offence of dividing such land illegally never expired. The sale of these plots led to the appearance of third parties acting in good faith.

In practice, the Administration in general and City Councils in particular did not have –and do not have– any interesting in pursuing proceedings against these subdivisions to re-establish legality in urban planning. In fact, the enforcement of the resolutions of these proceedings, by grouping all segregated plots into a single property in the Land Registry and in the cadastre, with the demolition of anything built illegally on such plots, seems a complicated task, not to say an impossible one.

In addition to this, the fact that there was no statute of limitations caused a situation of comparative tort, as the offence of having built on non-developable land, on a plot that did not come from a subdivision, would expire after six years. However, if the building was located on a plot divided illegally, the building could be “attacked” with no temporal limit as the offence of subdivision did not expire, i.e. despite the building being over six years old.

I think this amendment is sensible, as it equalises the statute of limitations for plots with buildings and that of buildings constructed on non-developable land. This will lead to greater legal certainty, with the ability to determine the legal regime applicable to these properties clearly.

The logical consequence of this amendment is that buildings that are over six years old and that are built on land subdivided illegally will able to apply for the Assimilated-Outside-of-Planning Procedure (DAFO).

This procedure does not entail the legalisation of the building as the situation of illegality is always maintained but it can lead to greater legal certainty, as the City Council will certify the situation of the property on which legal liability has expired, without the possibility of being “attacked” again by the Administration itself, provided that, of course, no new buildings, renovations or improvements are made on said building.

This recognition, in addition to being a relatively significant financial outlay for the owner, will also entail the certification of a series of limitations for buildings on rural land, despite the fact that, with or without DAFO status, these limitations still exist. It will be up to each owner or new buyer to decide whether he or she is interested in requesting that recognition for the property in question, without forgetting that the City Council can require the owner to initiate it ex officio.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors, Malaga, Andalusia

FUTURE REFORM IN ANDALUSIA FOR THE OWNERS OF HOMES CONSTRUCTED ON NON-DEVELOPABLE LAND

FUTURE REFORM IN ANDALUSIA FOR THE OWNERS OF HOMES CONSTRUCTED ON NON-DEVELOPABLE LAND

Andalucian houses constructed non-develople land
Andalucian houses constructed on non-develople land

Three weeks ago the Junta de Andalucia (Andalusian Regional Government) announced a reform of the Urban Development Law for Andalusia (LOUA) which aims to provide further legal security for owners of homes that are built on non-developable land (rustic land).

With the current LOUA regulations, for those buildings constructed on rustic land in Andalusia and which are within a zoning plot, the prescription period of six years that the administration has to “attack” these constructions on rustic land does not apply. In other words, no time limit is established, therefore the government leaves open the possibility to begin administrative procedures against said plot and the constructions that are on it, when it deems convenient, even if it has been over six years since the home was built.

The above has the main effect that a building on rustic land, built over six years ago on a property that has not been segregated, cannot be penalised or “attacked” by the government, whereas if the construction is part of a segregation/plot division it could be penalised in spite of being built over six years ago, and demolition of the homes built on this plot could be ruled, as established in article 49 of the Regulations on Urban Development Discipline. Regarding this article, I point out that in spite of it and in my opinion, I do not think that it is feasible to carry out any demolition under this precept due to several legal reasons.

The problem with current regulations since the LOUA came into effect in 2003 is that no serious monitoring or inspection policy has been implemented by the Junta de Andalucia and the Town Halls on rustic land. This has led to the proliferation of thousands of new homes and plot divisions throughout Andalusia, especially during the times of the real estate boom, and more so on the Costa del Sol, where this speculation reached unsustainable proportions.

In spite of the fact that it was feasible to control these constructions, it was not done and this led to the buildings entering the legal level, with many owners purchasing in good faith with all the appearances of legality. This has shown that current regulations in Andalusia on rustic land, and specifically on plot zoning, are pointless, because no one has made sure that they were enforced, making them inefficient at best.

Now the intention is to modify the LOUA and provide the possibility for isolated constructions located on plots of rustic land to regularise their situation through the figure of assimilating it as unregulated, that was introduced by the Decree of 2012. This will be so provided that the period of 6 years has elapsed without the government beginning any penalisation procedures against these buildings, therefore to these purposes the legal situation is considered as equal to those homes that are not located on a zoning plot.

It will take a period of 5 or 6 months for this reform to be approved, and it will be approved by parliamentary proceedings, therefore changes will be included during its approval.

I understand that this initiative by the Junta de Andalucia is a first step towards solving this problem. We all would have preferred for this not to have happened and that rustic land would never have been part of town planning speculation, but this problem started many years ago and the issue is clear; what to do with thousands of homes that cannot be demolished now?

Most of these homes are inhabited and they are still being bought and sold between private persons, therefore it is necessary to regularise them so that third parties acting in good faith have legal security as owners of these properties. Likewise, it is reasonable that those that were built without a building permit, which is most of them, should assume a cost for the regularization procedures and they should contribute the same as any citizen who wishes to build a house, and this bearing in mind that the acknowledgement by AFO is not the cure-all either. From an ecological and environmental standpoint, the legalisation procedure must guarantee that these homes do not cause any further damage to the area where they are located, and that their waste water is completely purified by autonomous installations, because as long as they are fully illegal, and cannot be “attacked” by the government, each owner will do what they see fit and damage to the environment will be higher.

In short, given the current situation and bearing in mind the problem that has been created due to the inactivity and lack of control by the public administrations, from a legal, financial and environmental standpoint, we must establish a regularization procedure for these homes. If not, if we continue with the current situation, it would be a great mistake and it would only continue to aggravate the problem as the years go by.

 

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

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

CADASTRAL REGISTER: TO BE REGISTERED, THE QUESTION IS CLEAR

CADASTRAL REGISTER: TO BE REGISTERED, THE QUESTION IS CLEAR

Cadastre registration Spanish properties
Cadastre registration Spanish properties

The cadastre is a compulsory administrative register which depends on the Ministry of Finance. It keeps the description of rural and urban properties as well as properties with special features. This register has nothing to do with the Land Register, where registrations are voluntary and legally prevails over the Cadastre.

Cadastral registration by property owners is compulsory, as provided by Article 11 of Spanish cadastral law Ley del Catastro Inmobiliario; that is, title holders to the properties shall declare before the Cadastre Office any variation or modification as for example: conveyance, new constructions, land partitions and additions and any other necessary information so that cadastral descriptions of properties are in accordance with the facts.

Consequently, owners’ obligation to adapting the physical reality of the property to the cadastral facts is clear.

Articles 70 and 71 of the Spanish law Ley del Catastro set out the rules on infringements and penalties, so that “failing to submit declarations, submit them after deadlines or submitting false, incomplete or incorrect declarations” may be considered an infringement punishable by a fine from 60 to 6,000 Euros. To date, we have no evidence that the Cadastral Register is penalizing owners for failing to submit the necessary declarations, although these are not submitted.

The problem that we have noted is that the Cadastral Government Office in Malaga refuses to accept modifications on properties built on non-developable lands and requested by owners or their legal representatives, despite it is deemed that the documents legally required has been submitted for these proceedings. We reiterate that the Cadastre is a compulsory register and as a result it is important to be taken into account.

As far as we understand, the Cadastre systematically refuses some variations and modification on non-developable lands; consequently, it is requested additional documentation which we consider to be unnecessary and should not be demanded according to Spanish law. In view of this situation, which we understand that is not applicable to law, our law firm has filed complaint actions against different administrative proceedings, which are pending to be resolved by the Economic Administrative Court of Malaga.

If owners are obliged to declare their property modifications or variations before the Cadastral Register Office and their legal documents are provided, what is their responsibility if the Cadastre denies their request or asks for further documentation that owners do not have?

From our point of view, the fact of requesting the cadastral variation or modification providing the necessary documentation should exempt owners from any infringement imposed by the Cadastral Register, since they did their best to adapt the physical reality of their property to the cadastral facts.

On the other hand, the Minister of Finance approved last year the cadastral regularization procedure 2013-2016, by which the Real Estate Cadastre intents to incorporate ex-officio urban and rural properties with constructions, as well as any variations of their features, so that these properties are recorded in the Cadastral Register and the Spanish property tax IBI may be collected.

In Malaga, just a few municipalities has acceded to this procedure, by which owners are requested the payment of a 60 Euros fee to carry out this regularization, although it is probable that other municipalities also accede to this procedure in the following years.

To sum up, and despite the existing difficulties to register in the Cadastre some modifications or variations, we advise owners to check if their property is correctly registered in the Cadastre, so that they may request before this register office the necessary modifications and variations to adapt the physical reality of their property to the cadastral facts. As a result of this action, they will avert potential problems.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Torrox-Málaga)

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

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)

 

MALAGA, AXARQUÍA AND URBAN PROBLEMS.

MALAGA, AXARQUÍA AND URBAN PROBLEMS.

Corruption Town Hall Alcaucin Axarquia Andalucia
Corruption Town Hall Alcaucin Axarquia Andalucia

I recently read an article in Diario Sur talking about Alcaucín Town Hall. It is still bogged down with the properties built in non building lands.

Consequences arisen from the urban corruption existing in Alcaucin (Malaga) since 2009, has resulted in a lack of legal security for part of the owners and people who are interested in investing in a property around this area of Malaga, provoking, as main conclusion, an important loss on the buying and selling property market, and a horrible publicity abroad of our local institutions and our legal system as well, for a non response in view of the abuse competence of some Town Halls in urban matters and, in the permission of the Andalusian Government, who has looked the other way for many years while the many urban irregularities happened; of course cashing up thanks to taxes and prices for the usufruct and enjoyment of the properties and for asset transfers.

Some of the professionals that work in this area, we wonder why so many legal proceedings are opened where the owners turn out accused. Most of them are not responsible of this illegal urban activity, but they can be seriously affected.

From a legal point of view, most of these procedures would end into nothing because of the prescription of many of the charged urbanizing crimes and because of the possibility of regularization of buildings, as it has been stated by the doctrine. Passing of time in the resolution of these judiciary procedures only provokes an overextension of this chaotic situation.

I do agree in the fact that town halls should be meticulous in the fulfilment of urban rules and that the Andalusian Government must closely watch private as well as local building activities. However, I do not quite understand that there should be a series of judicial procedures opened against illegal urban licenses that have enjoyed a tacit acknowledgement for years due to lack of control; specially, when these acts have been carried out in such an evident way and for such a long period of time.

The intervention line that is being carried upon the misuses of non-urban ground, not only arrives late but it does not solve the problem, thus causing the situation to worsen by overextending the resolution to the problem within the eternal judiciary channels. In many of these procedures the solution will not only be the least adequate but it may not even be possible to re-establish the original status to the illegally urbanised ground, which would be the desired thing to be done in this last instance. All this without taking into account the patrimonial responsibility that this will mean to the city council already in great debt and what’s more, the nullity of the illegal local licenses as well as the prejudices that may arise among those property owners who were counting on the city council to achieve a building permission.

In such a time of chaotic urbanism and autonomic and local irresponsibility associated to periods of growth, it would have been logic to establish a strict action line to be followed from now on, being categorical to all the illegal behaviour and conduct, reaching a consensus on the different competent institutions with logic and coherence by the assumption of responsibility over these illegal acts from those truly responsible. There are always solutions and technical means to be applied if both parts are implied in it.

We finally hope that coherence finally imposes itself. However, if this long period of uncertainty were here to stay, the image of the real estate would be irreparably damaged and the efficacy of the public and professional institutions in question. It will be difficult to overcome this situation because of this feeling of judicial insecurity and chaos in the criteria due to the arbitrary decisions that weaken us all.

 

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

 

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