MANY Brits find it daunting moving to Spain. It’s not just the language barrier – often we assume that laws will be similar to our home country when it is simply not the case.

Many disputes arise between neighbours due to land boundaries and the ‘legality’ of some constructions.

Spain’s history and traditions play a large role in the passing of legislation. The nation did not have a democratic government until the early 1980s, so when implementing new legislation, law-makers have to factor in how to deal with houses which were built before this coalition was formed.

This has caused Spain to have three types of construction under Spanish law: ‘Legal, Illegal and a-legal’.

Victoria Wrightalba Consultants
Victoria Wright. Image: The Olive Press

Here are some examples to help you understand the differences.

A construction is legal when it has been built to modern legal standards with plans and projects supplied by the corresponding architects, structural engineers or topographers and with all the required permits from corresponding Town Halls, District Councils and public works offices. These may include permits from forestry and environmental department in some cases.

A construction is illegal when it has been built within the past 40 years without the above permissions and permits or without complying with minimum building regulations.

A construction can be classed as ‘a-legal’ if it was built before 1983, even if it did not have planning permission or permits as long as it was not built on protected land, a dry riverbed, or poses a health and safety risk to the neighbours. The latter could include an open cesspit or the fact the building is structurally unsound and could potentially fall onto a neighbouring property.

There are some constructions and alterations, which, even though built without architect plans and Town Hall permits, can be ‘legalised’ and turned from Illegal builds to a-legal, through a reasonably simple process. This often depends on the age of the works carried out.

Properties which are a-legal can often still be a good purchase on the understanding that you have seen independent advisors to do the adequate searches both on the property and the area.

For any help and advice on legal issues, you can contact legal eagle, Victoria Wright at ALBA Consultas. Email: Call (+34) 96 561 5061 / +34 692 386 293 or drop into the office at C.C. Europeo, Local 168, Ctra Teulada – Moraira. 03724

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