Is your house legal?

Some of the signs and symptoms of an illegal house.

  • If your house was newly built** outside of the municipal nucleus in the last 7 years, it was probably built on rural land (suelo rustico) and is almost certainly illegal. It is illegal to have a new build property on rural land for any purpose other than farming.
  • Owning rural land is quite acceptable and legal, and a land escritura is common. It is when a house is placed on that land the problems start. It is the HOUSE which is illegal, not the land.
  • If you do not have a copy or your developer cannot provide a copy of the building licence (licencia de obra or permiso de obra) from your town hall. If the building has been built without planning permission (and even with planning permission but not on urban land) the property is at risk of possible demolition or “land grab”.
  • If you do not have a copy of the architect’s project. This describes what has been built and in accordance with what criteria and elements.
  • If you do not have an end of works certificate from the architect (Certificado Final de la Direccion de la Obra), stating that the property was finished and when.
  • If you do not have a first occupation licence. This is issued by the Town Hall after its checks that the property has been built in accordance with the planning permission and the architect’s project. This is necessary to properly contract electricity and water.
  • If you do not have Installation bulletins for electricity and water. These bulletins are intended to show the electricity and water installations are in order, and are also needed to properly contract electricity and water.
  • If you do not have a title deed (escritura) in the names of the purchasers for the house and land. The deed should have been registered at the Spanish Land Registry. A private contract does not provide adequate protection – the property is at risk if such a title deed has not been executed.
  • Mains supply of water or electricity does NOT indicate legality.
  • Mains sewerage is a better indication of legality, but it must be MAINS, and not a large (community sized) pozo.
  • Roads, street lighting and pavements do NOT indicate legality.
  • Some houses, in or too near ramblas, public rights of way, or green belt areas, will NEVER be legal, and indeed a few MAY need to be demolished.
  • It should take no more than 3 months to obtain an escritura for a legal house.

** Reformed cortijos or houses built within the footings of older dwellings are excluded from consideration as an illegal house.

Check the designation of your land

A key indicator of legality is the designation of the land on which your property was or is to be constructed. You can only construct new build property on consolidated urban land (suelo urbano consolidado).

Address is

  • Click on "CATASTRO +" from the list of headings top right
  • Click on DIRECCION drop down box from top left
  • If you don't know your poligono and parcela, click on DIRECCION EXACTA, enter PROVINCIA as Almeria, a MUNICIPO (e.g. Cantoria), a CALLE (e.g. choose any) and a PARCELA (e.g. 1).
  • Then zoom out using the zoom bar on the left to, say 500ft, and use the directional arrows to find your house or land.  Once you have located it, zoom in closer and click on your house or land.  A "Referencia catastral de la parcela:" box is displayed which you click on the blue catastro number to get the detailed info.
  • Please note that the CATASTRO reflects the land registry data but it is not the official land registry. It will however, give you a fairly good indication of the designation of your land. The land registry is a physical archive of registration documents not currently available on line. 


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