Decree 20/2002: Andalusia’s Holiday Rural Rental Decree

buying rural property in spain

Property in rural Andalusia

Regular legal-contributor Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt explains the holiday rural rental laws that apply in the region of Andalusia, giving us an overview of the Decree in force, the requirements landlords must meet, and how to register your rural holiday rental in Andalusia.

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
8th of April 2016


As a result of publishing last month’s article on Holiday Rentals Laws in Andalusia (Decree 28/2016), which applies only to residential properties, I got asked to write up something on rural holiday rentals in Andalusia.

Decree 20/2002 is in fact a fourteen-year-old law so rural landlords should not be going overboard over it regarding fines for non-compliance. I stress I am not advocating for non-compliance, merely observing that this law was passed well over a decade now.

Due to the sheer length of this decree, this article is by no means exhaustive. In fact I have greatly abridged the decree focusing only on the points that will interest the vast majority of rural landlords. It is advisable landlords get hold of their own translated copies of this long decree as I will not be analyzing all the minutiae as it interests only a minority of people (specifically Annex III dealing with rural houses which goes into a wild level of detail on the requirements one must comply with i.e. size of toilets).


Andalusia’s Holiday Rural Rental Decree


Andalusia approved on the 29th of January 2002 this decree (sic). Andalusia’s Holiday Rental Law was officially published in the BOJA on the 2nd of February of the same year. This decree has been amended several times over the last decade by numerous laws. The most up-to-date version is this one which reflects all the legal changes:

Decreto 20/2002

The official name is Decree 20/2002, de Turismo en el Medio Rural y Turismo Activo.

This includes the following types of rural property:

viviendas turísticas de alojamiento rural (better known by its acronym VTAR).
casas rurales.
complejos turísticos rurales.

The best way to go about it is simply analysing point by point what it establishes.

Obligation to Register your Rural Property for Rental Purposes

In compliance with this Decree, and with Law 13/2011, of Tourism in Andalusia, landlords need to register before Andalusia’s Tourist Registry (or ATR going forward).

You can download and fill in the form supplied by the ATR called ‘Declaración Responsable‘ and hand it over at one of the ‘Delegaciones Territoriales de Turismo’ once completed. Registration is free unlike in other regions of Spain. More details on registration in a section further below titled ‘How to Register your Holiday Rental in Andalusia’.

If your command of Spanish is low, you can hire a lawyer to do this on your behalf in exchange of a reasonable fee.

Excluded Properties

The following properties are excluded from being regulated by Decree 20/2002:

• Properties which are lent to friends or family without an exchange of money (free).
• Properties that are let to the same individual for a continuous period of time exceeding two months. In which case it will be regarded as a standard rental agreement subject to Spain’s Tenancy Act. More details in my in-depth article: Spain’s Tenancy Act (LAU).
• Residential properties, located in what is legally classified as urban land, are expressly excluded as they are subject to their own legislation: Decree 28/2016. You can find more details in my in-depth article: Holiday Rental Laws in Andalusia.
Apartamentos Turísticos which are ruled by Decree 194/2010.
• Villages with a population census over 20,000 will not be considered rural for the purpose of this decree.

Holiday Rural Rentals: Definition

Article 9 defines them. They will comply with the following three points:

• To have the appropriate architectonic rural characteristics of the region they are located in.
• To be integrated with the natural surroundings.
• To meet the minimum requirements set out in this Decree for each rural type available.

Types of Rural Lodgements

• Rural houses (casas rurales).
• Rural hotel lodgments and rural tourist rentals (establecimientos hoteleros y apartamentos turísticos rurales).
• Rural tourist resorts (complejos turísticos rurales).
• Other.

ANNEX I: Specialization of Rural Properties

Rural properties can be classified in different groups depending on their specialization:

• Agro tourism. Exploitation of agricultural and livestock resort which lodgers can participate in its activities.
• Rural hostel. Devised for short-term to explore and enjoy the rural surroundings and nature. It will have kitchens for the use of lodgers besides being able to offer its own food catering. Rooms for up to three people will be allowed in bunk beds. A ratio of one toilet for every 7 lodgers.
• Nature classes. Thought to educate tourists on Nature’s ways. Group orientated.
• Forest housing. Linked to the exploitation of forests, mountains, lakes and water related natural resources.
• Mill.
• Cave house.
• Huts. Wood or straw thatched dwellings.
• Cortijo house. Used to exploit the surrounding fields i.e. plantation.
• Farm school.
• Hacienda. A more complex and larger structure than a cortijo i.e. olive plantation
• Refugio. Structure devised for mountain hikers to dwell in a few nights in hard to reach locations in the wilderness.
• Other. This includes all rural property that do not qualify for one of the previous categories.

ANNEX II: Mandatory Minimum Structural Requirements of Rural Lodgings

• Access to wheeled vehicles must be enabled with visible signposts. Brochures with directions on how to get there must be supplied to tourists. If the landlord cannot do this he must provide himself the means of transport to and from the lodging premises.
• Drinkable water. Not inferior to 200 litres per lodger if not connected to the mains grid.
• Electric energy.
• Fully stocked first aid kit.

Rental Types

As mentioned in the article’s introduction I will skip whole sections of the Decree and focus only on the two typical rural properties rented out by expat landlords.

1. Rural Houses (casas rurales)

• Independent structures.
• No more than three dwellings within the same building as a limit.
• No more than 20 lodgers allowed at any time.
• They will be classified in two categories: basic and superior. Superior has obviously more stringent requirements to meet.

Annex III holds a full list of requirements rural houses must meet to be rented out legally. For reasons of space I will not be including it. It is strongly advised that landlords download Annex III and have it fully translated. Annex III can be found in pages 21 to 24 of this PDF link: Decreto 20/2002.

2. Rural Rentals (viviendas turísticas de alojamiento rural or better known by its acronym VTAR)

• Architectonically independent stuctures such as labour house, tool huts, barns, cowsheds, stables etc.
• Offered to the public in general to be rented one or more times a year on a short-term basis.
• To offer strictly only lodging services (not additional services such as restaurant facilities or daily change of laundry and bed linen)
• No more than three dwellings allowed in the same building.
• Maximum of twenty vacancies offered.
• To be adequately furnished.
• The lodging cannot exceed 3 months within a calendar year.

Registration Form

• All lodgers, not just the one making the reservation, will be fully identified in compliance with current Security laws (popularly dubbed as ‘Gag’ Law). Lodgers will supply a copy of their personal ID/passport. Like in hotels, all guests will be required to fill in and sign a registration form on entry. In compliance with art 7.2 this registration form must be then sent to the Police or Guardia Civil for every guest over the age of 16 years old within the next 24 hours of the accommodation following Security Laws from 2003 (Orden INT/1922/2003, de 3 de julio, sobre libros-registro) and from 2015. You can send a copy of the filled in and signed registration form personally, by fax or else by e-mail. Registration forms are standardized by law; click here for a sample copy.
• Online registration: follow this link to submit by e-mail to the Guardia Civil a copy of your completed Registration Form.
• Registration forms must be stored by landlords for a period of up to three years for the inspection of the Security Forces.

How to register your Rural Holiday Rental in Andalucía – Inscription before Andalusia’s Tourism Registry (ATR)

All landlords that wish to rent out their rural properties in Andalusia must register their property before the ATR prior to offering and advertising rentals or else face being fined for clandestine activity.

You can self-register here:

Enrolment at Andalusia’s Tourism Registry.

Download, print and fill in the form supplied by the ATR called ‘Declaración Responsable para el acceso o ejercicio de la actividad’; specifically the annex on page 7. Once done, hand it over physically at one of the ‘Delegaciones Territoriales de Turismo’ in the region where your property is located. It can also be completed online if you have a digital certificate enabled. Unlike in other regions of Spain registration is free in Andalusia. You can find a translated version of the form in English here.

• Complete the Declaración Responsable meeting the requirements outlined above in Annex II & III depending on your rural property type.
• Passport copy of landlord and/or NIE number will be required.
• Property details, cadastral reference, number of potential guests. Supply copy of last IBI receipt that mentions ten cadastral number. More on IBI tax in my article Non-Resident Taxes in Spain.
• Landlord’s personal details and an address for official notifications.
• Details of management agency or designated person if landlord appoints someone to act on his behalf. Any change in details must be communicated so the ATR remains accurate at all times.
• Dates on when the rural rental facility is set to open.
• Mandatory insurance policies (if applicable).
• Details of this inscription will be passed on to the local town hall.

Fines and Sanctions

They are divided into three categories:

a.- Light offence. Can be either a written warning or a sanction with fines up to €2,000.
b.- Serious offence. Sanctioned with fines ranging from €2,001 up to €18,000. The premises may be shut down temporarily at the authority’s discretion (for periods less than 6 months), the rental licence may be revoked temporarily.
c.- Very serious offence. Sanctioned with fines ranging from €18,001 up to €150,000. The premises may be shut down temporarily at the authority’s discretion (for periods spanning between 6 months to 3 years), the rental licence may be revoked indefinitely.

Clandestine Activity

If the Authorities (La Junta) catch you red-handed renting out a rural non-declared property (that is not registered at the ATR) this may be regarded as a serious offence.


If you own rural property in the region of Andalusia, and plan to rent it out as a tourist accommodation, make sure your property is first registered before the ATR. And to close, do not forget to declare and pay tax in Spain on your rural rental income (you can read my article Non-Resident Taxes in Spain for more information on your tax liabilities as landlord).

Related articles

Renting in Spain: Top Ten Mistakes – 8th of June 2011
Let-to-Buy in Spain: The Smart Choice – 8th of April 2012
Letting in Spain: The Safe Way – 10th of October 2012
New Measures to Bolster Spain’s Ailing Rental Market – 8th of July 2013
Tenant Eviction in Spain – 8th of June 2014
How to Buy Rural Property in Spain – 8th of August 2014
Holiday Rental Laws in Spain – 8th of March 2015
House Hunting in SpainThe New York Times. June 2015
Resurgent Spain: Málaga Sees Strong Sales – Mansion Global (The Wall Street Journal). December 2015
Holiday Rental Laws in Andalusia – 8th of March 2016

Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV.

2016 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt. All rights reserved.



17 thoughts on “Decree 20/2002: Andalusia’s Holiday Rural Rental Decree”

  1. Profile photo of kippydogkippydog

    Thank you so much for all your work on this Raymundo
    I have a question which I would be grateful if you could help me with

    I believe based on previous reading that our house is classified under the old legislation rather than the new, as a vivienda rural. I have a form for this which I have been sitting on for some time (form 000495/VR) waiting to complete it if I could find out what to do with it!. Do you know if this form is still the correct one for a vivienda rural or is it now redundant and do we all use the same form?

    Supplementary question is that I can’t seem to find Annex 111 but I do remember seeing a list somewhere a few months ago for requirements which included air conditioning, although this was never on the list for viviendas rurales.

    Local ayuntamientos are completely in the dark about this and just say ‘consult a gestor’ when asked any questions about this law. Can it really be that there has been no communication to them about it?

    Many thanks

    1. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

      Good afternoon,

      Thank you for your kind words, much appreciated.

      If you are not registered yet just bin your old form. Log into the Junta’s website, following the link supplied above, and download and print the form. Just fill it in and handed over physically in the Delegacion Territorial de Turismo where your rural property is located. Alternatively if you have a digital certificate enabled you can register online.

      Annex III is in the link I supply above to Decree 20/2002. All you need to do is just scroll down and you will find it (pages 21 to 24 of the PDF):

      Owners of rural houses must comply with Annex III to register their houses. This annex does not make a mention to A/C in as a requirement in every room, unlike its residential rental counterpart decree, but does however rule that the room temperature must be at 19ºC at all times, for example. So you will need some kind of machine to achieve this.

      Annex III makes a distinction between two categories: basic and superior. Obviously the latter has harder requirements to meet.

      As for your comment on town halls, it is not their competence to know and enforce this law. They are not the right people to query on this matter in my humble opinion.

      You are welcome.


      1. Profile photo of kippydogkippydog

        Thank you very much Raymundo. Much clearer now!! We have always declared our income but never managed to do the registration.

        I think I can manage to do this myself and would intend to do so as gestors locally are charging between €150 and 300 for what appears to be a relatively simple task. Maybe those prices will come down when there is some competition, as the energy certificate costs did!!

      2. Profile photo of kippydogkippydog

        Hi Raymundo
        Many thanks again for your help. I can’t find anything that says the house has to be kept cooler than 21º, only that it has to be heated to a minimum level: Is this the clause you are referring to:
        Calefacción ambiental para todo el edificio con instalación fija, capaz de mantener al mismo tiempo una temperatura
        mínima en todo el edificio de 19 ºC y de 21 ºC en el área de estar, con sistema regulador de temperatura

        Not absolutely sure what they mean by ‘calefacción ambiental’ but it would be impossible to get the temperature that cool in summer in Almeria with temperatures sometimes over 40º. Even the best aircon systems can’t reliably bring the temperature down more than 10º.

        1. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

          Morning Kippy,

          You have at least five references in Annex III which refer to the room temperature which must be observed (pages 21 to 24) for rural houses.

          Annex III distinguishes between basic and superior rural house lodgements.

          I can’t really say if it is achievable or not in Almeria, sorry. I wouldn’t go overboard over it, frankly.


  2. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

    Hi Christopher,

    If you are an owner of rural property and are renting out I advice you register before the ATR which is free (unlike in other regions of Spain).

    I would also advice you to declare and pay tax on your rental income. The Spanish Tax Office are increasingly targeting more and more undeclared rentals. You may want to check out this newspaper article from last week from El Pais: Taxman turns attention to hidden internet property rentals

    If you are not renting out your rural property on a short-term basis you can blissfully ignore my whole article as it does not apply to you. This article applies only to those that rent out on a short-term basis rural property.

    As a lawyer I can only recommend people to stay in the right side of the law. And as a seasoned lawyer I’ll add that common sense must prevail. It is after all a decade long law. I think the Junta will be busier targeting resident undeclared lets. But that is only my opinion.

    You are welcome.


  3. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

    Afternoon Daniele,

    Thank you for forwarding my article, much appreciated.

    Addressing your queries:

    1. If I understand right there is no need for “primera ocupacion” for VTAR’s ?

    I do not see it mentioned in the decree. It does not appear to be one of the requirements to register before the ATR, unlike residential holiday private rentals in Andalusia where it is a must.

    However a Licence of First Occupation (LFO) is a legal requirement to dwell in a property (off-plan or new-build property only). So although this law does not require it to register, you may still need it for admin purposes. More on LFO in my eleven-year-old article:

    2. If the water comes from a well do you need some proof that its drinkable?

    No. The law does not require that, it just says drinkable water. It in fact mentions the possibility that some properties will have their own water supply and that’s fine.

    You are welcome Daniele.


    P.S. Your name rings the bell. Are you part of the Fileti clan (related to the Sweeney’s)?

  4. Profile photo of Baard OlsenBaard Olsen

    Hi Raymundo
    Thank you for the overview also on this law.

    As I have been paying my taxes through the Modelo 210, but have yet to register before the ATR, and with reference to your comment on “Clandestine Activity” in the article; would it likely be considered a light offence and hence not a serious offence, having failed to register, but having paid taxes on the rental activity?

    Best regards,

    1. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

      Morning Baard,

      No, fines are regulated by law 13/2011 of Tourism in Andalusia. It specifically rules that clandestine rentals (i.e. non-registered) are to be considered a serious offence (art.71) including rural rentals.

      That said, as I care to highlight in this article’s introduction, we are dealing with a fourteen-year-old. At the time of passing this rural holiday rental regulation the law from 2011 did not exist. Moreover art. 79 allows of the latter allows for a degree of ‘flexibilization’ as multiple cicumstances are taken into account on setting the fine.

      This translates in practice to a more lenient stance on rural properties as opposed to urban or residential properties ruled by Decree 28/2016 which is a newly enacted regulation.


  5. Profile photo of kazzakkazzak

    Buenos dias Raymundo,
    We have a 3 bedroomed cortijo and we have been letting the 2 guest bedrooms out for Bed and Breakfast for a year now. My question is, do we have to register when it is only 2 rooms (4 guests maximum) and if so, what is the rate of tax we would have to pay, as last year we only earned 1,400 euros.
    Any imput/advice would be greatly received as we do not want to end up facing a hefty fine!!
    Muchas gracias,

  6. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

    Morning Karen,

    The Junta, in my opinion only, are more concerned with fining residential properties than chasing rural ones.

    Tax rate is 19% in 2016 for EU/EEA residents and 24% for those outside it.

    On the days you have not rented out the property you are liable for Non-Resident Income Tax (Imputed Income tax) if you are a non-resident. More details in my in-depth article Non-Resident Taxes in Spain:

    Hope that helps and de nada.


  7. Profile photo of robbierobsterrobbierobster

    Hello Raymundo,
    I was fortunate to find your article on Rural rental and found it very helpful indeed – Thank you.
    My wife and I are currently searching in Almeria for a suitable rural property to use as a B+B and I would ask who should be my first port of call to give some assurance that the property would be accepted as legal by the Junta de Andalucia as a Casa Rural before we purchased it (with all the steps taken to ensure the buildings compliance as per the 2002 decree).
    Again many thanks and any advice will be appreciated.

    1. Profile photo of Raymundo Larraín NesbittRaymundo Larraín Nesbitt Post Author

      Hi Rob,

      You are welcome.

      Your first port of call is to hire a lawyer so that he ensures this. This is hardly something one can achieve on his own. Far too much red tape involved.

      Make certain to make it clear that you are not interested in the property if it is not to be destined as a B&B; as in contractually.


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