30,000 rural homes in Andalusia could benefit from law change

Left, British vice consul Rosslyn Crotty,  center with paper Jose Luis Sanchez Teruel, representatives of associations  AUAN, SOHA and  CALU, PSOE executive in Almeria and various mayors and former mayors of the Valley of Almanzora.

Left, British vice consul Rosslyn Crotty, center with paper Jose Luis Sanchez Teruel, representatives of associations AUAN, SOHA and CALU, PSOE executive in Almeria and various mayors and former mayors of the Valley of Almanzora.

Andalusia has just modified its planning laws, and an estimated 30,000 rural homes in the region could benefit as a result, according to the property rights association AUAN.

On Wednesday, 20th July 2016, the Parliament of Andalucía approved a bill to modify three articles of the planning laws of Andalucía (LOUA) to permit the regularisation of isolated residential properties located on illegal land divisions (parcelaciones urbanisticas) on non urbanizable land (suelo no urbanizable). The bill was passed with the votes in favour of PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos and the abstention of Podemos and IU.

An estimated 30,000 houses in Andalusia that fall foul of planning laws could benefit from this change, say AUAN (Abusos Urbanísticos Almanzora NO).

Once the law comes into force in August homeowners will be able to request their homes comply by applying for an AFO certificate – a document that official declares their property to be assimilated in the planning regimen of ‘fuera de ordenación’ – a category assigned to properties that do not conform to current planning regulations but are accepted by the authorities.

“This change is the result of nine years of work by our association and it will deliver real and immediate benefits to our members,” said Maura Hillen, the president of AUAN. “Nearly all of them will eventually be able to obtain electricity, water and paperwork for their homes.”

The General Secretary of Territorial Planning and Town Planning of the Junta de Andalucía (regional government), Rafael Márquez, has said that this reform of the LOUA is sufficient, but if necessary more changes will be made.

Though a big step forward, it is not the end of the road. “We need more measures to speed up the legalization of these houses and for this reason I am heartened to hear the commitment made by Sr. Márquez,” said Hillen.

She also had words of thanks for AUAN’s legal advisor, Gerardo Vázquez. “We owe him a great debt of gratitude” she said. Gerardo Vázquez is one of SPI’s recommended lawyers in Andalusia.

Asked about the practical implications of this new law, Mrs. Hillen explained: “When this law comes into force in August, every property in Andalucía completed after 1975 will need an AFO certificate or a licence of occupation in order to guarantee compliance to the planning regulations. This carries obvious advantages in terms of greater legal certainty for prospective buyers”.

Though a big improvement that will make life easier for thousands of owners of property in the region, Hillen points out it’s not an amnesty and doesn’t solve all problems. “The house needs to comply with various administrative and physical requirements – all at the cost of the owner, of course. But it allows thousands of houses to exit a legal limbo and puts an end to the anguish of thousands of purchasers in good faith who bought these houses in the past. We are very proud that our efforts have not been in vain.”

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