Holiday rental owners who have registered their properties in Andalucía must now have their Licence of First Occupation in place or risk a minimum fine of 2,000 €.
The decree for Viviendas con Fines Turísticas (VFT), published in May 2016, set out a number of prerequisites to applying for a registration number in the Registro de Turismo de Andalucía. One of those states that a property must have a Licencia de Primera Ocupación, or Cédula de Habitabilidad – a document which replaces the LFO in circumstances where a property doesn’t have a licence in place.
The Junta de Andalucía gave owners a period of grace to apply for their licence, which has now expired. Owners were originally given one year, from the date of inspection, to apply for the LFO. Unfortunately with thousands of inspection visits overdue, and very few inspectors to undertake them, the requirement of a Licence of First Occupation has been brought forward.
If you are an owner in Andalucía and have applied for your VFT registration number, it is essential that you start the application process for the LFO now, or risk receiving a fine..
What is a Licence of First Occupation?
Since around 2005 the document has been issued to all types of residential dwelling in Andalucía: apartments, villas, townhouses, etc. The certificate is a guarantee that the building has been completed within compliance of building legislation, is fit for residential use and meets public safety standards. It also importantly allows the home or building to be connected to water, gas and electricity supplies.
Before the first release date of the LFO, there was no such certificate, and many owners of older properties have been caught out having to pay for the Habitation Certificate because of a law passed after the construction date of their property. Unfortunately there is no way around this situation.
Whether the property-build date predates the introduction of the LFO; or the property was built outside of building legislation (in Marbella alone, there are said to be more than 30,000 illegal dwellings), you must apply for the Habitation Certificate (Cédula de Habitabilidad).
How do I find out if I have a Licence of First Occupation?
The first thing to do is check if an LFO exists for the urbanisation or complex where you live. You can check with your community administrator, as they should have copies of the licence for each phase of the complex.
If they don’t have a copy, but a licence exists for your property or complex, then you can also ask the lawyer who represented the property purchase. The document should have been part of the purchase paperwork, together with the escritura (title deeds).
Thirdly, you can visit your local ayuntamiento (town hall) with your escritura (title deeds) and your referencia catastral (catastral reference) and ask for a copy. There may be a small admin cost. The procedure and cost depends from town to town.
If your property doesn’t have an LFO attached to it, then you will need to apply for a Cédula de Habitabilidad. This document replaces the Licence of First Occupation in circumstances where one does not exist.
How do I apply for a Cédula de Habitabilidad?
The process of applying for the Cédula de Habitabilidad is more complex and costly, but absolutely necessary if you wish to continue renting out a property on a short-term basis in Andalucía.
You will need to source an architect’s report of the property, which is then given the seal of the Collegiate of Architects of Andalucía. If your property is over a certain age, you will also need to apply for a Certificado de Antigüedad.
The application is then given to the relevant ayuntamiento to be processed. There is a charge of 1.5% of the construction value in some ayuntamientos – Marbella and Estepona – to name two. If you have a lawyer handling this then you will pay legal fees of the handling of the process.
The cost of the application depends on the size of the property and complexity of each case, but should rarely go over the 2,000 € minimum fine an owner can receive if they don’t apply for the LFO.
We advise owners who have registered and do not intend on applying for the LFO in the near future, to deregister until such time as they are prepared to start the process. First call is to check if one already exists. Many owners we have registered thought they didn’t have one, and then found out from their community administrators that they did.