Another spoke in the wheel for British buyers, who might now be held back by Franco-era laws aimed to keep foreigner owners away from military bases and strategic sites like Gibraltar.
Now that the UK has left the EU, the Spanish state is a bit more suspicious about British buyers of property in militarily ‘sensitive’ areas, reports the Spanish press.
Legislation passed in the dying days of the Franco dictatorship that requires foreigners to get special permission from the military to buy property in sensitive areas is still on the books, but was waived for EU citizens.
Britons hoping to buy rural property in areas designated as sensitive for military reasons will now have to go through a tiresome extra procedure to get a permit from the Ministry of Defense that could add many months to the purchase process.
The legislation could scupper or delay as many as 800 sales to Britons in the Vega Baja region of Southern Alicante alone, warn real estate professionals in the area. 800 sales is the equivalent of just under 10% of the entire British market in 2019.
‘Sensitive’ does not just mean overlooking military bases. Areas quite far away are included. In Alicante province places like Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa, and Pilar de la Horadada are all affected because they are “within the vicinity of the Cartagena naval base, located about 60 kilometers away,” explains an article at El Pais in English.
“In total, the law impacts about 1,560 municipalities across Spain as it also applies to urban areas close to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bay of Cádiz, the Galician coast and Spain’s borders with France and Portugal. But the south of Alicante will be particularly affected as, according to Jesualdo Ros, secretary general of the Association of Real Estate Developers of the Province of Alicante (Provia), it accounts for the highest percentage of predominantly British foreign buyers. “Eighty percent of foreign purchases are made by British citizens in that area,” says Ros. This means around 800 buyers a year will be affected.”El Pais in English
The Gov.uk website guide to buying property in Spain (which recommends Spanish Property Insight as a useful source of information) has been updated with the following text:
“In some parts of Spain, the peripheral land surrounding a military base is considered ‘restricted’ under Spanish law, and specific rules may apply when buying, selling or carrying out construction work on properties located in these areas. Our current understanding is that, from 1 January 2021, UK nationals who wish to buy property in these areas will be required to meet third country national requirements and request a military permit from the Spanish Ministry of Defence prior to purchase. As with all property transactions, we strongly recommend you seek specialised legal advice from a lawyer who can advise and support you through the process and, if necessary, request the military authorization on your behalf.”Gov.uk
Other sources reveal that the areas affected include the border regions with France and Portugal, the Galician coastline, most of Murcia’s coastline plus southern Alicante, and the coastline from Gibraltar to Cádiz.
Permission from the military is now something British buyers need to keep in mind when looking for rural property in these areas. Permits are reported to take between three and six months in normal times, and could take longer now if the volume of applications go up. It sounds like you would want to get your application in early to avoid disappointment.