Buying a rural property in the countryside of Andalusia

DAFO-certificate

Buying a house in the countryside of Andalusia?

If you want to buy a property in the countryside in Andalusia with the DAFO-certificate (which we explain in the next paragraph) there are certain rules and regulations to take into account. In theory, the regional government (Junta de Andalucía) prohibits new buildings or extensions. It also does not allow any rebuilding or renovations to older buildings inside or outside without. If you have your eye set on your dream home in the Andalusian countryside, be sure to consult a lawyer before purchasing your rustic property.

Regulations of illegal buildings in the countryside of Andalusia

For decennia, houses have been built in rural Andalusia without the proper approval of the regional government or that of the Junta de Andalucia. Around 300.000 properties have been constructed either without a license or with an invalid building license. In 2012 the Junta approved a decree to regulate this situation.  All rural properties should in theory be 6 or more years old. This can be verified through a certificate issued by the Town Hall: the DAFO (Declaración Asimilado Fuera de Ordenación).

Costs of the DAFO-certificate

Obtaining this DAFO-certificate has a cost of between 6,000 to 12,000 Euros or even more, taxes included, depending on size of the construction, town and for example the fact if a certified septic tank is installed or not. Often these costs are paid by the vendor, but it’s not a legal obligation. Also, it’s not illegal to own, buy, sell or inherit a house without a DAFO certificate. We therefore recommend to try including the DAFO-costs within the purchase price when negotiating the reservation contract.

The DAFO procedure is in many towns automatically started when receiving official information like a purchase deed or an application in the RTA rental registry (rental license for an RTA/VTAR). Even if not, you´ll still have to count with these costs sooner or later, even though it might take until you sell again and the next buyer will require this certificate from you.

Differences for normal countryside and areas with special nature protection

The DAFO-certificate gives the owner of a rural property in writing what the official age is of the total construction and that the legal responsibility of the authorities has expired. If the property lies on a special protected land, then all constructions mostly must be proven to be 6 years old from the moment the land was deemed protected. In older cases the period is 4 years but there are also townhall that don’t count back at all anymore. However, in these cases, the responsibility of the Town Hall to be able to act against illegal buildings on specially protected land made after that day will NEVER expire at all.

Inspections by the Junta de Andalucia or Town Hall

The Junta de Andalucía or the Town Halls carries out checks on rural properties and any new buildings deemed illegal are at risk of legal action. Also, if there is an open legal case against the property, it will not be possible to obtain a DAFO-certificate until it is officially closed again. This of course is a problem if you would need to sell in the meantime. As part of the legal investigation your lawyer will try to prove the age of the property through technical reports or licenses and by checking aerial photos if available.

DAFO-procedure

As the process at the Town Hall can take between 5 to 12 months, there is a large possibility the DAFO-certificate will not have been issued yet by Town Hall at the moment of completion of the sale. In these cases, price retention for the costs of the DAFO-certificate will be agreed on the purchase price by both parties when signing the title deed at the notary. Of course the lawyer will investigate if there are any risks for a safe purchase with DAFO within his important legal investigation. After the DAFO-certificate is issued the lawyer of the buyer will in this case make a balance for the vendor and return any money left.

Apart from the extra security about the legal status of the property, the DAFO-certificate also provides confirmation that the service facilities are according to regulations (water, electricity, approved septic tank, etc.). Also, some towns have additional requirements for protected areas like solar panels or a minimal number of planted trees.

Other advantage: small building license allowed for house with DAFO

As you are officially not allowed to renovate the rural property neither outside nor inside, having the DAFO-certificate gives you the opportunity within the application (or in further future) to apply for building permits for small renovations (obra menor). This is possible if the reforms are needed to improve safety, liveability or hygiene. Without the certificate this would not be possible. Of course, although the rules for Andalusia basically are all the same, the exact interpretation of this definition will vary per town or even per architect.

Specialized lawyer for buying a rustic house in Andalusia

When buying a property in the Andalusian countryside it is wise to contract a specialized lawyer/solicitor, especially if it’s a rustic or rural property in the countryside. C&D Solicitors has a lot of experience in this field and knows all the ins and outs of the DAFO-certificate. Would you like to receive an example offer for the legal investigation in the buying process (in English, Dutch, German or Swedish). Then please let us know and we’ll respond you within 24 hours.

You of course can also watch our information video on the subject of buying in the countryside with the DAFO.

* This article has been written by a third party not owned or controlled by Spanish Property Insight (SPI).
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