Easy way to check whether the property is legal

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    • #53082

      Hi there everyone

      the following link (sorry Mar hope this doesnt breach rules) is a link to the catastral where you can input the details of the property you are looking to buy and it will tell you whether it is rustico, industrial, urano, or urbanisable

      Hope this helps



    • #73974

      Sorry Vince, I’ve got to disagree there. Our Catastral record and registry entry says our land has been declared (presumably by our developer) as urban. However in reality, ie locally, it is rural estate so our property is not legal.

      The Catastral record is only as accurate as the information that has been input/supplied. Even the Catastral topography is not accurate – a common and worrying problem that no one seems concerned about (legally that is). I have been told by one lawyer, “dont worry, this is a common occurence and does not affect your legal title”. Really? Not very reassuring when my house is situated in one place (satellite picture and co-ordinates) and the record co-ordinates have it placed half a mile away up the side of a mountain!!

      Some people who provide the information obviously lie and the Catastral office dont appear to have a process in place to check back with the Town Halls to verify the information. This information is not matched with the PGOU or checks made that all legal paperwork is in place, ie permissions, LFO etc. before signing at the notary or registration is allowed. The system is obviously a leaky sieve and open to abuse by the unscrupulous.

      We have even been told (by a local REA, English one in Spain) that it is easy to obtain legal papers, ie registered escritura and get a seemingly legal Catastral record if you know the right people and have a spare €15,000 to hand. Unfortunately, this was about a year after we had bought and we can only surmise have fallen victims to this situation – not that it can be proven.

      Hence we are the legal owners (have a registered escritura) of an illegal property. If the lawyers, banks etc. only do a cursory check at the Catastral office and registry, but dont check the local situation, then buyers will be, do and have been caught out. They, like us, assume the Catastral information is totally accurate and can be trusted. Much like we assumed the lawyers and banks can be trusted. How naive!

      We should know, we have a Spanish bank mortgate on abovementioned illegal house. Either the checks aren’t there, aren’t done or are deliberately ignored. Take your pick – I know which my money (literally) is on!

    • #73981

      Fran, it is my understanding that if a property is accepted onto the register of properties, then it is legal from that point on. Historically, many illegally built properties (especially those built on rural land) have been properly registered after they have been built for four years or more and have not been denounced. Spanish law allows for this in its statute of limitations. The owner of an illegal property can take certified evidence of the age of his property and go and register the property. This has been going on for years and I know has been open to abuse. A typical example is architects who were prepared to issue certificates of antiquity on houses under four years old in order that they can be registered. I know that the authorities have tightened up the rules on this now and individual architects now have to involve the College of Architects in the process, thus reducing the possibilities of fraud.

      I don’t think that it is a requirement of registration of a house of over four years old to have either a building license or a first occupation certificate. If a house was built illegally, it cannot have either of those two documents per se. The catastral plans are famous for their inaccuracy. The land registry is supposed to be definitive.

      I would be interested to hear anyone else’s take on this.

    • #73999

      Hi Fran

      sorry to hear about your troubles. However my reason for putting the link up was so people would have a quick way to determine things (ie if there house was legal) I was in no way suggesting this replaced a due diligence process which should in any case be carried out.

      The other problem with the catastral is it can take up to 4 years to register a new title with them, so whilst you may be a registered owner you may not be the one on the catastral.

      But it sill better to know the info on there than not – would you disagree. As I said my purpose for putting up the link was not to effect self conveyancing which would be complete folly, but to spread a bit of information about.

      By the way as far as I know it is a legal requirement for an estate agent to check details of a property against the catastral and the escritura. I know of very few who actually do (though I could be wrong about this being a legal requirement)

    • #74003

      Hi Jasmine,

      Our lawyer has told us that the reason we are still illegal is that the land is classed as non urbanizable on the local PGOU and as such could still be subject to demolition, if this is not altered to urban (like my Catastral record states).
      There were no permissions to build on this land, so no LFO.
      The house was built in 2003 so the 4 year rule could apply but I heard that this avenue had been stopped since July this year.
      Our house is registered. It took less than six months to do this surprisingly, rather than the 18 months to 2 years that most people are having to wait in our area. We believe our developers “smoothed” the escrituras passage as this was the only way they were going to get the money balance for the house.

      Hi Vince,
      I agree self conveyancing in its entirety is inadvisable (no-one would do it in the UK) however, I would suggest that any prospective buyer check with the local Town Hall as to the legality of a property re permissions, land claissification etc. Something that we were not aware we could do nor advised to do, we trusted the lawyer when they said it was “perfect” and totally legal. This kind of ignorance is not in our favour if we were to take our case to court.
      Yes, I agree that to view the Catastral site would do no harm (the more information gained the better), I was merely warning that the Catastral record system is open to abuse and the information gained should not be totally trusted on its own. This should not be the case but it is true.
      Our Catastral record was obviously falsified in the first place and was not checked further hence our lawyer said all was fine and legal. He either did not know the local situation or ignored it – I dont know which.

      Our estate agent was a friend and an amateur plus very much under the influence of this local small developer (they were friends with them too), so I doubt they would have known their legal obligations. I think the prospect of getting easy money through a commission was a great motivator.

      It is a shame that in a developed country like Spain, it is impossible to trust systems and institutions (banks, some lawyers, judiciary) which are in positions of authority and supposedly beyond reproach. It is our fault that we thought that we should have been able to trust them and their due process. Our naivety has come at a heavy price.

    • #74009

      Fran, I am sorry to hear about your plight.

      Where did you hear that the 4 year rule has been discontinued? We are hoping to register our property in November using this rule, so I am quite concerned.

    • #74010

      I noticed it on another discussion forum, catering for ex pats in and around Arboleas in Almeria, so I cant vouch for the legal accuracy of it. Perhaps one of the lawyers on this forum can tell us definitively if the 4 year rule is still applicable and what it entails.


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