This manual from Casa Propia is an eye-opener for buyers and home owners in Spain

Remarkable. Hardly any government agency, professional organization or individual professional pays attention to perhaps the most important theme on their website; legality. And the reason is obvious. According to the “house architect” of Casa Propia, there will not be enough housing supply if real estate agents remove all properties that do not meet the legal requirements from their website. “Why mention whether a house has an energy certificate, but nothing about the most important document the Licencia de ocupación?” It is characteristic of the interests in the Spanish housing market where everything and everyone seems to be silent when it comes to the most basic question; is a house legal?

Therefore, this is the first and probably only objective MANUAL for owners and buyers, perhaps the most important page of our website. It is wise to read the information below at your leisure. It is a lot of information, but fortunately not yet a book and hopefully an eye-opener for all owners and buyers.

Do you want a house or apartment that you can renovate, rebuild, insure and sell in the future without any problems? Then read on.

This page is not to scare you and for many owners the information will be confronting, but as an interest group we have a moral duty to inform honestly and to help find solutions. So … take off your pink glasses and forget about beautiful sales stories from professionals. Our goal is that you can enjoy beautiful Spain without any worries.


We hope the information on this page puts an end to once and for all the misinformation that real estate agents or lawyers are able to guarantee the legality of a property without the help of an architect, let alone buyers themselves. It is really much more complex than it is suggested at the purchase. One research that offers buyers certainty is the field of a independent ethical architect specializing in urbanism, who works according to fixed protocols. And that is what Casa Propia is involved in, among other things.

Qualification properties


  • Illegal buildings cannot be legalized, obtaining a Licencia de ocupación impossible.


  • Illegal or tolerated buildings cannot be legalized and must be demolished for a valid Licencia de ocupación.
  • Update other essential documents if necessary.


  • Illegal or tolerated buildings can be legalized and must be legalized for a valid Licencia de ocupación.
  • Update other essential documents if necessary.


  • All documentation up to date, legally valid and checked against the current state of the house.


The best translation of Licencia de ocupación is “license to inhabit”. In fact, that already shows why this document is the most important. Are you allowed to live there? And what if something happens? Exactly! Unfortunately, in practice it appears that too many buyers information has been withheld.

It is very confusing and incomprehensible that the name of this document and the rules differ per community, sometimes even per municipality. Popularly known as Licencia de ocupación, the different names and documents mean that it is now so unclear that buyers can no longer see the forest for the trees and owners have no idea whether they have all the essential documents. In addition, when translating completely different documents are translated the same, which opens the door to deception wide open. Don’t be fooled that a property registered in the official land registry and registry is legal. It’s bizarre, but it’s just not true! Casa Propia therefore introduces a traffic light, so that buyers and home owners know the status of the home.

Definition Licencia de ocupación

The Licencia de ocupación is the document that gives you the right to live in a home and is the only document that can prove the legality of a home. The municipality is the only competent authority to issue it, so this license is also printed on the municipal letterhead. Do not confuse the Licencia de ocupación with a Licencia de ocupación based on a responsibility statement issued by the municipality, Certificado de ocupación of an architect, an AFO certificate, Cédula de habitabilidad, etc.


The Licencia de ocupación must be renewed every time it has been built or remodeled. Applying for or renewing a Licencia de ocupación is done by an architect. The latter must investigate whether permits have been issued for all previous renovations followed by a final delivery (Final de obra), and in particular whether the work has been carried out as stated in the permits. described (note: also by previous owners) . The architect will check the situation on site against the then and the current zoning plan. Another document that buyers are regularly confronted with is that the municipality is not aware of any irregularities. This one is misleading because it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It is no secret that building and renovating without a permit is the rule rather than the exception due to the inadequate control. Far too often the Licencia de ocupación is not even mentioned let alone the risks being mentioned. And there is the problem, which current owners are unaware of, but may experience the consequences.

This validity check is not done for cost reasons, but usually in the interest of sales as it reveals issues. The renewed Licencia is factually unlawful and therefore invalid. It means that the potential risks pass from one owner to the next, until an owner is unpleasantly surprised after years of carefree living pleasure. It is a kind of pyramid scheme in which far too many owners unknowingly participate and we as a group of homeowners now know all about it.

With this background information you will now better understand why the Licencia de ocupación is so often invalid or has been obtained illegally, but such an invalid document is of no use to you when it comes down to it. You are completely dependent on the arbitrariness of, for example, a government agency, a municipal official for permits, an insurance company for the payment of damage or a notary at the sale and that can have consequences that you as a (future) owner are not waiting for. It is very similar to driving without a valid driver’s license. The chance that you will be stopped may be small, but if you have an accident you do have a problem (see risks below). What Casa Propia is all about is that you are the only one who can decide whether you are willing to take risks, not the broker and / or lawyer who states in contracts that you are aware of the situation without reporting the risks, thus safeguarding the professional from liabilities and you as a buyer the consequences accepts without knowing it.



  • If all construction and renovation work (including by previous residents) has taken place WITH PERMIT and the property meets the guidelines of the current zoning plan, the Licencia de ocupación is valid or can be extended relatively easily or are requested.
  • If (re) construction work has taken place WITHOUT PERMIT , everything that falls within the guidelines of the current zoning plan must be legalized and everything that falls outside the zoning plan must be dismantled to request a new valid Licencia de ocupación.


And that is why buyers and owners should know that the following risks cannot be ruled out


If no permits have been granted for a house or building, whereby the buildings also do not comply with the current zoning plan, you run the risk of having to demolish these buildings. Costs for demolition and fines are borne by the current owner.

With the exception of houses or buildings that are tolerated according to the law. Please note that this law is no longer in force everywhere. Although tolerated construction does not result in fines or demolition ordinance, it must be investigated whether these buildings do not affect the status of the home as a whole, as a result of which tolerated construction also poses potential problems, as in the other points.

Insurance coverage

According to our experience, we hardly ever ask for documents when taking out insurance. Keep in mind that most insurance companies place the responsibility with the policyholder. The owner must ensure that the property meets the conditions set by the society and must fully inform them. It is therefore not the case that if your policy has been accepted, you by definition have the guarantee that you are also insured, even if you have previously received smaller claims. We are aware of cases in which people were removed from insurance when they reported the status of their home afterwards.

If documents are invalid or not present at the time of damage, this can lead to problems when paying out the damage. Insurance companies have the right not to pay out the damage if the home does not meet the policy conditions, instead of you being entitled to payment. In the case of minor damage, (valid) documents may not be requested, but in the case of major damage, the chance is of course high and logical. For example, in case of fire damage as a result of a short circuit and you do not have a valid Boletin de electricidad, Boletin water in case of water damage or a Boletin gas due to gas damage (explosion). Moreover, many insurance policies state that renovations must be reported, whether the value or, if you wish, the need for an up-to-date residence permit is evident.

Property value

The value of the house must be determined on the basis of its legal condition, that is to say without illegal buildings, even outdated buildings if these cannot be legalized. After all, illegal (tolerated) construction means that a home may not meet the legal requirements, possibly falling outside the zoning plan, with all the associated consequences.

Property sale in the future

Prevent that it is difficult or impossible for you to sell the property in the future, not everything is in order, for example because ethical advisers do check on behalf of the buyer whether the essential documents are present and valid, or that the notary will be obliged to verify the validity verify to allow the transaction to proceed. In the latter case, sales are even impossible, and reality forces us to say that it would not be so strange at all. Your invested capital is locked up until your home is returned to its legal state.

If you want to sell your home, you must also prevent a future buyer from being able to reverse the purchase or claim damage if they discover that things are not in order or information has been withheld in the interest of the sale. Who buys a property that is not legal? According to the latest court decision, you must report that the house does not meet the legal requirements or is illegal. Please note, the judge has held the seller responsible and not the selling broker.

Renovate and rebuild

If previous buildings without a permit have been implemented incorrectly or cannot be legalized, this may prevent a new permit. If irregularities are discovered during the inspection, you can be summoned to legalize them and, if that is not possible, to abort them, including possible fines.

As a rule of thumb, it is assumed that the current zoning plan must be complied with for rebuilding. Has the qualification changed, but then it affects both rebuilding and rebuilding. If the house has been built on land that cannot be built on in accordance with the zoning plan, it may therefore not be rebuilt. It may also be the case that the change means broadening the possibilities. Soil qualification needs to be properly sorted out, and there are quite a few different categories and subcategories, each with their own standards.

Rent out

If you rent out the house and the Licencia de ocupación is invalid, this almost certainly means that the rental license is also invalid, with possible consequences for, for example, the coverage of the insurance (possibly even personal injury) and the risk of fines. Not only irresponsible for yourself, but also for your guests / tenants.

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