Extension of the deadline

Regularisation of illegal properties in Valencia

08 / Jun

Owners of properties built without a permit before 20 August 2014 in non-urban areas (e.g. in rural areas, also known as `rustico`) can regularize their property as of 8 February 2019. Originally the deadline for this was set at one year, but recently there were reports in the press that this deadline would be extended.

Conditions for regularization
There are certain requirements you have to meet in order to be able to regularise a property. It must be a dwelling that was completely built before 20 August 2014 and no demolition order (orden de demolición) was issued by a court. In the latter case, the decision whether to make use of the new regulation is up to the judge. The fact that there may be a pending administrative procedure to restore the legal situation (expediente disciplinario) at the Town Hall is not an obstacle, even if the Town Hall had already issued an order for demolition.

The requirements of the regulation are too many and too complicated to mention here. In addition to the conditions set by this regulation, the Town Hall itself may still impose certain conditions.

The request for regularisation must be submitted to the Town Hall, but the Town Hall must make a file for each case and send it to a central ‘regularisation’ commission of the state of Valencia. If the latter approves the application, the Town Hall can continue its role and make a decision on the application. Without this input from the regularisation committee, the Town Hall cannot take decisions.

If the regularisation is successful, the Town Hall will issue a permit, which may be subject to conditions. These conditions are aimed at limiting as much as possible the possible negative impact on the environment of the regularised house. You then have 4 years to meet these conditions. If these conditions are met, the Town Hall will issue a habitation certificate.

This arrangement offers advantages for owners of illegal houses. Utilities can be provided without hindrance. Municipalities could grant permits for the construction or amplification of regularised dwellings. But the most important advantage is that it will improve the chances of sale, not only because the property has been regularised, but also because a buyer would be more likely to be able to finance it. Also you have to keep in mind that today only few buyers are willing to purchase a house that has not habitation certificate.

This arrangement is a precursor to a tougher policy on illegal construction. This is a last chance for violators of the municipal building regulations and zoning plans, because at the same time as the introduction of this regulation, the statute of limitations for violations after 2014 has been abolished.

In response to reports about extension, we have reviewed the law and looked for official announcements. We could not find anything. We then inquired with the relevant department of the state of Valencia and were informed that the regulation simply had not yet been implemented. The ‘regularisation’ commission has not yet been set up and they are not yet able to deal with applications. It therefore amounts to, more than an official, a factual extension of the deadline. The advice was to obtain information from the Town Hall. Apparently, the State of Valencia allows municipalities to decide for themselves on the time limits within which their citizens can submit applications.

Are there any advantages to regularisation?
In many cases of illegally built dwellings, the statute of limitations has already expired and has become inviolable. The Town Hall can no longer proceed with forced demolition. Why would you initiate an expensive process of regularisation?

The only reason I can think of are situations where people are already involved in an administrative procedure that has not yet ended up in court. The conditions in the regulation make the request for regularisation a reasonably expensive adventure, without any guarantees, but it could be a way out of a possible forced demolition if the Town Hall were to take the initiative.

If an ‘illegal’ home is not regularized, then it is possible that a Town Hall will not issue a permit for construction, perhaps even not for refurbishing or for other elements you want to add to the home such as a swimming pool, BBQ, shed or covered parking space. Also, you are likely not to receive a habitation certificate. If you accept that disadvantage, then the regularization process may not be necessary.

Roeland van Passel