Rural properties and licenses in Spain- AFO

Filed under : Conveyancing & Property Law

The acronym AFO – Asimilado Fuera de ordenación – has become a talking point amongst rural property owners and buyers in many areas of Spain. This is because many regions have brought in regulations governing properties built in rural areas either without a license from the Town Hall or built before such licenses were issued.

Town Halls are now obliged to record which properties in their areas do have licenses and which don´t. These rules were brought in at least in part after a series of corruption scandals which allowed people to build in rural or protected areas. It is, of course, important to protect rural areas from overbuilding.

However, this is creating a problem for owners of properties that may have been built more than 20 years ago as they now need to obtain the AFO on a property of low value where the cost of the technical work, improvement of waste treatment, payment of a tax to the Town Hall etc. may cost as much as 15.000€.

Alongside this is the delay which in some cases means the various permissions and work cannot be completed for months. Although this appears to be a legal issue it in fact requires the work of an architect or Arquitecto tecnico and in some cases installation of new septic tanks, permissions from road and river authorities and other technical modifications to the property.

The good news is that, although some way off, the regional government of Andalucia has put forward changes to the law that would speed up applications and allow Town Halls more discretion in dealing with the actual situation of older properties which cannot be renovated until they have the AFO.

Our firm works with a number of specialized professionals who can assist with obtaining the AFO. In some cases it may also be necessary to sign a Deed of New Work – obra nueva – which might be required if you have modified your property. Call us on 952 527014 or email [email protected] and speak to a specialized property lawyer about your particular case.