Spain Explained

New law affects home improvements

Last updated on September 25th, 2019 at 06:23 pm.

Did you know that all changes made to your home, however small, need approval from the town hall in Spain? If you go ahead without the proper permission you may have to go through a process of having it legalised. Alternatively, you might even have to restore it to its original state if legalisation’s not possible.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the strict Spanish laws that govern home improvements. In some cases they have been told differently by their builder or even that permission has been sought and granted, when it hasn’t. Without the proper licences not only are the changes you’ve made vulnerable but so is any future sale.

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What is the new law?

Previous laws dictated that illegal work could no longer be chased up by the authorities after a period of time. In the Valencian Region, after 15 years had elapsed, the town hall would no longer have the power to do anything about it. If the work had been done before the 20th August 2010, the period applying is 4 years.

However, this is now changing. In rustic areas, there will no longer be a time limit to act against these illegal constructions. The authorities will still be able to enforce the requirement for licences no matter how long since the building work took place.

Why it’s important

Because the work will be deemed to be illegal you will not be able to declare the work on the deeds and will always have the possibility that you will have to correct the situation. Not having the work registered on your title deeds can cause a number of problems in the future. When wanting to sell your property or when it comes to it being passed on eg. through inheritance, an incorrect listing can hold up the transfer.

Differences between what is specified on your deed and the property itself will become evident during the conveyancing or inheritance process. Before putting your property on the market you should contact a solicitor directly to help you apply for retrospective planning permission and to update your deeds.

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Ábaco advice

We have always recommended that any building work is legalised with the correct licences or Architect’s certificates. With this new law and particularly for rustic property, it becomes even more important.  There is still time to declare existing building work and have it registered on your title deeds.

You can contact our legal department for a personalised study of the possibility of obtaining the correct licences for works you have planned  or legalising the situation retrospectively. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and can check your property’s legal status on your behalf.

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19 June, 2019 4:26 pm

My neighbour is having
My neighbour is having building work done on his property. Looks like a gazebo of some sort built with concreate and bricks.
How do i report this? and the builders are rude spit at my wife and through cigarettes into my

Suzanne O'Connell

24 June, 2019 6:05 am

Hi Paul

Hi Paul

You should make a denuncia at the Guardia Civil police station. You'll be told there what to do next. 

Mrs Rajinder Kalsi

6 October, 2019 4:59 pm

How do I stand, I have a property under the Town Hall Treasa de Confrentes, it was built in 1983, and on protected land. Can I now have the house legalised.

Would like to have feed back on my question if there are any time constraints.

Yours sincerely
Rajinder Kalsi

Oscar Paoli

7 October, 2019 8:00 am

It is difficult to assist you with just this information. We would need a copy of your Title Deeds, a copy of your IBI and we would have to check with your local Town Hall. Should you be interested in this service please contact us at
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Lorraine Raymond

14 October, 2019 9:33 am

We purchased a property 3 years ago
New neighbour wants to build on land between 2 properties a 2 meter wall all along our fence very close in fact
She showed me plan saying the land was hers
And she wants to extend her garden
But wall will cut off all our light and access to the back as well
This has been like this for 50 years
She hasn’t got planning permission
Where do we stand?

Oscar Paoli

15 October, 2019 3:32 pm

Hello Lorraine,
The best option right now is to notify your neighbour by letter and to report your neigbour to the Local Town Hall.
Should you need any assistance please contact us at
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Gill Garnham

4 March, 2020 1:02 pm

Hola, we are repairing the roof to an out building attached to our finca, we were thinking of using it as a seating area too, but we’ve had a visit from the Guardia to say we need a licence. We live in Torremendo and our townhall is Oruhuela. We are not on an urbanisation. What do you think please?

Oscar Paoli

4 March, 2020 3:35 pm

These types of works need a building permit from your Town Hall even if you own a Villa and are not depending on an urbanisation.
Should you need assistance with any permits, please contact us at
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


14 June, 2021 9:20 pm

Hi,we have a cortijo which has been extended by the previous owner and a pool which the lawyer said could be a waterhole on the deeds, we want to sell but don’t know where to start, i think we will be stuck with a property which we can not sell. There is a nota simple and the property is registered although what is actually there does not agree with the register because of the extension and the pool. The property was part of the cadastral amnesty and the cadastral has been updated but not the register, what should we do to sell.

Oscar Paoli

15 June, 2021 11:21 am

Hi Elizebeth,
We would need to have more information regarding you case to be able to answer your queries.
Should you wish to send us information of the property such as a copy of the Title Deed, latest IBI bill and pictures of the property we are happy to check the situation for you.
If so, you can email us at
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


5 August, 2021 10:18 am

I hope you can help.
Our neighbour has build a 2 metre high wall and a swimming pool which he did not ask the neighbours about or inform the community. We are also sure he does not have planning permission and have been to the Town Hall to complain. However, they have not been back in touch with us.
Any advise very welcome.

Oscar Paoli

6 August, 2021 1:19 pm

To be able to know if they really have an obligation to ask the neighbors for permission, we would need to see the title deed and also check if you have the right to report this matter or not. In other words, for example, if there is no horizontal division, it would not be necessary to have permission from the neighbors for the pool. The wall could also depend on the regulations of the council where the house is located. Therefore no general answer can be given unfortunately.

What you can do is file a formal complaint and sign this at the City Hall who, if they are not legalizable works, will have to sanction and order the demolition of the illegal works.

You can also go through the civil court system if the works done seriously affect your rights or cause serious damages to you and your property.

You have 15 years to make a civil claim. If you are in a neighborhood community, we can also recommend informing the administrator so that they can take action in the matter. In this case, the land would be a common area for which the community has an obligation to act (unless the statutes say that each neighbor is free to carry out any works they want).

Hope this information is useful for you.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Elmira V

27 October, 2021 10:59 pm


I am looking for a consultation from you to help me with my case.

I bought a 4-bedroom apartment at 5-stored budling. I am making repairs in the apartment; I didn’t modify the building general structure and facade. I obtained a license from the town hall to perform the internal modifications in my flat.

My modifications are the following:
1. I removed the internal wall that connects the small room with the dining room, so I extended the dining room by 3 meters.
2. I moved a kitchen into the dining room and made and an open space kitchen.
3. I removed the bathroom and moved it in the place of the old kitchen.
4. I relocated drain and water pipes according to the location of the new kitchen and bathroom.

The concerns arise from neighbours who leave upper and below floors that there they might face in the future at their apartments the following issues:
1) Noise in the apartment from an extractor fan in the kitchen during cooking.
2) The smell from cooking.
3) Lack of water supply and drainage block due to modification of water and drain.

I am requesting your consultation on my case above. I would like to know how I can sort out the issue with neighbours.

Looking forward to your reply.

Thank you.

Oscar Paoli

5 November, 2021 1:37 pm

Unfortunately we do not deal with this type of matter, we recommend you find a specialized legal firm who can assist you in this matter.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


9 February, 2022 4:39 pm

My builder undertook renovation work on my house in Altea 2002/3 and now I understand he did not apply for permission..

I now want to sell the property, but the Escritura obviously now needs updating. Will there be problems and a fine for me.

Comments appreciated.

Oscar Paoli

11 February, 2022 9:27 pm


We would need to know where the property is located in order to study the possible prescription of the works. For example, if the property is in the Valencia Region or Murcia, the works would prescribed. In that case you can obtain a certificate of antiquity which “replaces” the licence. With this certificate and some additional documentation, such as the certificate of the community in your case, you could declare the works in your title deeds. If you would like to get more information or assitance in the process you may contact us at

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers


11 February, 2022 7:16 pm

We’re you able to answer my query as my e mail has disappeared from your site.

Oscar Paoli

11 February, 2022 9:27 pm

It seems your query and answer were not published, you should have it now on our site.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

John Steele

22 May, 2022 11:45 am

If someone tries to sell a property in Spain without having main building work approved and correct licences obtained. Can this be classed as an encumbrance if the owners sell the property in the future and the new proposed purchaser is not informed when contracts are drawn up and finds this problem at a later stage ..

Oscar Paoli

25 May, 2022 8:26 am

Hi John,

Without knowing exactly what type of building licences are missing the answer to if this might be classed as an encumbrance for the buyer in the future would be most likely no, but it could be an issue moving forward if the new owner would he/she wish to legalize the situation. If not you may always contact a specialized lawyer who may take the matter to court to see if the purchase can be cancelled/revoked.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers


9 March, 2024 1:06 pm

Hola, we just bought a house in a community and we like to change the aluminum sliding doors and windows same size into PVC doors and windows in the color the community advises. Do we need permission for this upgrade of safety and better windows and doors. Color stays as required
Thank you

Oscar Paoli

13 March, 2024 12:19 am

Hi Marien,
We highly recommend getting the permission from the community to avoid any possible issues.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers