Can I buy a rural property in Spain?
Buying rural land in Spain is very different from buying a rural land in for example the United Kingdom; it can give you a lot of problems. Be very careful if any Real Estate Agent tells you the opposite. You cannot just be sure that everything is correct because the Real Estate Agent shows you the Public Deed. It is much more complicated than that. Most people do not fully understand exactly what is a rural land in Spain because it is very different from their homecountries. We therefor insist that it is very important that you use a conveyance lawyer before buying rural land in Spain.
Tips if you are thinking of buying rural land
1. Is the Property Registered under the seller´s Name?
This might not be the case if the registered owner has passed away recently and the inheritance tax liability has not been sorted out yet. Until the Spanish inheritance tax is not settled the property cannot be registered in the land register, mortgaged or sold by his beneficiaries. It is therefor very important to ask for a Nota Simple.
If the inland property has been passed several times from one generation to the next without anyone a updating the change of ownership at the Land Registry, it cannot be sold. There are some legal ways to overcome this ; such as an ‘Acta de Notoriedad’ or else following an ‘Expediente de Dominio’.
2. Check the public deed. Does the public deed exist?
You must check if there is a public deed but don´t be surprised if it doesn´t. If there is no public deed we recommend you not to buy the property. It can be solved, of course, but the process is long.
If a public deed exists it might be outdated and inaccurate. You should never buy a rustic land until the seller has updated all missing details and the land register. The seller should pay for all these expenses. The seller might have built a swimming pool or an other room that is not registered. Even though these extras have been built, they do not exist legally and the buyer should not have to pay for something that does not exist “legally”.
3. Are There Charges, liens, debts or liens against the property?
If there are debts, they go automatically against the property and not against the owner. You must be aware that if there are any debts or charges, these become the responsibility of the new owner. It is therefor very important that you hire a conveyancer that ensures that the Public deed is passed over free and clear of charges, encumbrances and debts. The lawyer will inform you what you can do and cannot do in case you decide to buy a rural property.
4. Check the information of the the property at the Land register and “catastro”.
• Plot size: It happens often that the size differ from what is reflected at the Land Registry and ‘Catastro’. Why can it be a discrepancy in the two registers? One explanation can be because the land has been extended or reduced due to for example an inheritance procedure. These changes might have been done off record.
• Inaccurate property description: Reforms might have taken place illegally and not reported. The seller should make sure that any reform or change, should appear in both the land register and Catastro.
• Boundaries: The seller should correct and update if there is any discrepancy of the boundaries between the land register and catastro.
5.- Minimun size of the plot.
Rural plots must have a minimum size in order to be able to build on them. Usually the minimun size is 10.000 square meter, but in some Town Halls it can be less.
Hugo Gutierrez Colás, lawyer at Colás Abogados says that if you are buying a rural property it is extremely important to apply for a certificate to the Town planning department that certifies that the house is legally built and that is according to the town planning law.
Hugo continue explaining that many houses built on rural plots are “out of the plan”, (fuera de ordenacion in Spanish). This means that the house was built not following the rules but the infraction has prescribed because the Town Hall did not react on time. This kind of properties have some limitations, for example you will have troubles if you want to make a reform and only small reforms like painting etc will be accepted. You might not even be able to build a swimming pool.
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