(Summarised article, original was published in the Costa Blanca News Autumn 2015 Supplement).
The new Valencia Land Law (LOTUP) regulations came in force on 20th August 2014, and amalgamated all the old laws relating to land development resulting in thousands of regulation articles being condensed into less than 300. LOTUP is now ordered in three different books; Planning, Development Management and Development Discipline, and these directly affect all land and property owners.
In the Planning book, LOTUP merges the Environment and Development procedures but gives higher importance to the environmental elements which are now top priority, and all development plans need to include landscape integration reports. Planning, included in the first book, may affect the legality and / or configuration of certain properties so it is essential to visit the local Town Hall from time to time to see if any new development plans are being proposed.
The second book, Development Management, includes important regulations for owners of property on agricultural land. Where a property has been built illegally on such land before the law came into force, it offers the possibility of legalising the situation by means of a special initiative called Environment Impact Reduction.
The third book, Development Discipline, is the most controversial and includes the measures that can be taken against illegal building. With the previous Land Law, authorities were able to instigate legal proceedings (i.e. to demand legalisation or if not possible, to order demolition) only within a period of four years after completion of the building work. Now, the LOTUP expands the previous four year term to 15 years. The authorities now have a period of fifteen years during which they can take action against illegal building works, and eventually if legalisation is not possible, to order their demolition.
However, the four year limit still applies to penalty fine proceedings; in other words, whilst new illegal buildings can potentially be demolished for 15 years, penalty fines can only be levied for 4 years.
This third book also includes the regulations covering building licences – one change is that minor building work such as cable installations or maintenance works will no longer need this licence so long as they do not involve enlargement of the property. The licence will be substituted by a responsibility statement at the local Town Hall and an inspection by the authorities.
In any case, before buying real estate or doing any building works, potential purchasers or home owners must visit the local Town Hall in order to ensure that the LOTUP regulations are scrupulously observed. Due to their complexity it would be very easy for a lay person to misinterpret them, so it essential that anyone contemplating business involving property seek guidance from a legal advisor experienced in Land Law – the penalties for non-compliance are strict and severe.
We, as land laws experts, can help you, in case of any doubt or if you are buying or selling a house please, do not hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Connie Raymundo – Lawyer & Barrister at Alicante Solicitors > Raymundo & Hopman.