Official Registration of Alterations or Extensions to Properties

Phillip Wright

I am often asked by property owners if it is possible to get official Town Hall recognition for works carried out some time ago without appropriate Building Licenses. ie Works which have enlarged a property or even created a wholly new property. They are usually very concerned that they could at some stage in the future be fined or even be faced with tearing down that which has been created or altered.

In many cases the answer is yes, you can have the works officially recognized, providing a number of conditions are met:

  • The works carried out must not occupy a protected "green" zone, a public space, a public highway or walkway or a protected site of natural beauty. Enquiries in your local Town Hall should confirm this point one way or the other.
  • At least four years must have passed from when the works were completely finished.
  • That no-one has lodged an official complaint (Denuncia) against the works, which has then been ignored and left unresolved.
  • That your property does not form part of a community where the limit of development has been reached
In Spanish what needs to be applied for is a Certificado de prescripción de infracción urbanística or Certificate of recognition of a planning infraction.

The paperwork needed to apply for this is normally put together by a Technical Architect or Architect. This is because aerial photographs, plans, a description and detailed measurements of the property both in its original and altered state are required, together with the normal accompanying documents such as copy of title deed (escritura), NIE and IBI receipts. Also, within the submission, the same professional must sign a declaration to the effect that the works to the property were completed more that 4 years ago and that the property complies with minimum habitation standards and is structurally stable.

Depending on the Town Hall applied to and complications of consultations to affected parties this process can take from 3 to 6 months. In certain cases, such as where a property is adjacent to the sea, the Spanish Coastal Department will need to be consulted to ensure that there has not been an encroachment into the protected coastal zone. If this is the case it is highly likely that the application will be refused.

Once the application to the Town Hall has been approved, their administration charges paid and the Certificado de prescripción de infracción urbanística has been obtained, this can then be used to draft a complementary property deed. This deed differs from the original property deed as it declares that

  1. new works have been carried out to the property,
  2. describes what has altered and perhaps most importantly,
  3. defines the new revised built area that the property occupies.

Once this deed has been signed before a Notary, taxes can be paid to the Hacienda and then it can then be presented to the Registro de la Propiedad (Spanish Land Registry) where the notarized deed can be registered.

The importance of registering any such improvements is that when the property comes to be sold or passed to heirs, and when the customary searches are requested, the one to the Land Registry will show and describe the distribution and floor area of your property as it actually is. This will make things much clearer and less complicated at a time when delays in rectifying such matters could be costly, time consuming and which could possibly jeopardize a sale. Also, if you or a potential purchaser is having the property valued to raise a mortgage, the person valuing will discover that part of the property is unregistered and will likely recommend that this be rectified. It could result in the mortgage offered being less than you or a potential purchaser had hoped for.


If you or the previous owner of a property you now own has extended that property and you would like to know if you can progress in the manner described above please do not hesitate to contact me, Philip Wright, Spanish Technical Architect and Chartered Building Surveyor to discuss further. My mobile number is 667 757323.