The new Land Law in Andalusia, passed in December 2021, will allow for building permits to be issued for new detached single-family homes on rural land. However, the implementing regulations for this Law are still being debated by the Andalusia Government, and still subject to change.

That being said, at the end of this article we cover the most important novelties of this Law, in terms of improving/renovating existing homes on rural land in relation to the DAFO/SAFO certificate. This will be a rather important change for most rural house owners in Andalusia.

What was the situation in the past?

The previous law, dating from 2003, did not allow for homes to be built on undevelopable land unless they were connected to farming or forestry operations.

Despite this ban, thousands of homes were built without a building permit, mostly due to strong demand from foreign buyers. In light of the time elapsed without any action from the authorities, these homes were later allowed to be registered in the Property Register, providing legal certainty to their owners, sellers and buyers.

What are the requirements to build on a rural plot?

  1. No special protection in the area
  2. At least 25 m. distance from the border of the plot
  3. There must be a distance of at least 200 metres of other houses
  4. Plots must have a surface area of at least 2.5 hectares (25.000 m2) in rural land and of 5 hectares in forest land (50.000 m2)
  5. It is important to note that this minimum area may be amended through local planning regulations on certain grounds. This is practically certain to occur in many places in the medium term.

How large can these homes be?

The surface area of the home may not exceed 1% of that of the plot and it must be at least 25 metres away from all its boundaries. Homes may also not exceed a maximum height of 7 metres. At the local level, outbuildings may be allowed in addition to the main home, provided that these are smaller than the home itself.

What taxes will be due for building on these lands?

Under the new law, applicants seeking a building permit must pay a tax equivalent to 15% of the execution budget for the home. This is payable upon the building permit being granted. However, the rate of this tax may be reduced locally by each City Hall.

Homes must not form an "urban settlement”

An urban settlement is defined as a group of buildings within a certain area that would require collective infrastructure or services unsuitable for rural lands.

The new Land Law and its Regulations prohibit the formation of new urban settlements in undevelopable land and, therefore, no building permits may be issued to homes forming one.

Need for prior authorisation to obtain the permit

In order to obtain a building permit, it will be necessary to obtain prior authorisation from City Hall. After applying for prior authorisation, the owners of neighbouring plots will be notified and these may object to the permit being granted on the basis of disruption to traditional agricultural or forestry activities.

After obtaining prior authorisation, owners will have one year to apply for a building permit. This will make it possible for the owners of a plot to obtain this authorisation and then sell it to a buyer with the guarantee that they will be able to build a home on it.

Ability to refurbish homes considered Equivalent to Unregulated Homes (DAFO/SAFO).

Additionally, the new Law has introduced a significant change for homes with Unregulated or Equivalent status (DAFO/SAFO). While, in the past, only works related to health and safety were allowed, it will not be possible to obtain permits to carry out refurbishments and improvements.

It is very important to note that, to obtain a refurbishment permit for a home on rural land, it must have a DAFO/SAFO resolution or this procedure should be underway. In my opinion, this makes it more appealing to obtain a DAFO/SAFO resolution for those homeowners who have yet to do so.