The Junta de Andalucía regional government approved on Tuesday a decree to regularise homes built with illegal planning permission. There are an estimated 327,000 properties in this precarious position in Andalucía, with thousands owned by foreign residents.
Many of these illegal homes are in the Axarquía area of Malaga province, as well as the Almanzora valley in Almeria, the countryside around Cordoba and the eastern plateau of Granada province.
The last decrees in 2012 to 2018 only managed to remove some 1,500 homes from the legal stalemate, says the Junta, but now Tuesday's new decree should resolve the vast majority of the cases by trying to reduce bureaucracy and create more flexible planning categories that the homes can fit in to, even if they are still outside the municipalities' approved town plan. Regional ministers stressed that they need the town halls' and owners' support to make the new decree work. However the Junta explained that this is not an amnesty for homes built in environmentally-sensitive areas.
The main thrust of the new decree is that to regularise a home, a time period has to have passed so there is no illegal judgement pending, which normally expires after six years from construction, so as not to fall foul of the court system.
The decree offers a range of possibilities for town halls to regularise properties from larger housing developments through to more isolated homes, a principal aim being to get basic municipal services and utilities to them that may have been refused up to now due to their illegal status. In addition, the Junta hopes that now owners can start to sell their homes or their heirs receive them as inheritance without legal uncertainty.
A further key aim is to allow the property development affected to be properly finished and landscaped and so improve their environmental impact, and plan land and water use more effectively.
The key vehicle to achieve these aims will be the expansion of the AFO category of a property regulated and tolerated outside the town plan (Asimilado fuera de ordenación) that was introduced in previous decrees. The classification doesn't legalise the property, but recognises that an illegal property has rights to services and utilities and can be entered on the official land registry, as well as letting owners make improvements. Up to now only standalone rural properties built illegally could be regularised this way, but now the rules have been extended to larger developments and properties built on non-rural land.
Councils will also have to provide basic services to larger irregular developments once they agree costs with the homeowners.