Obtaining an AFO for a Country Property on the Costa del Sol

Obtaining an AFO has now become a big part of our selling process for rural properties in the Andalusian region.

What is an AFO? (Asimilado Fuera de Ordenacion)

An AFO is an administrative certificate that confirms the legal status of the property officially recognised out of planning permissions. A property may not have a licence of 1st Occupation or may have had extensions that have not been carried out with the relevant planning consent.

Some properties had licences that were given and have now expired or have been revoked in some cases. The AFO in simple terms does not make the house legal! It does however regularise a property! Be aware it can have restrictions attached! Once given that means it has been recognised and regularised as of the date issued and as it stands of that date. So no new changes can be made after the AFO has been given.

If you purchase a property with an AFO it is purchased with the knowledge of what is there now is it basically, you can not go building extensions, etc.. and a house with an AFO that does not currently have a swimming pool, you can not put one in, however you can have an above ground one installed without it affecting the AFO. In some areas you can apply for a licence of works to the town hall presenting your AFO, however this is not guaranteed and is purely down to the Town Hall if they grant you permission or not.

So if you are purchasing a renovation project, or a property that requires any alterations, please get your solicitor to check with the relevant town halls to see what or if there would be a restriction because of the AFO. We see so many houses, normally too cheap to be true, but they normally do not have this documentation.

The AFO Certificate does however allow the property to have access to the basic services.

Utility companies, water, electricity etc are requesting an AFO upon receiving an application for connection.

Likewise, should a license to carry out renovation work on an existing property be applied for, the town halls are also requesting to see the AFO certificate before they can issue the renovation license.

There is an amended Andalucia land regulations in 2012 that says a house built before 1975 and with it´s original building permit/licence does not need an AFO. However they also grant power to the individual Town Halls to administrate their urban planning, which means if they insist on an AFO it has to be done.

Since the Decree was passed, all of the local town halls have drawn up their own regulations for the issuing of the AFO certificate and the amount of tax you have to pay to obtain one. So it is so important as a purchaser to make sure the property has this document prior to a sale being completed.

How to apply for an AFO

The owner of the property has to apply for the certificate at their local Town Hall either in person or through a lawyer. Spanish Property Choice has been given recommendations by past clients who have gone through this process successfully with their solicitor and we are happy to put you in touch with them to discuss this further should you wish.

The application process needs to be started as soon as possible to aid a quick and efficient sale, what you do not want is to start the process when you have a buyer! it will either hold up the sale and cause unnecessary stress or it could scupper the deal all together.

To start the process you need to employ your architect who will then need full plans of of the property, confirm the property has water and electricity connections, confirm it has a functioning kitchen and bathroom and part of the permission is to have a 3 chamber Pozo installed.

Then this paperwork is submitted to the local town hall along with copies of the ecritura, catastro information, IBI bill and your NIE numbers.

You will then once granted will have a Declaración de Asimilado a Fuera de Ordenación (DAFO).

One bit of advise – Make sure that everything that has been built or extended on the land has been there for more than 6 years! This includes pergolas, car ports etc.

The local Town Hall will check all the overhead plans produced by the Junta de Andalucia and even Google Maps to confirm the declaration and if something has not been in place for the requisite 6 years then the Town Hall may require it to be removed. This does vary from Town Hall to Town Hall but best check it out before applying.