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QF Focus Magazine Important tips on first occupation licence. What on earth is that?


Most of us have blurted this out at least once if not several times in our lives. Yes I am referring to the moment after the trip to the notary when the deeds are signed and the keys to our brand new property are handed. There’s a brand new property to enjoy, but alas when the services companies are contacted for electricity, water or gas, someone trots out the words “Licencia de Primera Ocupación”. What on earth is that?


The notary deed for the purchase of the property only implies that there has been a “declaración de obra nueva” which is an official description of the building broken down into different parts, with each part being marketable. In other words that the property has been certified as a saleable merchandise to the legal world, and therefore can be purchased. This occurs on the purely legal civil and registry level.


Legal to be sold but not without problems.


The property developer can still have obligations with certain public authorities. For example, obligations with the local town hall regarding the infrastructure around the property, as well as responsibility for repairing any damage caused in the public domain as a result of the building works, which may have damaged pavements, roads, lighting, etc. Until such obligations are definitely over and done with, the town hall will not grant “The License of First Occupation”.


This may mean that the owner may not have access to essential supplies such as water, electricity, gas and telephone, and the owner can’t register himself or the family in the local “padrón” or civil register.


If the situation goes on and on, what often happens is that (with the municipality looking the other way) the new owner proceeds to occupy the property with water, electricity, gas etc under the name of the property developer and not his. Unfortunately this is done more often than not.


Problems can ensue if the relationship embitters between the town hall and the property developer. However, the fulfilment of the obligations is up to the property developer, while purchasers are third parties in relation to the administrative proceedings.


Before the building licenses are issued the town hall obtains guarantees from the property developer, ensuring the fulfilment of their obligations. But, sometimes, the property developer infringes so many of these that the amount of the guarantee does not cover the definitive repair of the damage caused.


So although the purchase has taken place before a notary this does not mean that the property is free of other problems, as already indicated.


Therefore, be cautious, and insist that at the time of the sale, the property developer must present a copy of the The License of First Occupation provided by the corresponding town hall preventing problems in the future. I personally wouldn’t buy a property without the The License of First Occupation, and neither should you unless you enjoy running around the town hall looking for application forms and dealing with bureaucrats.


On this theme and in tribute to the response I had the other week with my little joke about builders, here is another one on Spanish bureaucrats.


How many local town hall bureaucrats does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven! One to supervise, one to arrange for the electricity to be shut off, one to make sure that safety and quality standards are maintained, one to monitor fulfilment with local, provincial, and national regulations, one to manage personnel relations, one to fill out the paperwork and one to screw the light bulb into the water tap.


Article supplied by Pacheco & Asociados Architects. See their advert below for contact details.


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