One of the most common confusions when buying a house in Mallorca (or elsewhere in Spain) is to believe that having a certificate of occupancy /habitability certificate in force is equivalent to having a certificate of urban legality. As you will see, this is WRONG and is often used to create a false appearance of legality.
SPECIAL WARNING: Distrust the person who told you that the Cédula de Habitabilidad is equivalent to legality. This statement, either out of ignorance or with the purpose of selling a property quickly, can only lead to problems. In some cases, sellers and agents imply equivalence. The reason is VERY easy; getting a certificate of occupancy / habitability is much easier than getting a certificate of urban legality.
Since the authorities in Mallorca are making a great effort to prosecute illegal construction, buying an irregular property can become e a big problem with incalculable consequences.
I offer the opportunity to test my work for free and get a free report on the potential risks of the property you want to buy.
What is the Habitability Certificate (Certificate of Occupancy) and what is it for?
It is a document that certifies that the building meets the minimum requirements for living in it. It is regulated by Decree 145/1997, of November 21th, which regulates the minimum conditions of habitability of housing and the certificate of habitability.
Without a certificate, basic services such as water, electricity and gas cannot be contracted.
However, a house can meet the basic legal requirements of health and hygiene to live in it, but at the same time it may not be legal from a town planning point of view.
(In the same way, a building can be legal from a town planning point of view, but it can not meet the requirements to be inhabited and therefore not have a Habitability Certificate /Occupancy).
The certificate of habitability does NOT certify the urbanistic legality of a house, neither in Mallorca nor in any other place of Spain.
Where this confusion comes from?
If you google it you will find so many pages saying that certificate it’s about legality. Well, Habitability Certificat, certify the house fits the legal requirement for health and and safety, but has nothing to see with urbanístic situation.
To be clear. A Gas Instalation certificate certify the legality of your gas installation, but has nothing to see with urbanists situation. Same with habitability certificate.
So, why this confusion with Habitability Certificate /Occupancy Certificate and legality?
Well, because in one case, and only one case you can not get the Habitability Certificate if the house it’s not legal. This is when you finish to build a house. In that case to get the Habitability Certificate you need to prove the house has been build following the license, so it’s legal. But this is only one case and as you will see it’s not enough.
What are the cases in which a house in Mallorca has a Habitability certificate /Occupancy and it is NOT legal?
1.- It was constructed with license, the cédula was requested providing a certificate of the city council accrediting that the constructed area corresponds with the license. After obtaining the certificate of Habitability, reforms were made without license and therefore the property was become illegal.
2.- The house had an old certificate of habitability, a complete reform was made without license, or with license but exceeded the allowed. The house continues having certificate of habitability but now it is illegal.
3.- The house was constructed without license, is 100% illegal, but it does not have a file of opened infraction and important reforms have not been carried out after March of 1987. In this case a cédula de habitabilidad can be obtained even though the construction is 100% illegal.
That is to say: THE Habitability Certificate /Occupancy (cédula in spanish) DOES NOT REGULATE URBANISTIC LEGALITY, it only regulates the conditions to live in a property.