Should you complete without a habitation certificate?

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23 Sep 2008 12:00 AM by izzy999 Star rating. 56 posts Send private message

Should you complete on a property without a habitation certificate? If you do what is the legal situation if there are any problems?

Thanks Izzy

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23 Sep 2008 8:51 AM by tinto. Star rating in Scotland & Nr Estepo.... 243 posts Send private message

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Short answer NO

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23 Sep 2008 8:59 AM by Tish Star rating in Surrey. 833 posts Send private message

Don't even THINK about completing without the LFO. Read other links regarding this topic. There are plenty of them! Here's one to help you.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

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I've made 22 posts

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First Occupancy Licence

Friday 27th June 2008

What is it?

Upon the granting of the Certificate of End of Construction (CEC), the developer may apply for a First Occupancy Licence (spelled LFO or FLO for short, AKA as “Cédula de Habitabilidad” in some parts of Spain). The LFO is a an Administrative licence which the Town Hall where the development is located issues and validates that the development fully complies with the original Building Licence (BL) granted by that same town hall as well as complying fully with all Planning laws. The inspection to grant this Licence is carried out by town hall chartered technicians that certify that the dwelling fully complies with health, access, security, planning and construction laws and is deemed fully fit for human habitation.

No one can hurry up the granting of the LFO, neither the developer nor us the lawyers; its granting depends solely on the Spanish town hall’s civil servants. The Town Hall will allow time for the developer to mend any planning irregularities or pending work.

How long does a LFO take to be granted?

This will depend on various factors. If the town hall technicians detect irregularities in the development or deviations from the original BL then the LFO will be delayed until the developer fixes these problems. In a smaller town you can reasonably expect the LFO to be issued within a few months of having submitted the CEC providing the development has no major irregularities. In large cities, such as Marbella, the granting may be pulled back even six months or more due to the work overload of the Town Hall.

Why is it needed?

The owner of the property needs it because the official utilities that offer supplies (water, electricity, gas, telecommunications) require under Spanish law the LFO to hook up the dwelling to the supply grid. Although in some parts of Spain there have been reported cases of supply companies waiving this and connecting you without said Licence and may only require the application of having requested the LFO from the Town Hall.

Is every off-plan development issued a LFO?

Yes. A development is normally compromised by various phases as it’s built in various stages over time. For each of these phases a LFO may be granted by the town hall. So for example in a huge development of 300 units grouped in 4 phases there could be 4 LFO, one for each phase. This could well mean that even within the same finished development some properties may be legal (with a LFO granted) and others units are not habitable yet legally. You could only tell which are legal by means of hiring a lawyer who will advise you on the matter.

What risks are there if there is no LFO granted?

The lack of granting a LFO by the town hall after 2-3 years of having submitted the CEC normally underlies a serious problem. Said problem can arise from a myriad of causes such as planning problems (i.e. the development had only been granted a BL for two storey’s and four have been built or the property has been built in an area zoned as Green Belt), it could mean there might be a health hazard because there is a breach of the Health law (i.e. the sewage pipeline is incorrectly laid out).

One of the most recent cases occurred in the peaceful town of Catral in Valencia, Costa Blanca, developments have been finished and sold without the LFO granted. 1.200 houses are now deemed illegal. It turns out many of those dwellings were built within the perimeter of a National Park zoned as Green Belt land. The Government has announced that it will pull them down.

I have read that completion without a LFO is illegal.

This is a common misconception. Completion on a property, before a Spanish Notary Public without a LFO is legal in Spain and the property will be lodged under your name at the land registry. However, it is not legal to occupy/live in a property without the mandatory Administrative LFO. So basically you legally own a dwelling which is uninhabitable legally until the LFO is granted by the Town Hall. Many off-plan purchasers on having waited for years on end until the granting of their LFO or with no prospects of it ever being granted due to Planning illegalities have decided to litigate and obtain a full refund of their stage payments in fear of the developers going into receivership.

What are the associated problems of completing on a property without a LFO?

Although it is legal to complete in such a case, it has numerous legal and practical drawbacks which ought to be highlighted by your lawyer to aid you in making an informed decision. To name a few:

• Primarily, you will not be able to take out a mortgage on the property or remortgage it - if needed be- by any bank other than the developers.

• You will not be able to benefit from the official utility supplies; only from the developers supplies (water and electricity) with all the associated problems this has, namely that you may be cut off at any time as it’s the developer who is paying for it and if they go into receivership you will be cut off. Besides this, the site supply electricity doesn’t have the same strength and power surges are fairly common if simultaneously turning on various electrical appliances such as a/c.

• Any future prospective purchaser, or their lawyer, will haggle with you and only pay a lower purchase price if you lack a LFO. In a resale, the purchasers in turn will undergo the same problems to secure finance by means of a mortgage loan. A lack of a LFO implies that you are actually reducing the base of potential purchasers for your resale.

• If there are planning issues, the town hall can set a charge against the property and you as the new owner of an off-plan –and not the developer- may be held liable to pay the fine for the planning illegality.

• Needless to say, you cannot let a property without a LFO.


It is generally recommendable to complete in off-plans only if a LFO is in place having being granted by the town hall. However there are exceptions to this general rule.

If the development complies fully with all the required planning permissions, you lack a Bank Guarantee, there’s no ruling affecting the BL due to planning issues and there is a high risk of the developer filing for bankruptcy in the near future, it would be advisable to complete. You would still have to wait until the LFO is granted to live in it but at least now there is no risk of you losing your funds if the developer becomes bankrupt.

Until completion the property belongs to the developer.
So if you still have not completed and the developer becomes insolvent the property lodged under his name may be seized by the developers’ bank or any other creditor that places a charge on it at the land registry. If you have no Bank Guarantee and afore happens it is then very likely you will forfeit your down payments. However, cases differ and require a case-by-case study by your appointed lawyer.

This message was last edited by Lawbird on 9/3/2008.

This message was last edited by Tish on 9/23/2008.

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23 Sep 2008 11:06 AM by izzy999 Star rating. 56 posts Send private message

Thanks for the quick replies and help.

Regards Izzy

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02 Oct 2008 8:37 PM by Just Dan Star rating. 440 posts Send private message



Plan A   100% correct that you should not complete without a habitation licence

PLAN B  Many do not complete on a development using this in many cases as an excuse to not complete
               The developer goes bellly up and deposit is lost  in almost all cases .

Think perhaps it should be considered on a case by case basis.
Obtain as much information as you can,why there is a delay as it may be somethng very small.
Could always consider completing with a sum held pending the issue of the licence.
Have you an offer on a mortgage that may not be there in the future because of the credit crunch
Remember Multi thousands have completed for many many years without and it was the norm.
Remember also that many followed this advice years ago when the exchang e rate was 1.50 at what cost now.

AGAIN  The advise is right and follow Plan A .  However you need to look at what happens if you dont consider plan B and the bottom line is its easy to give advice if its not your money.

Best of luck whichever you decide and think it may be a case damned if you do and damned if you dont

Just Dan

This message was last edited by Just Dan on 10/2/2008.

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10 Jun 2010 4:42 PM by I love marbella Star rating. 2 posts Send private message

 All I can say on this subject is that the first villa I was going to purchase  did not have one, and that my solicitor told me to not even put a deposit down until it was in place 

Eventually tired of waiting I found another villa with all the correct paperwork and am now very happy improving my golf in beautiful Marbella. 

From the things I have heard since , I am very happy that my solicitor was so strict, even though I got upset with him, because the agent and seller kept telling me it was of no importance.  The solicitor got into a huff and told me that not having  a LFO can be for many reasons .(the reasons can be from very small reasons to very important reasons). 

His conclusion though was that in my case with no money handed over , I should simply keep away from the property. He did say that if I had already paid over a lot of money , did not have bank guarantees etc, then he would have looked into the matter further as it would be a case of making a choice between two possible evils.

My solicitor is English , but educated in Spain as a Spanish abogado. He has a five year old that has been playing golf since he was two.   

I am very happy with my new life in Marbella. 













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11 Jun 2010 6:36 AM by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9380 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

 Great advise ( re: I love Marbella). Congartulations to you and your solicitor



Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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24 Jun 2011 10:49 PM by GeorgieC Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

 Looks like it's a bad idea to buy (or try to sell) without a habitation certificate

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25 Jun 2011 12:03 AM by bobaol Star rating. 2253 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

 Habitation certificate requirements are a fairly new "must have" for properties.  Many have not been issued because of incompetence by local councils.  A couple of years ago, the water companies decided they would not issue new contracts without the property having one.  Despite the fact that some properties had had water supplies, electricity supplies etc for many years, the habitation certificate became the must thing to have.  Some councils have still not got around to issuing these certificates and have found yet another cash cow to screw money out of the homeowner by charging for them.  It also seems that only the British sellers/buyers make a big thing out of them as several properties near me have been sold recently to Spanish and E European buyers and they definitely do not have the certificates as yet despite the local council promising to issue them for the last 3 years.

Yet another way the Spanish authorities have come up with put people off buying in the area.  However, to be safe, you should not buy a property without one as you may find it difficult to get your water and electric supplies put back on (without paying extra, of course).  

Sorry to be so cynical but, on my new property, the licences were held by our builder and issued to us only when we went down and asked for them.  The builder couldn't understand why we put so much importance on these as none of their Spanish buyers had been in and asked for them.  Indeed, two of the properties had been sold before completion so the certificates weren't seen as that important.  And if they are that important, how come the water and electric companies can still charge and the councils continue to take their council tax on a regular basis without these being issued?  If they are "not fit for habitation" they are surely not fit to be taxed!


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23 Apr 2016 10:56 AM by Poedoe Star rating in Berkshire, England. 83 posts Send private message

FOL = First Licence of Ocuparion otherwise known as the HABITAION CERTIFICATE.

I purchased my apartment in 2007, and have still not been granted the FOL or HC. The builder signed the Building of as complete and then ceased to trade. The Lawyer told numerious lies and is still trading along with the Builder who now trades under another Name. The Spanish Law has let so many purchasers down by allowing the so called Notary who worked above the Law. cheating thousands of working with the builder and paying him the monies held by the Notary until the complex was completed.

April 2016. 9 years after completing on our property still No sign of    FOL / HC.have been supplied,. 2 Adminastrator's have tried to obtain the legal paperwork. A new company of Lawyers have been employed by the Community.during the 8th year we at last were able to have meters for the Water, but still wait for the individual Electricity Meters, because we have no FOL or HC. Our Community have saved the huge sum for the Electrical parts that the Builder removed to fit to another of his sites.

Our current Administrator has worked hard to sort many of the problems out but we still wait for the local council to grant the HC. Without which the Local police will not help if we need help with squatters. The community Fund has paid to keep the complex safe & secure. After the cost of the numerous repairs made by these undesirable people.

1st, I blame the Builder, 2nd the Agent who told us we were purchasing the last apartment available. 3rd The Lawyer who told lies and a waste of time and is still trading & 4th & last of all the Notary who favored the Builder and paid him the funds that were held for the completion of the Road & several areas of the Building. the Lift has not worked because the builder failed to pay the bill & the company removed the working part., Our Spanish home is now worth just a third of the value we paid in 2017.  After 10 years perhaps the community will soon be able to enjoy the their homes. without all the worry.we have had over the last 9 years. Our dream may then come true. Yes we did all the correct things before purchasing, its the Spanish Law that let us down. 



This message was last edited by Poedoe on 23/04/2016.


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23 Apr 2016 2:38 PM by acer Star rating. 1492 posts Send private message

I am sorry to hear of your situation.  I mean that, but there are many in the same boat and some much worse off.

I see you include your solicitor at the time in the blame ..."I blame...The Lawyer who told lies and a waste of time and is still trading"...but these guys should be top of your list, not third!!! 

You should expect the Builder and the Agent to try to to get you to buy, that is their business - but your solicitor is paid by you to make you aware and dissuade you from buying without the correct legal documents in place.  These guys should be the focus of your anger - why not name them on here?

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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23 Apr 2016 11:03 PM by ads Star rating. 4108 posts Send private message

If there was a compulsory requirement to provide all legal documents at point of purchase which is the most logical solution you wouldn't have all these " after the event" problems, so why isnt the conveyancing system being reformed which would ensure safe transmission of property from the outset?.

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24 Apr 2016 7:33 AM by windtalker Star rating. 1870 posts Send private message

I have a villa on Camposol the urbanisation  has approximately 4,500 property, s that have no habitations licence the local council watched all these property, s being built and are insisting that Camposol is not legal Camposol was not built overnight it took. Masa the builders 15 years to build I have all the other paper work that is required but no habitations certificate ,l have a water meter/electric meter/pay full IBI and yet the council are still insisting that the Camposol urbanisation is not legal ,so why are the banks giving mortgage,s why are we payin IBI /water meter/ electric meter ,So why are the local council /Lawyer,s/notaries  allowing property on Camposol to bought and sold without the habitation certificate or is it the same old get out of jail card This is Spain manyana  that the Spanish keep playing .



This message was last edited by windtalker on 24/04/2016.

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24 Apr 2016 9:46 AM by acer Star rating. 1492 posts Send private message


I believe you'll find that generally local solicitors in Mazarron don't bat an eyelid when asked to act for a purchaser, but a solicitor from a different area, say Alicante or Murcia city is likely to question the choice of a purchase of a property on Camposol and sales fall through.  This seems to have an adverse effect on the price of properties on Camposol.

It appears to be a bit of a fudge by Mazarron Town Hall that is now accepted locally with all including notaries, but other areas will see the matter differently.

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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24 Apr 2016 12:14 PM by Poedoe Star rating in Berkshire, England. 83 posts Send private message

Any property Purchaser in Spain that completes on a property that has no First Ocupation Licence or Habitation Certificate are dicing with danger.  PLEASE make sure your lawyer, Estate Agent & the Notary have proof that the certificate has been granted by the government & officials in the area you are purchasing.

Thousands of purchasers like us are still waiting after many years. If these legal beavers say the properties have  certificates. get it in writing before completing & parting with your funds. We asked our Spanish Lawyer and were told everything is legal and the certificates were in Place. 9 years later we are still waiting. Its a a perminent worry and should not happen. . 


This message was last edited by Poedoe on 24/04/2016.


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24 Apr 2016 4:30 PM by eddie69 Star rating. 44 posts Send private message

Has anyone had their reservation deposit refunded by the estate agent if after paying it they discover the property doesn't have the correct paperwork?

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24 Apr 2016 5:52 PM by windtalker Star rating. 1870 posts Send private message

I should think from a legal point of view the agent would be obligated to return you're deposit the agent should then persue the seller that has mislead for his selling free as they have mislead both you and him .

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25 Apr 2016 1:31 PM by Jack5340 Star rating in Calahonda Costa Del .... 55 posts Send private message

We started buying offplan at the beginning of 2004 for completion in March 2006. This is in Sitio de Calahonda.

In March 2006 the developer sent us a letter telling us we had to complete in one month or we would lose our deposit.

We called our abogado and she told us that she did not recommend us to complete as the FOC was not yet done and this could cause us lots of problems if it was not issued. When we said about the letter she said don't worry about that, leave it to me. There were no more letters to us although several people did complete (but with other abogados).

Obviously we were worried but she kept us updated and in March 2007 she called to say that all licences were now in place and we could sign.

So even then some abogados were doing it correctly and putting their clients interests first.

Been living there almost 7 years now and loving it.

Don't say you can't do something without adding the word YET after it.

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25 Apr 2016 8:11 PM by Vince74 Star rating in Essex U.K. 4 posts Send private message

We are in process of buying in Estepona, a bank owned new property. I have been told the First Ocupation Licence has been revoked by town hall. But others have moved in and the spa and golf club are renting out apartments in same block. 

Our Lawyer had ask for this for this paper work at the start from the bank and was told all is in hand. Only to find that on the date to complete this wasn't the case. We are still awaiting an answer from Sabadel. As I understand it's against the Law to sell a property without this, or to habitate or apply for any services without this licence.

Thankfully  we have Lawyers in Marbella that I would highly recommend and who are working for us and not the vender. 

Hope to complete soon with a 100% legal purchase.


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30 Apr 2016 8:55 AM by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9380 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

Very good!

Never buy without First Occupation License. Itis the legal status of your hosue- with all its present and future consequences--- what is involved



This message was last edited by mariadecastro on 30/04/2016.


Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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