What is the AFO? is a very common question that keeps coming up.
The acronym AFO – Asimilado Fuera de ordenación – has now become a part of the selling process for rural properties.
But why has this come about?
Well the AFO by means of an administrative certificate confirms the legal status of the property as officially recognised out of planning.
This means that although the construction of the property does not comply with the legal planning, the statute of limitation for the Local Council to initiate legal proceedings to reinstate the legal order has elapsed and therefore the property cannot be pulled down.
It also helps the contracting of the services and supplies to the property.
The Junta de Andalucía has made a law that all town halls must have a list of all properties and their legal status as per the Decree 2/2012, of January 10.
This is in the light of the corruption unearthed within the Town Halls illegally granting building permission on land that clearly should not be built on.
Please note this does not make a property legal.
The AFO Certificate does not change the legal situation of the property. It is a legal recognition of the illegal situation of the property with the advantage that the property can have access to the basic services.
However, this document (AFO) will provide written confirmation by the town hall to the Junta de Andalucía in relation to the status of properties on rustic land in their area.
Furthermore, utility companies (water and electricity) are requesting this AFO document when 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.
The amended Andalusia land regulations of 2012 say that a house built before 1975 and with its original building permit 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.
Please note this certificate is only applicable to properties situated on rustic land.
Further to the passing of the above Decree, all the different town halls have drawn up their own regulations for the issuing of this AFO certificate and the tax to pay to obtain the AFO.
So this means that the cost of an AFO will vary from one area to the next depending on that Town Hall’s own regulations.
How to apply for an AFO
Owners of the property need to apply for the certificate at their local Town Hall either in person or through a lawyer.
For houses already on the market, the application process needs to be started as soon as possible.
Alternatively the process can be started once a buyer has been found however this may delay completion of the sale quite significantly and the speed with which certificates are issued depends on the area in which the seller lives.
The first step involves employing an architect to visit the property to:
- Produce comprehensive plans of the property.
- Confirm that the property is habitable with a functioning bathroom and kitchen.
- Confirm that the property has legal electricity and water connections.
- Confirm that the property has proper waste disposal for sewage – a septic tank not a ‘black hole’ or ‘pozo negro’.
This information is then submitted to the Town Hall along with documents including a copy of the:
- Catastro plans,
- latest IBI bill (paid)
- NIE certificates.
So what does the AFO confirm?
- Confirmation that there are no administrative files on the part of the town hall against the construction (or any sanctions or demolition requests for that matter)
- Confirmation that any possible town planning irregularities that may have been incurred have already prescribed.
- Confirmation that the construction complies with the minimum requirements established as far as habitability and health conditions are concerned.
- Confirmation on the kind of works that can be carried out at the property: Only renovation works. (In no case extension or structural works)
- Confirmation that the land is not protected.
Once you have been granted the certificate you then have a Declaración de Asimilado a Fuera de Ordenación (DAFO).
Before applying for the AFO, a property owner must be sure that everything that has been built on their land has been in place for more than 6 years – this even includes pergolas.
The Town Hall will check on the overhead plans produced by the Junta de Andalucía to make sure this is the case 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 so each property owner needs to check with their particular Town Hall.
As experienced property Lawyers in country law, we can advise both sellers and buyers on the legal requirements for selling and buying a property in Spain.
Our experience will ensure you have peace of mind when selling your property or as a buyer purchasing a property in Spain.
Written by Rafael Berdaguer Barbadillo
Berdaguer Abogados – English speaking lawyers