The first occupancy licence and the habitation certificate
Armin Gutschick & Anja Sämann-Gutschick
Before buying a property in Ibiza, one should take into account and verify a number of things: building permits, possible charges registered at the Land Registry, payment of all applicable taxes, etc. Many times, both the seller and the buyer underestimate the importance of the first occupancy licence (“licencia de primera ocupación“) and the habitation certificate (“cédula de habitabilidad“).
The first occupancy licence is necessary both when dealing with a new build or with the renovation or extension of an existing building. In Ibiza, it is the corresponding Town Hall who issues the document. In the case of renovations or extension to a building it will be necessary to request a first occupancy licence again. This license is not to be confused with the habitation certificate. Many people have the misconception that this documentation is needed only to complete the construction of a new building. The habitation certificate (“cédula de habitabilidad“) certifies that a building complies with the minimum requirements in terms of size as well as technical and sanitary facilities in order to serve as a house. It is a necessary requirement in order to be able to have access to water and electricity services. The habitation certificate is a document that in Ibiza is issued by the Island Council. It must be taken into account that the document is not valid indefinitely but that it actually expires after ten years and is not automatically renewed by the authorities. Depending on the case, the property will require one of the following three certificates:
- The first occupancy certificate (“cédula de primera ocupación“), which is necessary in the case of new builds or when extending an existing building. In addition to the proof of ownership (a certified land registry report), it is necessary to submit a number of papers to the Island Council: the plans signed by the architect, photographs, cadastral data, building permits and the certificate of completion (“certificado final de obra“) signed by the architect and ratified by the City Council.
- A certificate of renewal (“cédula de renovación“) that must be ordered ten years after the granting of the initial certificate. Together with the application, it is necessary to present a certified land registry report, photographs of the property and a site plan with the cadastral records, signed and dated by the architect. Through the renewal of the certificates, the authorities can check if the buildings have been modified without the relevant permission in the last ten years.
- The “cédula de carencia“ (lack of certificate) can only be requested when the property in question was built before 1 March 1987. This case also requires the presentation of a certified land registry report as proof of ownership, as well as photographs and a site plan. As opposed to the applications for the other two types of certificates, however, this one needs to be accompanied only by a certificate of planning situation of the land stating that the building was completed before 1 March 1987 and that it has not been modified since.
It is clear that renewing an expired certificate is extremely important when selling a property. A valid habitation certificate is also required in order to obtain a license to rent a private house in Ibiza as a holiday home.
When buying a second-hand home one must bear in mind that being registered in the land registry does not necessarily mean that the property has a first occupancy licence or a habitation certificate. The notary who authorises the declaration of new building works for an existing property is not obliged to demand that either of these documents be presented him. For this reason, we recommend that, when it comes to buying a home in Ibiza, you insist that the seller submits this documentation and that you check that everything is in order. •