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PROPERTY

How you can now build your dream home on rural land in Spain’s Andalusia 

Authorities in the southern Spanish region are opening up the possibility of building detached two-floor homes, container homes and other types of property on rural land, something that hasn’t been allowed until now. 

build rural land andalucia
Andalusia, together with Extremadura, are the only regions where you can build on rústico land in Spain. Photo: Q K from Pixabay

In Spain land is distributed into three categories: urbano, urbanizable and rústico.

Urbano land has official municipal accreditation for residential properties to be built on it, urbanizable is theoretically meant for residential purposes but needs accreditation and often isn’t connected to the water, sewage or electricity grid yet, and rústico is rural land where residential properties cannot be built, also called no urbanizable

When looking to buy a terreno (plot of land) in Spain with the intention of building on it, it’s essential you check on the cadastre what the plot you’re interested in is classified as. 

Otherwise, you may be bitterly disappointed to find out that the land you’ve bought in the Spanish countryside can only be used to plant olive trees.

This law has been problematic for many foreigners and locals in Spain who want to build a home from scratch, as many isolated plots far from other properties end up being rústico.

Fortunately for those in the southern region of Andalusia, and those intending to have a second home there, the laws are being changed to give more flexibility to prospective homeowners. 

Andalusia’s new land law will allow people to build homes of up to two floors on rústico (rural) land, as long as it doesn’t lead to the development of new settlements. 

The legislation will also help to regularise the situation of 300,000 properties built on rústico land across the region which up to now have been in a legal limbo, including the cave homes found in cities like Granada.

Each municipality will have the final say on how much space there must be between rural homes, but the Ley para el Fomento de la Sostenibilidad del Territorio de Andalucía (LISTA) legislation does state that rústico plots given the green light for construction must be very big, at least 2.5 hectares in size (25,000sqm). In forested areas, the requirement may be increased to 5 hectares.

As large as that may sound, there are rústico plots over 2.5 or 5 hectares on sale in Andalusia for as little as €10,000. 

rural land andalusia

An example of no urbanizable plots in the province of Jaén, as listed on Idealista.

Andalusia is after all the second biggest region in Spain in terms of surface area with 87,600 km², so there is plenty of space in el campo (the countryside). 

And non-buildable land is also generally considerably cheaper than urbano land, opening up the possibility for people to get some good deals. 

READ ALSO: A Spanish architect’s step-by-step guide to building a home in Spain

The legislation also stipulates that constructed houses must not be more than seven metres high (one or two floors)  and that structures must not exceed one percent of the plot in rural areas and 0.5 percent of the plot in forested areas.

As for water and electricity, the regulation establishes that “they must be guaranteed in an autonomous and environmentally sustainable way”, which suggests being off the grid with everything from solar panels, individual water storage tanks and off-grid sewage systems. 

It will also not be possible to level sloping land or change the topography of more than 30 percent of the plot.

Although this is evidently good news for people who want to build a house in rural Andalusia, regional authorities will require each person who is given a building permit to pay the municipality in question the equivalent of 15 percent of the total construction budget. It’s what they call in Spanish ‘una mordida’ (a bite), because this is Andalusian politics after all.

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For members

RENTING IN SPAIN

How to rent a property in Spain without a job contract

When looking to rent in Spain, property owners and estate agents often ask for a 'nómina' and work contract - something that can prove tricky if you're self-employed or not working. Here's how to prove your solvency and secure the rental.

How to rent a property in Spain without a job contract

If you’re looking for a house or apartment to rent in Spain, there can be a multitude of different factors to consider.

The price, the size, the location, the neighbourhood, which floor the flat is, on and whether there’s a lift, whether it’s interior or exterior, how many apartments there are per floor, whether to go private or through an estate agents and, of course, the search itself.

When you’re going on visits, you’ll have to contend not only with owner or agent trying to ‘sell you’ the place, but also explaining the terms and conditions (often referred to as las condiciones or requisitos para entrar).

In Spain, the process can be a little complicated. Often landlords ask for two months deposit upfront, and those that go through an intermediary estate agent tend to ask for two months, plus an extra month (plus VAT, or IVA as it is in Spain) that goes to the agent! It certainly adds up. 

Not only that, but very often in Spain you are expected to prove you will be able to pay your rent every month. And it’s not as simple as you might think. 

Most estate agents or landlords think hat the best way to ascertain this is by you providing proof of an employment contract (contrato laboral) and recent payslips (la nómina) that demonstrate you are paid the same amount every month, and that it’s enough to cover the rent and other expenses.

Here’s where things can start to get tricky for self-employed people (known as autónomos in Spain), who number more than 3 million in Spain.

Regardless of whether your monthly autónomo earnings are high pretty much every month, regardless of how consistent they may be, or even if you have regular clients, the irregular and insecure nature of Spain’s work market have ensured that landlords and realtors take a rigid attitude towards the rules.

This is especially true following the turbulent economic times of recent years as we’ve moved from global pandemic to war in Europe to spiralling inflationary pressures on the global economy.

Landlords want to be sure you can pay the rent. Therefore, they may favour a waiter with a nómina of €1,000 a month over an autónomo who can prove monthly earnings double that for the previous six months. Doesn’t seem fair, right? 

READ MORE: Why you should be raising your rates if you’re self-employed in Spain

Well, that’s often how it can be in Spain. Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation, there are various ways you can convince potential landlords that you are financially solvent enough to rent their property, with or without a fixed contract

The law

Now, it is not unheard of – in Spain nor anywhere else in the world – for an estate agent or landlord to try and squeeze more money out of you, or to add on some extra charges. In most people’s experience, Spanish estate agents and landlords are no better or worse than anyone else, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

It has been known, however, for some in Spain to try and get an extra month’s deposit by telling potential tenants that they need a nómina by law in order to rent a property in Spain, and that they’re doing you a favour by allowing it.

Simply put, this is not true. According to Spanish law, more specifically, La Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (Urban Renting Law), although many landlords require some form of financial insurance, there is absolutely nothing to say a nómina is necessary to rent a property in Spain. A deposit is legally required, but a nómina?

Helpful? Certainly. Legally necessary? Definitely not.

That said, if you explain to the property owner that you’re self-employed, some landlords maybe be willing to make other arrangements to ensure the rent.

Here are some options, and other bits of paperwork that could help:

Aval bancario: Like a bank guarantee, some landlords request tenants without nóminas or work contracts to set up an aval bancario.

You must pay in an agreed amount (often worth the value of two or three months of rent, sometimes more) into a bank account that you’re a customer with.

It’s money that you cannot touch for an agreed period of time and which you pay some interest on, and in the event that you do not pay your rent, the landlord will be able to access said funds.

This is not the cheapest way to rent a property, but it may be one of the more effective ways of convincing a landlord to accept you as a tenant.

If you pay your rent diligently every month and prove that you are reliable, after a year you should speak to your landlord to ask them them to cancel the aval in order to not continue paying interest on it and recover your stored money.

Anuncios de particulares: If you’re using the usual rental search engines like Idealista or Fotocasa, the vast majority of rental adverts are from estate agents (inmobiliarias) who ask for all the proper documentation, including contracts and pay slips, and often the extra month’s rent as a fee.

When you’re making your search, keen an eye out for anuncios particulares , which are private ads direct from landlords.

Sometimes if you deal directly with the owner themselves, they are less strict about rules with regards to nóminas and contracts. Maybe you’ll get really lucky and find a landlord that takes a liking to you and who only asks for one month’s deposit.

Seguro de impago de alquiler: A landlord may be more likely to rent to you even if you don’t have a nómina when they have seguro de impago de alquiler, non-payment rental insurance. It protects the landlord for the duration of the contract and covers the rent and any repairs or legal fees.

IRPF: IRPF is Spain’s personal income tax, and providing your most recent income tax return could help put your potential landlord at ease by proving that what you’ve earned over the last year could cover the cost of the rent.

Seguridad Social: Similarly, providing proof of your social security payment can help prove your financial solvency.

Bank statement: a simple bank statement to show account activity – and that you have enough to pay the rent and deposit, of course – might ease the mind of your landlord as it allows them to see your incomings and any debts you might have.

IVA: Showing your VAT (IVA in Spain) returns could be another tool that, when used in conjunction with other ways of proving your solvency, could convince a landlord to rent to an autónomo.

Pensioner documentation: If you’re retired and you’re looking to rent, any official documents which show how much pension money you receive every month, along with bank statement reflecting savings, should suffice to convince a landlord or estate agent that you’re solvent.

READ ALSO: Renting in Spain: Can my landlord put up my rent due to rising inflation?

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