On protected land, it is not possible to legalise buildings. | M. Serra


The Balearic government is proposing an amnesty for properties that are, to use the Spanish, 'fuera de planeamiento', meaning that they are outside municipal planning ordinance.

This can arise for different reasons. One is that planning regulations changed. A building may have had a licence in accordance with the urban plan of the time, only to then not fit into a revised urban plan. This is an unintentional cause, as opposed to intentional, i.e. there was building knowing it to be illegal and for which a period to 'legalise' the property has elapsed.

'Elapsed' is the keyword, as the government's intention is to allow legalisation of properties for which sanctions no longer apply because of statute of limitations. In theory and as a consequence of legalising these properties, thousands currently in legal limbo could come onto the market. They aren't at present. Lawyer Juan Alemany points out: "No one wants to buy them."

Related news

In theory, because as legal experts stress, the detail will be in the small print of the legislative text.

Another real estate lawyer, José Manuel Sierra, says: "The fair thing would be to legalise those that meet the necessary requirements to be housing." He adds that large numbers of properties have been in limbo for years. "It is a situation dating back decades, when mayors went so far as to encourage building without a licence in order to have activity in the municipality." And therefore revenue for the town hall.

A complicated situation, and one made more complicated because of conditions which do not entail a statute of limitations and do not allow legalisation. These relate to land that has some form of protected status, e.g. ANEI, Natural Area of Special Interest. Building on this land can constitute a crime as opposed to mere breach of municipal planning regulations.