The AFO Certificate in Spain, Andalusia
What does AFO or DAFO stand for?
The AFO certificate (also called SAFO and DAFO depending on the region) is a special regime created in Andalusia – Spain in 2012 to normalise properties built illegally on rural land. Before the DAFO certificate was created, only in Andalusia 300,000 houses were estimated to have this outlaw status. In practice, this meant owning a property which had been built without owning the obligatory licence from the Town Hall. The truth is, in the majority of cases the offence will have already prescribed although it will not be possible to demolish the property. This situation had been leaving many homes in Spain in a sort of ‘no man’s land’, as they could not be legalised neither knocked down. What was even more worrying: this stopped many homes from accessing normal water and electricity supplies. For this reason, the Junta de Andalucia created the ‘AFO certificate’, which is the acronym for ‘Asimilado al régimen de Fuera de Ordenación’, established by Decree 2/2012 (10 January).
When is the AFO certificate necessary?
The DAFO certificate can become necessary for anyone owning a property built in the countryside in two cases, that is:
- when the owner is about to sell the property
- when the City Hall requires the owner to legalise the property.
In the first case, the potential buyer can urge the seller to apply for the AFO certificate as a means of legalizing the property. To obtain the AFO certificate, there will be some costs involved, such as getting an architect to write a project, paying taxes to the Town Hall (depending on the property value), checking the water and electricity supplies, the septic tank and solar panels, although this may vary according to the town .
At this point, both parties will have to negotiate and decide who covers these expenses. In most cases, the seller will agree to bring down the price, so that the buyer takes charge of the AFO procedure upon completion. The main reason for this is that the AFO procedure can often be slow and bureaucratic. In other cases, the expenses will be divided equally (50% to 50%). Nevertheless, it is also possible that the seller refuses to pay these costs, especially if the sale price is very low. In other words, every case is different and must be treated individually by a law specialist.
Once the AFO, DAFO or SAFO is issued, the property will be completely normalised. Although it won’t be possible to demolish the house neither to extend it beyond its current limits, you will be officially allowed to perform maintenance works in it.
Requirements to apply for a DAFO certificate in Spain – Andalusia
First of all, the property for which the DAFO is requested will need to meet certain requirements, including:
- the completed building must be older than 6 years
- it should not be built on protected land (to be analysed depending on the year it was built)
- it should not be built inside the area of an urban settlement
- the wastewater system will also need to be adapted
Please note that the fact that the property already appears in the Property Registry in the Cadastre does not make it legal.