First Occupation Certificate and its importance

Important tips on first occupation license. What on earth...is that?

Most of us have gone through this once or more times. Yes I am referring to the moment at the local notary where the deeds are signed and the property keys are handed over long last. We have a brand new property to enjoy, but alas when the services company are contacted to obtain connection to electricity, water or gas supply, someone mentions the damn words: "Licencia de Primera Ocupación" What on earth...is that?


The notarized deed for the purchase of the property only and simply implies that there has been a "declaración de obra nueva" an official description of the building where by it has been broke down into different parts and each of that part is therefore transmissible or saleable. In other words that property has been certify as a saleable merchandize to the legal world, and therefore can be purchased. This occurs on the purely legal civil and registry level.


Only legal to be sold but not without problems.

However, in addition, the property developer has other obligations with certain public authorities. As a rule, with the local town hall, obligations with regard to the building of the infrastructure around the property, as well as to repairing any damage caused in the public domain as a result of the building works which may have damaged pavements, roads, lighting, etc. Until such obligations are definitely over and done with, the town hall will not grant of the license of first occupation.


This may mean that the owner may not have access to essential supplies: water, electricity, telephone, gas, and even the owner may not register himself or the family in the local "padrón" civil register.


If the situation prolongs itself too long it could imply that, irregularly, and if the municipality allows by looking the other way, the user proceed to occupy the property with water, electricity, supply for building work only under the name of the property developer and not his. This is done more often than not unfortunately.


The problem could worsen further if the relationship embitter between town hall and the property developer. However, the fulfilment of their obligations is up to the property developer, while purchasers are third parties in relation to the administrative proceedings.


The town hall obtain from the property developer guarantees, before the building license are issued, ensuring the fulfilment of their obligations. But, sometimes, the property developer infringe so many abuses that the amount of the guarantee does not cover for the definitive repair of the damage caused, with which the situation of uncertainty could prolong in time.


In view of the above, I would provide two tips for the first home buyer:

Although the purchase has taken place before a notary this does not prevent that the property is free of other problems, as already indicated.


Therefore, be cautious, and insist that at the time of the sale, the property developer must present a copy of the license of first occupation provided by the corresponding town hall. This will prevent future trouble and I venture to declare that I personally would not buy a property without the license of first occupation, unless you enjoy running around the town hall looking for application forms, and dealing with bureaucrats.

On this theme and on the response I had the other week with a little joke about builders here is another one on Spanish bureaucrats.


How many local town hall bureaucrats does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Seven, one to supervise, one to arrange for the electricity to be shut off, one to make sure that safety and quality standards are maintained, one to monitor fulfilment with local, province, and national regulations, one to manage personnel relations, one to fill out the paperwork and one to screw the light bulb into the water faucet.

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