Carrying out a reform. Tips to avoid conflicts with the neighbours | Final part

Last week we were looking at the different building works that any owner or tenant could carry out within a block of flats or urbanization.


If we understand that there is no "universal rule", other than the legal framework that must follow the by laws of each city hall. However, when the property is within a housing condominium, blocks of flat or any other urbanization governed by the "Horizontal Law" and the internal bylaws should also respected.


Thus, each owner can perform building works modifying the architectural, facilities or services, provided that:

  • Do not reduce or alter the building's security, configuration and general structure, or its exterior state.
  • Do not prejudice the rights of other owners.
  • Communicate the performance of such work previously to the president of the community.

Mayor and Minor Building License.

We did mention last week the main types of building licenses which were. Mayor Building License (Licencia de Obra Mayor) and  Minor Building License (Licencia de Obra Menor).


Characteristics of mayor building works.

The exact characteristics of what is recognised as mayor building works depends of each town hall but normally they are the following:

  • Division of any land into individual saleable plots.
  • Earth movements. (Here I add that by earth movement it is normally consider large earth movements that may change the topographical configuration of any site or plot)
  • Construction of any new buildings.
  • Any structural works or any works that may change the external appearance of any existing building.
  • Works which involves the modification of internal layout of any building regardless of its use. (This is a tricky one, because changing an internal partition would imply changing an internal layout? Normally the answer to this one depends on the interpretation given by local technical civil servant)
  • Before you move into a brand new built house you would require what is call “Licencia de primera ocupación” or  First use licence. (This only item has been sufficient to write a complete article in fact I have written three, please refer to Procedures to follow before you buy a property in Spain (Part I, II and III published on CBN you can find it on my web page)
  • The covering up of any balconies or terraces and any installations in general. (On installation here I interpret this as any new installation such as a complete rewiring or complete water installation in a dwelling not the changing of a tap for example)
  • Construction of any underground parking facilities or any other use built underground.
  • The demolition of buildings.
  • Placement of advertising posters visible from public roads.
  • Cutting down any trees within the town boundaries.
  • Any other acts which may be contemplated in the local planning regulation.

Minor building works.

Licencia de obra menor” Minor building works are normally understood as:

Any works that change any external wall openings, walls, structure, roofs or the interior layout of any building. These works are not subject to a prior license with a project but as mentioned above it does require to be communicated to the Town Hall and pay its correspondent fees.


It is considered to be minor works generally any which it is considered as such due to its simplicity and does not involve the modification of any structural element, changing the external appearance of its façade or the internal layout any building.


What to do if you feel that your rights have been afflicted by your neighbours building works.

If you feel that your own rights have been mistreated by another person's work, the injured party must first consult with the president of the community and find out of the existence of any permit been granted by the community and/or the local town hall. If the owner does not have any of these licenses, then you must report this circumstance to the local town hall.


If the building work had its own building license but you have suffered damage or injury due to a breach of other rules, then the neighbour may submit a request through a bur fax to the owner to try, amicably and within a specified period, perceive compensation costs to cover injuries. Once this period has expired, and no response is received, you can resort to the courts by filing a claim through a lawyer.


Normally sanctions are imposed by the council. But if an individual has been affected personally for example, a neighbour has been injured by tripping over debris materials left in common areas and in consequence has suffered a body injury, the injured party may seek compensation. In relation to compensation, there is a certain scale since it depends on the injury suffered by the victim. For a judge to forbid a neighbour to occupy his own home there must be a very severe infringement of the local bylaws or a continuous disregard of all the rules and precepts of public behaviour.


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