Why is it important to have your property’s certificate of occupancy?

13 July, 2011 2 Comments

There are still many clients who put their home for sale in the second hand market and do not know that in order to sell the property with the presence of a notary, they are required to have the certificate of occupancy updated. In the case of not having the certificate, the client will not be able to sell or rent the property, bearing in mind that it also needs to be updated (less than 15 years). This certificate is also necessary to contract the services of water, gas and electricity.

This document certifies that the home is habitable, and that the building has a solid and reliable infrastructure, which are established by the Decree of the Catalan Government. The bank may also request it as a condition to approve a mortgage. To obtain the certificate of occupancy, an architect inspects the property and issues the certificate of occupancy, which is then delivered to Habitatge de la Generalitat, and after the payment is received, the owner will get it in 20 days. If the owner is uncertain whether the certificate is expired or lost, the secretary of Housing will be able to determine if he needs to make a duplicate or make a new one.

Not all properties can obtain the certificate of occupancy, as it is necessary that the property is deeded as a house, as well as comply with all of the habitability criteria required in the decree. This means that an office rebuilt into a house, even if it meets these requirements, if it has not obtained a change of use, cannot get the certification. This is a municipal license and therefore in the event of a ground floor office converted into a dwelling, if the municipality has forbidden homes in the ground floor, those spaces will not qualify for the ballot.

An example of invalidity of a contract for the sale of a property due to the absence of the certificate of occupancy, will help us to better understand the value given to this document at the time of the transaction: If a client is interested in the purchase of an apartment, and the owner is pending the approval of the certificate of occupancy and the buyer signs the letter of intent, leaving some money on account. In this particular case it is an old office space recently renovated to suit as a house, but given its features, the architect who reshapes it has not been able to make the change of use, as the property does not comply with the minimum size municipal ordinances require. The buyer can obtain the annulment of the letter of intent and the money left on account, because legally it is considered that there has been error on the object, since the property is not a house or flat, as requested by the buyer, but in terms of a license is still an office space. Even though it has been remodeled adapting it for housing needs, the property does not meet the regulatory and legal requirements to qualify as such. (Legally, it would be referred as a crippling mistake of consent, which would determine the nullity of the contract signed).

In order to avoid problems it is always better, and specially before depositing any sum of money on account, to ask if the property has an updated certificate of occupancy.
The attached document is the model of certificate of occupancy in force today in Catalonia.

Posted by Ines Llanas

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Category: General

Comments (2)


  1. What I would like to know is how exactly does a hotel or bed & breakfast calculate its profit margin in regard to its occupancy rates. I would also appreciate any links to websites concerning this kind of info.Thanx.

  2. Buildings not having occupancy certificate or having deviations beyond legally allowed limits are illegal, not marketable, and not free of charges:

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