A guide to the rules and regulations governing outdoor space in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria property written by Las Palmas property expert Laura Leyshon.
Many Canarians, born and bred in a place with a superb year-round climate, don’t value outside space in the same way as foreign buyers do. In fact, many think that outside space inside your home is a bit of a waste of space. While a British or Swedish buyer sees a big sun terrace, a local may just see an area that has to be cleaned and maintained.
After all, if you want to go outside, why not just go to the beach or an outdoor terrace?
While more locals now appreciate outdoor space (thanks to Covid lockdowns, etc) this discrepancy means that property with large outdoor spaces in Las Palmas is often good value. Local estate agents don’t appreciate it in the same way as foreign buyers and don’t value it accordingly.
Las Palmas property outdoor space for buyers…
I cannot stress enough how important it is for all buyers of Las Palmas property to fully understand their rights and obligations connected to any outdoor space. Do not try and buy a property with an outdoor terrace or roof access without getting good local advice.
You need to know the answers to the following questions before you buy a Las Palmas property with outdoor space…
- Who owns the outside space?
- Who has the rights to use the space? Does anyone else contest these rights?
- Who is responsible for the upkeep of the space?
- Who, if anyone, can change the rules governing the use of your outside space?
- Where are your rights are recorded (Communidad Statutes, Property deeds, division horizontal)?
- Are there any legal disputes affecting the space or open investigations by local authorities?
- Are any modifications you plan to make legal?
Types of urban outdoor space and usage rights in Las Palmas
This being Spain, the rules and regulations governing ownership and the use of outside space can be complex. There are local rules from the Town Hall, Canary Islands Government rules, and Spanish National rules, and it isn’t always clear which set of rules apply.
Note: The rules governing outdoor space and land use for rural properties are completely different.
Full ownership and exclusive use
The simplest form of outdoor space is a terrace, roof space or balcony that you own. This is recorded in the Nota Simple (the property deed document that describes your property and is stored at the Property Registry). The same applies to those rare properties with private gardens in Las Palmas city.
In some buildings, the maintenance of the frontage of your terrace or balcony is covered by the Communidad, the Community of Owners. For example, when the building has a distinctive look and rules that govern its appearance.
Exclusive use but not ownership
Another form of outdoor space is where your terrace or roof space is communal property but you have the sole right to use it (known as uso y disfrute exclusivo). This usage can be recorded in the Nota Simple, or in the statutes of the Communidad, or even in the Division Horizontal deed (a document that describes all the properties in a building, stored at the property registry).
In these cases the financial burden for maintenance, and for any damage caused to other properties (by a water leak, for example) should be defined in the Communidad statutes.
Note: The version of the Communidad Statues that is valid is the one registered with the Property Registry. If changes are made and not registered, they do not apply to new buyers.
Shared outdoor space
A third kind of outdoor space, common in smaller and older buildings, is a communal roof terrace or patio. The rules governing its use will be in the Communidad statutes if they exist (buildings with less than 4 properties don’t need one). In this case the roof can be shared equally by all or divided up into private areas for each owner.
In Las Palmas, you often get the roof terrace to yourself because most locals do not use them for anything other than storage (if the roof has trasteros) or hanging out washing.
Some buildings have an interior patio and one property owner often has the exclusive uso y disfrute of it. This entitles them to use the patio but not to roof it off and add to their property (although this has happened in some older buildings). These interior terraces tend to be dark but can be pleasant if decorated and used creatively. If you have access to an interior terrace in a larger building you will also build up a big collection of odd socks.
Note: In some areas of Las Palmas, use of the roof for anything other than essential maintenance is forbidden by Town Hall rules.
Some communidades also prevent use of the roof to keep things simple and prevent disputes between neighbours. Changes need a unanimous vote.
Making changes to terraces and roof spaces in Las Palmas
In general, the rules allow non-permanent structures on roof terraces and large outdoor spaces. These include wooden gazebos and even a Jacuzzi.
However, building codes affect what is visible from the street and your communidad may object to a large structure on a communal roof space even if you have uso y disfrute exclusivo.
You cannot just build an additional floor on a roof terrace without complying with building codes, getting permits from the Town Hall, and the approval of the communidad. However, you can legalise and refurbish existing structures in some cases. You will need help from a lawyer and an architect.
Outside space problems in Las Palmas
Disputes about outdoor space are one of the most common in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This is because the rules set by different authorities can conflict, and because access to outdoor spaces adds value to a property.
The most common disputes are the following…
- Disagreements between a property owner or owners and the building comminidad about access to outdoor space. For example, if the communidad wants to restrict access to the roof but one of the owners has the right to use it, or an owner prevents others from reaching the communal roof space.
- Disputes about maintenance of outdoor space. For example, some properties have the exclusive right to use a terrace but the communidad is still liable to maintain it.
- Attempts to change the status quo of outdoor space usage in a building.
The key to avoiding any of these problems is to check for any ongoing disputes before you buy, be sure of your rights when you buy, and to update all paperwork as soon as required. A lawyer can check documentation and help you with paperwork, and a good local estate agent can find out about any problem in a building.
For example, I recently had a buyer withdraw from the purchase of a penthouse apartment in Las Palmas because of a dispute about the rights to the top floor terrace. There was something slightly off about how the owner and their agent talked about the roof space and after some digging it emerged that there was a long-standing legal dispute about roof access between two of the owners in the building. After consulting with a lawyer, my buying client rightly walked away from the purchase because the dispute was in court and could have taken years to resolve.
The value of outdoor space in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Property valuers tend to value outside space for mortgage purposes at about 30%-50% of the value of a property (per square metre). Communal outdoor space where you own the exclusive uso y disfrute is valued at approx 30% while outdoor space that is wholly owned is valued at 50%.
Banks do not include communal roof spaces in their valuations for mortgage purposes although a quality market valuation by an estate agent includes a premium for access to a quality roof area.
Mortgage valuations do not take into account the desirability of your outdoor space, just the area.
Selling a Las Palmas property with outdoor space
The value of a terrace or roof space in Las Palmas is highly subjective and depends on factors such as size, shape, orientation, and privacy. It is therefore essential to use an experienced estate agent who can get the market valuation right and market it to the right kind of buyer.
You need a degree of patience because you may receive low offers from people who do not see the potential of the outdoor area.
If you are selling a property along the beachfront that includes outdoor space, please see this Guide to Valuing Las Canteras Property.
Any questions, just let me know…
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