Good news for British property buyers as bureaucratic obstacle removed
Britons buying typical homes in a Spanish military area no longer need to worry about disruptive delays, thanks to the scrapping of a law introduced over 40 years ago.
On 2nd July 2021 Spain’s Ministry of Defence removed the requirement for non-EU citizens to obtain special permission when purchasing a home in one of the country’s strategic defence (or military) zones. This is welcome news for British buyers, who lost their immunity to the now defunct rule when the Brexit transition period ended on 31st December 2020.
During the first half of 2021, a number of unsuspecting Brits were caught out by the sudden requirement to obtain a military permit, not to mention the extra time and paperwork it involved. Some had to increase their deposit in order to reassure vendors. For others it added complications to a mortgage application, making it harder to get offers accepted. Fortunately, these risks, along with the hassle of the permit application process, have disappeared with the law change.
Decision welcomed by buyers, agents and solicitors alike
Besides buyers, the decision has been welcomed by Spanish property agents and developers, especially in the Alicante and Murcia regions. Special credit is being given to the Alicante Association of Promoters (Provia) for spearheading a successful campaign and putting appropriate pressure on the Ministry of Defence to make the amendment. The General Directorate of Tourism and Alicante Chamber of Commerce added their support to the cause.
Despite being introduced in 1978 during the Franco regime, awareness of military zoning almost disappeared when Spain joined the EU in 1986. Its Membership meant that EU nationals, which included Brits and comprised almost the entirety of the country’s foreign property market, became exempt from needing to apply for permits. Of course, Brexit took away this exemption from UK citizens – if only for a short while.
Fortunately, it’s not the norm for properties along the Spanish Costas to be within restricted areas. Historically, requirements for permits have been most common in areas where strong demand from foreign house-hunters overlaps with local military zones. Examples include parts of the Balearic and Canary Islands, southern Alicante and Murcia, notably around Cartagena, as well as stretches of Spain’s French and Portuguese borders and the Strait of Gibraltar.
A cautionary note
Britons should note that the law change is not a carte blanche to buy anywhere within a strategic defence zone. A permit is no longer required for a property on land that is classified as urbanised (developed), such as within a community, resort or even village, or land that has been approved as part of a partial plan. But non-EU buyers still need a permit for a property on military land that is classified as rural, ie isn’t part of an urban plan.
We’re here to help
Concerns about the status of a property and whether it is located within a military zone can be established quickly by Sun Lawyers. We can also carry out all the necessary checks to reassure clients when they do not require a permit, as well as advise and assist those that do need one. If you have any concerns or are unsure what the change means to you please email us and we can help you.