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What is a Cedula, and why do I need one ?

- Updated: 30/10/2009
What is a Cedula, and why do I need one ?

A Cédula de Habitabilidad (Spanish term for a Certificate of Occupancy) is a certificate required by Spanish law in order to try and regulate conditions relating to Health and safety in any building to be used for housing. You require this certificate in order to be able to contract water, electricity and gas supplies (Once you have come off a temporary / builders supply) and should be renewed every 15 Years.

All buildings intended to be used for housing must have a Certificate of Occupancy. This ensures that they meet the minimum requirements needed for a building to be habitable (new buildings, renovated buildings etc.)

You will need a Cedula for the following reasons:

  • Letting or selling a property (for accommodation)
  • New build properties
  • Renovated buildings
  • To contract vital services (water, gas and electricity)
  • In some cases, to obtain a mortgage
  • In some autonomous regions in Spain the Certificate of Occupancy has been substituted by a Municipal Urban Occupancy Licence. It has the same requirements as the certificate. To apply for a licence or certificate you need to fill in a form and attach various documents.

    If you are in the process of buying property then ensure that your Lawyer asks for a copy of this document. If you are building or renovating a property your architect will organise this for you. If you are living in a property at the moment that does not have a cedula then you can enquire about this by contacting the technical department at your local town hall.

Comment on this Article

Dear Heather, It appears that you've got mixed up with a real load of monkeys. You need a good architect and/or solicitor to check out the property papers and the legal situation. There will be a cost for these, but it may be that they can recover something of what you've invested from others and get the house legalised. Whatever, you need to get good, honest, professionally competent advisers. Contact me through It's not practical for us to do it, but we know people who can.
Campbell D Ferguson, Frics, Survey Spain - Tue 2th Jul 2013
We had the property built on rural land but the builder and architect without our permission or knowledge went ahead and built the property we wanted with the wrong plans submitted, they then left us high and dry and went out of business. We did not find out about the problem till we got another builder to complete the build, the shell plus was already done. The second builder said he had got a cedula and had electricity and water put on. We moved in but 3 years on we're threatened with the water and electricity being cut off. We went to a solicitor who said he could sort it all out within weeks. After a year he wanted some money and wee paid half the bill, after two years he said it was all done and we settled the bill, he said the paperwork was just waiting for one document from the town hall to arrive. Eighteen months later it still has not arrived and now he says its the occupation certificate and we need to pay him approx 5000e for this document. We have already paid 89000e.
Heather Meston - Mon 1st Jul 2013
Yes, there is a cost and depending upon where you are in the process it could be considerable. Combination of professional fees and charges from Town Hall. You need to speak to a reliable architect or solicitor to advise you what you need, what you've got and how to achieve full legality. Sorry that I don't have such a contact in your town. Best to get recommendations from people who have been there for some time. Unless your Spanish is good, make sure the professional can speak English.

The Cedula confirms compliance with Building & Planning Regulations. The building side is dealt with by the ‘Fin de Obras’ certificate issued by architects & stamped by his Colegio, and the equivalent of the UK Building Regulation approval. That, with Boletins confirming correct installation of electrics & plumbing, is sent to the local Ayuntamiento. There the planning dept studies the compliance with planning regulations, dictated by the PGOU (General town plan). This plan MUST be the one approved by the appropriate Comunidad authority, as its non-compliance with those that’s led to so much of the planning and threatened demolition problems throughout the area. Town Hall’s created their own plans & gave authority based on those, which authority has then been revoked by the Junta once aware of it, sometimes years after people have occupied their illegal house. The Town Hall, solicitors, architects, sellers of land, etc, will or professionally should have known that the property did not have the full permission, but encouraged the development or sale to go ahead with short-term gain in mind. Similar happened decades ago & eventually retrospective permission was given, perhaps with a small fine, and that has encouraged people to do the same more recently. However, now the law has been maintained and some of the illegal properties are not being given permission & are under demolition orders, whilst others are suffering large fines to remove any profit from the development. However, those that profited are not always around & other subsequent owners have to pay, which may not seem right, but what else can the authorities do? Those who are suffering must sue their professional advisers & the town hall for any losses as they have a duty of care to their clients. Only with an LPO complying with ALL the above, can an owner securely occupy their property. If it hasn’t an LPO or Cedula, the current owner has problems and if you buy the property these problems become yours.

Is there a cost involved in obtaining a certificate of occupation? We live in the crevillente region?
Heather Meston - Fri 21st Jun 2013