BREXIT UPDATE for UK Nationals buying Property in Tenerife after January 2021 – Pitfalls and procedure when buying non-urban land.
Last updated: 18th February 2021
Brits looking to purchase property or land in Tenerife that is classed as ‘non-urban’ or ‘rustic’ may now have additional hoops to jump through since 1st January 2021 due to an old Spanish law that has remained in force since the days of the ‘Franco’ regime.
The law in question (Royal Decree 689/1978) introduced restrictions on foreigners buying up land in zones that were considered of strategic military importance, whereby the Ministry of Defence may review the proposed purchase and request a criminal records certificate from the proposed foreign buyer.
This law covers all Spanish territory islands, including Tenerife. The European Union treaty essentially granted a ‘freedom of movement’ exemption to this restriction for all EU nationals. However, as the UK has now left the EU, the exemption currently no longer applies to UK Nationals.
Several politicians are now lobbying the government to urgently lift this restriction for UK nationals, given that in some areas of Spain, Brits account for up to 80% of ‘non-urban’ and ‘rustic’ land purchases. However, at the time of writing, the restriction still applies.
So what does this mean for Brits looking to purchase property in Tenerife? Firstly, one needs to establish whether the property or land in question is designated as ‘non-urban’ or ‘rustic’. This is something that any reputable estate agent marketing the property should be able to immediately answer, failing which a lawyer or gestor can review the property title documentation and advise further.
In general terms, the rule affects property and land situated ‘out of town’, such as finca farmhouses or undeveloped plots of land. It does not affect apartments, villas or houses in a built-up urban setting, which were invariably cleared and approved at the time of their construction.
So what are the requirements if a particular property or land does fall within the restricted category? An application must be filed with the Ministry of Defence (SEE LINK BELOW) and must be accompanied by a Criminal Records Certificate obtained in the country of primary residence of the UK National (in most cases, a UK certificate issued by the DBS). For information on how to obtain this certificate, click HERE.
Once obtained, the original DBS certificate then needs to be certified/stamped by any UK solicitor and then submitted to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for an official apostille for international use. The UK apostille application can be made online HERE, which includes a DHL delivery service option back to Tenerife directly.
The document must then also be officially translated into Spanish (see HERE for a list of official Translators – scroll down to TENERIFE).
For plots of land of up to 2000 square metres, the Ministry of Defence say that applications will take up to 1 month to process. However, for larger plots of land, applications are likely to take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Delays are also likely to grow due to Covid and as more Brits buying rustic property get caught up in the queue.
Hence, applications should be submitted as far in advance as possible, so as not to risk a purchase falling through. Any property purchase contract should also be worded to cover any such delays and be cancellable/refundable in the unlikely event that the Ministry of Defence refuses the application for any reason.
The Application Form can be downloaded here: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE APPLICATION FORM
A Checklist of how to complete the form and what to include with the application can be found here: CHECKLIST OF REQUIREMENTS
Completed Applications together with the Apostilled and Translated DBS Certificate should then be sent to:
EXCMO. SR. GENERAL JEFE DE LA 5ª SUIGE-CANARIAS
AVDA 25 DE JULIO Nº1
38004-SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE
S/C DE TENERIFE