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Housing license: in which situations is it necessary?

Any house that is intended to be inhabited needs to have a housing permit (also sometimes called an in habitability permit) issued by the City Council of the location of the property. Any property that has this license means that it has been inspected and that it has habitability conditions that correspond to several demanding parameters. Find out in which situations you need this document.

What is a housing permit?

The housing license consists of a document that proves that a certain property is habitable because it meets all the legal conditions required to do so. This license is of a municipal nature, so without an inspection by the City Council, it is impossible to obtain it.

This document thus determines that the property can be used, whether for residential or non-residential purposes (such as commerce, services, or industry).

What distinguishes it from a license to use?

Housing licenses and user licenses have different purposes. While the first attests to the habitability of the property, the second defines the type of use allowed, whether for housing or non-housing purposes (commerce, services, or industry).

A license to use buildings or autonomous fractions is also issued by the respective municipality where the property is located, and the request can be made in person, at the City Council services, or online, a feature that is already available in some municipalities. 

In what situations is a license required?

If you are going to buy a house, the housing permit is one of the essential documents, and without it, you will not even be able to apply for a home loan or make the deed of purchase and sale.

And in addition to the essential documents to deliver to the bank, the most important thing must not be forgotten: try to lower the cost of home loans as much as possible by requesting proposals from several banks to check which one offers you the best conditions.

In addition, you will also need this license if you are going to sell your house, namely when you have to sign the Promise of Purchase and Sale and, later, on the day the deed is carried out.

Another situation in which it is necessary to hold this license concerns the lease. Under the New Urban Lease Scheme (NRAU), it is necessary for the owners to present the housing license within the scope of the conclusion of the lease.

For the process of constituting a horizontal property, that is, the division of a building into different fractions, you will also need a housing permit.

Necessary conditions for habitability

The habitability conditions of a house are defined by law – namely in the General Regulations for Urban Buildings – and it can be said that they fundamentally affect four specific areas: electricity, gas, water, and sanitation schedule 1 tax.

Only after verifying the conditions of residence in these four areas through an inspection can a housing permit be issued.

But there is one exception:

Properties whose construction date is prior to 1951 do not need to have a housing permit, as Decree-Law No. in that same year.

Any property that still needs this type of licensing must also comply with the respective architectural project. If changes have been made to this project in the meantime (eg a swimming pool or an annex in the backyard), then these changes must be legalized.

How to apply for a housing permit?

If you are the owner of a house without a license or if you are building a house from scratch, you will have to request this document from the town hall services of the City Council and fill out an application to that effect. Each municipality has its own way of issuing this document and practices its prices.

Note that if you are going to buy a house that is still under construction, the builder in question will handle this license while the works are still being completed.

If a house has this document, it is because it is fit to be inhabited. Since the habitability license is mandatory by law, if you (suppose) inherit a house that does not have this license, it is necessary to apply for it, so that everything stays within the legal procedures.

Is the housing permit valid?

The license does not necessarily have a stipulated validity, and it is only necessary to renew it in the event of a change in the structure of the building. This restructuring can be either a change in the initial projects of the work or new construction.

If you then need to carry out works, when you finish them, you will have to apply for a new permit. This is so that all changes are duly legalized.

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