As is the case in most countries, Spanish law regulates additions and modifications to façades, protecting the rights of owners and neighbours. As a result, you cannot simply open up a window or add a balcony to your façade without consulting the regulations first. Likewise, your neighbour must also bear them in mind when carrying out work that affects light and views.
In this blog post, we look at your rights regarding lights and views as a property owner and a neighbour.
A little legal background
Before we examine the regulations themselves, it’s worth explaining how the law views the relationship between neighbours. The property that wishes to make changes to the façade is called the dominant property (dominante in Spanish). The neighbouring property, with the potential to be affected by the changes, is known as the serving property (sirviente in Spanish).
Regulations for adding lights and features affecting views focus on the type of wall and distance between the two properties. In many cases, what you or your neighbour are allowed to do is based on whether the wall is separate from your property or shared by it (known as a party wall (muro contiguo in Spanish).
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Rights to add light
The owner’s right to open up a wall to bring more light into his home depends on the type of wall between the two properties.
If it’s a non-party wall (i.e. is not joined to the neighbour’s property), the owner may open openings in the wall to obtain more light in the house. The neighbour has no right to oppose this action.
However, the neighbour does have the right to close the hole if the wall becomes a party wall unless:
- A public road separates the two properties.
- The owner and neighbour have a prior agreement about the openings in the wall.
- At least 20 years have passed since the owner opened up the façade.
Article 580 of the Spanish Civil Code clearly states that no owner may open a window or hole in a party wall without the consent of the neighbours sharing it.
Regulations for the openings
The openings made in the façade to allow more light into the property must meet the following requirements:
- The hole may not be more than 30cm².
- It must be covered by an iron grille (rejas in Spanish) or wire mesh.
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Rights affecting views
Under Spanish law, an owner may add windows or balconies to a façade even if they affect the views from neighbouring properties. However, the owner must comply with legal regulations, as follows.
- The window or balcony must be on a non-party wall.
- If the view is direct (i.e. the window or balcony overlooks the neighbouring property in a straight line), there must be a minimum distance of 2m between the owner’s wall and the neighbouring property.
- If the view is not direct (i.e. you have to turn your head to see the neighbouring property), the minimum distance is 60cm.
If the wall is a party wall, the owner must obtain prior consent from the neighbours before adding the window or balcony.
Use of translucent material
The regulations above refer to openings and windows that allow direct light into a property. However, if the owner wishes to create a hole or window using translucent material such as frosted glass, the regulations are different. This is because Spanish law regards the apertures as walls rather than windows or openings.
Openings or windows built with translucent material are permitted on non-party walls with no restrictions. There are also no limitations on minimum distances. However, the material used must be resistant and solid and not allow a clear view of neighbouring properties.
Get professional advice on your rights
As you might expect, the rights to add light and windows to a façade are often the cause of conflict among neighbours. If you wish to make an opening in your façade, make sure you follow the pertinent regulations before you start the work.
Or, if you have a neighbour who has made an opening that directly affects your property, get in touch with our legal team. They’ll be only too happy to offer the right advice for your situation.
10 thoughts on “Your Rights to Lights and Views From and Onto Your Property”
Hi I have a neighbour that has concreted up to our party wall about 15 cubic metres of concrete and I fear the wall will collapse on to my property is this legal as they have not consulted me
I would need to know what he has built and how, could you please email me privately and send some pics?
Dear Maria Luisa,
There is an agricultural land next to my property that is for sale, the current owner selling the land has told me that there is a family wishing to purchase the land to install Polly tunnels of 3.5 meters high ( we would have to share the same entrance to my property and their business).
I’ve been told by the Ayuntamiento that they can’t build anything closer than 25 meters from my wall and the land they are wishing to buy. How does the Right of view law work in this case? I current have mountain views that would be blocked by these Polly tunnels.
Can they build them even though these tunnels would block my current views?
To answer your question, I must know the urban parameters of the land, which are defined in the Urban Development Standards of the General Urban Development Plan. These parameters depend on the municipality and in which zone or planning area the plot is located.
We could assist you further on this if you needed. Where is the property located?
I have bought a house in Frigiliana and want to add more light into the house by adding windows to the wall. The wall borders our neighbor’s garden (their garden starts at the bottom of our wall, our wall is 4.5 meters). If I use translucent material (frosted glass) for the windows, am I allowed to add windows even though the wall is a party wall?
I have read your article, and concluded that the wall is a non-party wall. As the wall separates their garden and my house. Can you confirm this? Or how can I know for sure?
Thanks a lot in advance.
To detect a party wall you should talk to the architect or the developer of the property, who will give you all the information about the cadastral value of the property and will inform you if it has party walls.
Hola Maria, I’ve just recently bought a property in Tenerife, I have a party wall in my front garden the neighbors have 2 intrusive windows that face in my garden. I contacted a solicitor living in tenerife on just answer. He replied “Let me explain, more than 20 years have passed since the right to view was created, you cannot cover the windows or place a wall in front of them. Although it is true, of origin, they should never have existed, but the right has been acquired by prescription”.
My question to you Is, what is the minimum distance from the party wall, where I could put a tall fence up surely If it is one or two feet away, they can’t say anything it’s my property and garden? Or if I was to get a big bush delivered how close can I put them to the party wall? Appreciated for reading
To know for sure the minimum distance and the rest of the parameters you must go to the municipal technical services and make a consultation. There they will explain both the measures that must be complied with and the procedure for reporting your neighbor in case of non-compliance.
Selling my house had a window installed. The builder said was getting a minor licence but he didnt. It does not infringe on my neighbour. Is it possible to get the licence before my completion date looms.
How to legalize an already constructed work?
You will have to comply with all the requirements and provide the same documentation that is required of any person who wishes to legalize a construction site.
1. Go to the town hall and ask if your work can be legalized.
If the answer is no, ask what alternatives you have. If the answer is yes, continue with the following steps:
2.Provide the required documentation
In order that the city council can review that your work fulfills the required norm you will have to accompany a Technical Project Visado that will have to be written and signed by an Architect.
Since the work is already built, it is not really a project in itself, but it is necessary for the corresponding Legalization File to be opened.
3. Request the Legalization License to the town hall and pay the corresponding administrative fees.
4. Wait for the Town Hall review. The town hall will proceed to review the documentation you have provided and check that everything is in order before granting you the legalization license!
5. Pay the taxes and register your construction.
6. What documentation is needed to open the legalization file?
In order to open the file you will need to present the following documentation:
Book of the Building with your construction.
Certificate of antiquity.
Contracts related to the work.
Justification of the fulfillment of the regulations.
Descriptive, justifying and constructive memory in which the constructed and useful spaces of the structure are reflected.
Graphic material including plans and a photographic report.
Technical certificate of legalization.
7.What regulations must be complied with to legalize a work?
Town planning regulations.
Technical Building Code.
Regulation of Thermal Installations in Buildings.
Appropriate conditions of habitability. If it is a house
How much does it cost to legalize a work already done?
8. Related expenses:
They will have their fees for the drafting of the project or legalization file. The usual thing is that they charge you a percentage of the budget of material execution.
To obtain the legalization license you will have to pay both fees and a tax.
Although each city council establishes its own rates and bonuses, the habitual thing is that the urbanistic rate is around 2% of the budget of material execution.
Construction, Installations and Works Tax (Impuesto de Construcciones, Instalaciones y Obras)
Also known as ICIO, its tax rate is also established by each city council. In general, it is around 4% of the material execution budget.
In the event that the works that you have carried out do not comply with the corresponding town planning regulations, the town hall will not grant you the license until you make the appropriate improvements.
Notary and Registry
It is highly recommended that you update the property deeds with the current situation of the property and register them at the Land Registry.
Although the notary fees and registry fees are regulated by law, you can expect that in total they will add up to about 0.5% of the new value of the property.