Cave Dwelling Regulations

Andalusia is one of the pioneering autonomous communities in the regulation and recognition of this special form of habitat.

GRA Casa Cuevas Baza Guadix 400x250Since the 23rd of December, 2021, the new Boost for Sustainability of Andalusian Territory Law (LISTA) came into force and in February the draft regulation that develops said Law was published.

Although it is still the draft phase, it is worth highlighting the new regulation of cave houses, where there is a legal void.

The aim is to guarantee minimum conditions of habitability, safety and healthiness in these houses, as well as to promote their use as a tourist product.

Title IX of the new LISTA regulations, still in draft phase, regulates the cave houses as part of the Troglodyte habitat.

What does it consist of?

It is a form of traditional settlement characterized by the occupation of the land of a certain geographical area through caves intended in the most part for residential use.

The caves and the common elements of communication (roads, footpaths, streets, paths) and the evacuation of rainwater by natural or artificial elements form part of the area. The neighbourhoods of caves that have urban road access, with infrastructures for water supply, sanitation and electricity supply, and with a rainwater evacuation system will be considered urban land.

The execution of urban development actions:

This will be allowed in the neighbourhoods where these caves exist, improving the endowments and their surroundings, and the touristic use of this type of housing may be encouraged.

The caves must have holes open to the exterior that make up at least three percent of the interior surface of the cave, they must also have at least one chimney that is used both for smoke evacuation and for ventilation. 

In existing caves for residential use, rehabilitation and conservation works may be carried out with the aim of improving their safety and habitability conditions, as well as any others that are necessary to improve the urban and natural environment on which they are built.

Extension works may also be authorized in existing caves outside the cave, provided that the resulting building is one storey high and may not exceed fifty percent of the surface of the cave or one third of the length of the cave´s façade.

What is the conservation duty of the caves?

In plans for the conservation, rehabilitation and maintenance of the caves and the conservation of the outer layer of land where it is excavated, even though it is part of the free spaces of the neighbourhoods of caves, and the maintenance of the natural channels for the evacuation of rainwater. The Town Halls may alienate, prior disaffection, the public domain lands that are essential to allow compliance with the minimum conditions of safety, health and accessibility in the existing caves.

What happens when restoration is not possible due to collapse?

In this case, the legal situation of urban ruins will be declared and the filling of same and the necessary works will be ordered to guarantee the safety conditions in the adjoining properties.

What will be the status of the irregular ones?

A complementary regime will be established for irregular caves that are on the same level as irregular buildings in a legal ‘out of management’ situation and will require a minimum of services of water and sanitation, accessibility, a minimum surface of 30m2 and a guarantee of the evacuation of rainwater  from the upper area of the land, that they are protected from external humidity and that there is structural security.

The caves can be considered homes for tax and legal purposes. For years it has been possible to register them in the Land Registry and even add the heights that determine the exact situation on the vertical plane to the georeferenced coordinates of the vertices. 

Have into account that registration in the tourism activity registry in Andalusia in mandatory, if it is intended to be leased for tourism purposes.

(News/Feature: Legal/Velaco Lawyers)

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