• Joana Wheeler

Convert shops and other service spaces into homes - what you need to do!

Due to the cost and scarcity of housing, it can be enticing to alter a property's appearance, although doing so can be difficult, let us explain;


More and more people are considering the possibility of converting properties related to commerce and services (such as workshops, shops, warehouses, among others) into housing as a result of recent increases in real estate prices and a lack of housing supply, particularly in the city centers.


However, the decision-making process for the current or potential owners of the property must take into account the costs and risks associated with the change in the distribution of the property.


Through minor renovations and adaptations, it may be possible to convert real estate and portions destined for commerce and services into homes intended for habitation. As a result, there may be several advertisements for spaces for sale on the market with the description "house with affectation to trade." There are numerous instances of houses that have served as examples and motivated individuals with an interest in doing this.


However, as explained by the experts, there will need to be a procedure to amend its housing permit before a property may be utilized lawfully for housing purposes, whether for own residence, long-term rental, or local housing.


The housing license is a document issued by the municipality where the building is located that attests that a specific property complies with all applicable laws and regulations in order to serve its intended purpose and that it does so in accordance with the approved architectural project that established the uses and uses that are permitted at the time of construction.

A property can therefore be used for residential or non-residential purposes, and in the latter case it may be used for trade, storage, parking, etc.


What you need to do to change a building usage


It will be necessary to obtain a new authorization for use in order to change the allocation of a property in cases where no works have been completed or after completing works exempt from licensing or prior communication. This will allow for the verification of the intended use's compliance with the legal and regulatory standards that define the permitted uses, as well as the suitability of the building or fraction for the intended use.


To accomplish this, a request for a change in the type of use of the building or portion must be made in writing to the City Council and include a number of specific instructions, such as extracts from planning documents, location plans, a description of the proposed change and its justification, a copy of the license permit or authorization of the previous use, as well as other components of an architectural and registral nature.


It should also be highlighted that, in the event of stores integrated into buildings, a unanimous decision at the General Assembly of Condominiums will be required to decide the revision of the constitutive title of horizontal property. This title cannot be changed without the consent of all the other property owners, either by public deed or by a private instrument that has been authenticated.


Last but not least, it should be remembered that the City Council, which will direct the process, has a sizable margin of discretion in its decision-making because it will take into consideration the provisions of the Municipal Master Plan, which is the fundamental legal instrument in the management of the municipal territory and defines the strategic framework of territorial development of the municipality.

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