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What Are the Rules When Using a Communal Terrace in My Apartment Building?

cat looking from terrace
Written by Daniella

If a residential building comes with a communal terrace or patio, it is important to be clear on who has the right to make use of it. The rules and regulations of a communal terrace should be known to you when signing the contract.

Do you live in a building with this type of shared space? If so, this article by ShBarcelona may be of special interest to you.

Whether you are looking to buy or rent an apartment in Barcelona, in today’s article we will shine a light on how communal spaces are regulated and how to know if your terrace is private or shared.

  • rental apartments in Barcelona


Differences between a communal and private terrace

First you must be aware that there are two types of terraces: a communal one and a private one. The only question that needs to be answered then, is who gets to use this space? Each type of terrace brings different responsabilities. Are you living in a penthouse with terrace? Then you will be even more interested in what we have to say.

terrace with pots and plants

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Check out our apartments with terrace in Barcelona

A communal terrace

Communal terraces are those terraces that may be used by all residents of a building, as long is this is indicated in the rules of the homeowners association. In these rules the Board of the homeowners association must define the timetable for the use of, and the activities that are allowed on the terrace.

A communal terrace for private use

Sometimes all the floors with apartments have access to the same terrace. Other times, for example in the case of two rooftop apartments sharing the same staircase to the roof, the residents of these two apartments have the key to a roof terrace. 

If your apartment enjoys a private terrace, then you are in luck. You can fully profit from this space in the building, because you are the only one who has access to it.

Anyway, even if you are living in a penthouse with private access to a terrace, you must always have approval of the homeowners association to use it. 

📌 Communal terraces for private use are specified in the contract, whether you are renting or buying.

How to know if a terrace is private or communal?

If you are still reading this article, you are probably  planning to rent an apartment with a terrace in Barcelona, or you are already living in the city and making good use of your terrace.

In both cases you should check the constitutive title of the community to find out if your terrace is for communal or private use. You will find more information on the main rules of residential buildings and its communal spaces in this article. 

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Rules and regulations on communal terraces

There are two different rules for regulating the use of communal spaces within a building. There is the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal on the one hand, and article 394 of the Civil Code on the other.

What does the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal say?

Article 7.1:

The owner of each apartment or property is allowed to modify its building elements, installations or services, as long as it doesn’t affect the safety, general structure, external appearance or state of the building, and as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of other owners. The homeowners association must always be given prior notice. 

And what does the Civil Code say?

Article 394:

Every resident can make use of communal spaces, as long as they are used the way they were intended to be used and the community is not harmed in any way. Other residents may also not be prevented from using their right to use the communal space.

In other words, you are allowed to use the communal terrace for different activities, as long as no damage to the building is done, the community is notified in advance, and other residents can still use the terrace. 

The best thing you can do is check with your homeowners association what is allowed in communal areas like a terrace and what not

terrace with chairs, table and sea view

Photo via Freepick

Related article: Latest Modifications in Urban Leasing Act (LAU) 

FAQ’s on communal terraces

We will now discuss some of the most pressing questions about communal terraces, whether it concerns a private one, or one for the entire building.

Can I put a fence around my private communal terrace?

The Ley de la Propiedad Horizontal states that:

The owner of every apartment or property is allowed to change building elements… but prior notice must be given of the works to whoever is representing the community.

You should always discuss with your Board on whether a fence or other element is allowed, as it may have an impact on the building.

Can I dry my laundry on a communal terrace?

You see many people in Barcelona hanging their clothes out on the terrace to dry them in the sun. There are no legal restrictions, but you should always check the constitutive title of the community on whether it is allowed on the terrace.

If you are renting an apartment without any space to dry your clothes, you can always ask the owner if you can have access to the roof to hang your laundry there.

laundry on line

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Can I have a party on a communal terrace?

If you have acces to a terrace, you are allowed to have a gathering there. Just be aware of the following:

  1. There are community statutes in which these types of events are clearly described, but you can also ask the president of the Board.
  2. Municipal regulations indicate the hours and noise level to avoid problems.

If I don’t use the communal terrace, should I still contribute to payment of repairs and maintenance?

The whole building is responsible for the costs of a communal terrace, even if it is for private use. So not only the tenant, but everyone pays his or her share for maintenance of an apartment with terrace for private use. 

There is, however, one exception to the rule: If one can prove that a certain resident is responsible for damaging a terrace by misusing or not taking properly care of it.

To end this article, there are several other rules for communal terraces, and you should check the constitutive title of the community what these are, so you know exactly what is and is not allowed on the terrace. 

Last but not least, always rely on a professional real estate agency when signing a contract, and in this case it doesn’t matter whether you are buying or renting. ShBarcelona is a trustworthy partner that looks at every little detail of a contract. How you may enjoy a communal terrace will be clear to you from day one of the contract.

Related article: Rental Agreement Template

Does your apartment have a shared terrace?
Have you had any problems with other residents over the terrace?

Share your experience in the comment section below!


About the author


Daniella enjoys everything the city of Barcelona has to offer. She writes, translates and loves discovering Catalonia and its beautiful nature.

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