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What's really happening in the real estate world in Spain? The EOS Team are going to be keeping you up to date with everything that's happening from a market perspective.

British expats in Spain face bulldozers once again
09 February 2012 @ 16:48

AUAN, 9th February 2012

British expatriates in Albox, a small provincial town in Andalucía, Spain, faced an anxious New Year in 2010 after police served notice that their homes were to be bulldozed after their construction was declared illegal.

Having overturned the demolition orders on the basis that they had not been informed of the proceedings, the couples vowed to fight on. Since then they have engaged in a protracted and expensive court battle to try and defend their homes.

Yesterday, one couple received the devastating news that the courts have again decided that they must face the bulldozers. Their home, in which they have invested their life savings, was constructed with planning permission from the local council in 2002 and possesses all of its necessary paperwork.

Lawyers acting for the regional government (the Junta de Andalucía) successfully argued that the property risked provoking an urban nucleus. The revocation of the building licence was upheld and the retired couple were ordered to pay costs. They are now faced with the prospect of an expensive appeal.

A spokesperson for AUAN, a pressure group made up of mostly British homeowners, responded to this latest ruling saying “Welcome to the surreal world of planning in Andalucía. The regional government claims that its much publicised Decree will grant recognition to illegal buildings in Andalucía but this couple, who have a building license, face demolition”.

The regional government argues that the property runs the risk of creating an urban nucleus. Which urban nucleus are they referring to? Promoters swamped this area with urban settlements and sold houses to unsuspecting Brits whilst the administration fiddled about with its legislation and comprehensively failed to enforce it.”

“Has the Junta de Andalucía learned nothing? Demolitions damage the beleaguered property market and the international reputation of Spain. The response of the regional government to this planning disaster is more tinkering with the laws, creating, in our view, even more confusion, complexity and traps for an unwary purchaser to fall into. Oh, and by the way” the spokesperson concluded “if you want to purchase a house in Andalucía, the Property Register, currently gives this house a clean bill of health”.

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Anne said:
10 February 2012 @ 12:17

This is yet another reason to keep the message loud and clear of the realities to real estate abuse in Spain and the injustice that is being heaped upon innocent purchasers. This is theft of possessions by the back door and no-one is safe in this scenario where retrospective action can be employed without any realistic compensation structure in place. Innocent purchasers should not be made the scapegoats or used as pawns in local/regional disputes of this kind.
It's time for good professionals and their representative professional organisations within the real estate industry to unite against this unjust and uncivilised behaviour and become far more pro-active for justice to prevail. Where are you all? What are you doing about this? Any agent worth their salt should be shouting from the rooftops about this and demonstrating their commitment to protect their future client base. Just bemoaning sadly gets you no-where. Only when you stand up to this uncivilised behaviour will Spain ever recover.
This requires courage but at the end of the day these major abuses are a cancer eating away at the real estate industry in Spain and it needs eradicating.

b j deller said:
11 February 2012 @ 13:41

My wife and I are not in this poition but I have given thought to what I would do if we were. I would decide who was the worst person in the corruption chain, buy a 12-bore shotgun, get my wife to advise the British Press of the date and time and then invade the "criminal's" home and evict his family under threat of being shot, thrwingf all te personalk possessions (but not furniture) into the street. The resulting publicity will do so much damage to Spain that they will be forced by EU public opinion to recompense IN FULL all those who have been cheated (legally?) as the laws are not being applied (natural justice) by the authorities in Spain. What a disgrace.
OK, I am 74 and probably have not so long to live now, although I am fit, but this could be my last good deed for the honest masses. The criminals are getting away with their crimes because the Spanish government is not doing enough and the recent report of a Spanish Govt. Minister publicly blaming the expat buyers is the pits.

Adam Pentland said:
11 February 2012 @ 13:57

My wife and I decided after an extensive look at counties on three continents to spend a year in Spain looking for a property for our retirement. The decision was based on a number of factors, not least of which was the wish to buy property in a legally secure environment. The result of this latest threat is simple - there is no way, even after a year learning the language and studying the property rules that we would now consider property purchase here.

The Junta has achieved its aim we are two less Brits for then to worry about. Rental is a financially viable alternative but it carries with it the liability of landlords shy to spend money on their property, particularly in these cash strapped and bulldozer friendly times.

Our solution is simple, we're off to Africa. I won't mention which country because every person who joins the rush makes property more expensive there. The country may not have a totally democratic government but how big a risk is that compared to facing the bulldozers!

Campbell D Ferguson said:
11 February 2012 @ 14:28

I don't know the details of these cases, but presumably the permissions were granted by the Ayuntamiento in contravention to the PGOU approved by the Junta de Andalucía. In which case the Junta has a duty to act against the illegal building, using the courts as its enforcer. 'Slow law is no law' and that's the problem. If they had acted instantly the construction was evident it would have saved many tears and financial loss.
However, the real culprits are the lawyers and others who advised the purchasers. Simple planning investigations would have shown that the property did not comply with the approved town plan. They should then have told the buyers that they proceeded at their own risk and, if a mortgage is involved, should also have reported the same to the bank. Sue the lawyers for breaching their duty of care. Somebody has to take a case, the progress of which could concentrate a good few minds. There are good lawyers and judges out there who are deeply ashamed at the inaction and callousness of others in their professions. And if you didn't use a lawyer? Well, you saved then, but now the cost is yours!

John said:
11 February 2012 @ 15:05

Hi. We have a little rural cave (green zone) but were told, right from start, that even with all required documents -- escritura, registry office, certificate of habitation, etc -- the medio ambiente (environment agency) still had power of veto, which I understand is same in England & Wales (SSSI for example). So we asked when did the MA exercise this power? It seems most cases are disgruntled neighbours (the famous denuncia). So we went to closest neighbours (which means 10k or so here) and asked if they had objections? Not only did they receive us with a smile but have since supported us e.g. dragging cars out with tractors. When I see him, the village mayor always shakes my hand, and his policia municipal often drives by with a smile. This doesn't mean the bulldozers won't come in one day but isn't this a case of us living in their country/culture so shouldn't we play by their rules? No-one forced us to buy/live here.

scott said:
11 February 2012 @ 16:47

the local councils see buildins being built they are certainly to blame the local councils are to blame by letting houses being built without planning permission, they must see it being built then the notary know that something is wrong !!

glenise kelly said:
11 February 2012 @ 16:52

How many more people are going to lose there homes and life savings because of corrupt officials. Why are eu officials not doing anything about this dreadfull state of affairs. I would never ever buy in spain.

VJ said:
11 February 2012 @ 17:03

I am naturalised British. Have an apartment in Spain & experienced so much exlpoitation. What about 'human right' angle. Criminals in Britain are exploiting it, so why not legitimate property owner in Spain use this route?

Haze said:
11 February 2012 @ 18:49

Yet next to our house another property is being built, with planning permission, that breaks nearly every planning regulation in the book. It's too big for the plot, it ignores the 5m rule (parts of the pool are only 1m away from another neighbour), the boundary walls are too high and the septic tank is too close to the boundary.

Repeated appeals to the Ayntamiento fall on deaf ears and none of us can afford to take this to court.

I rue the day we bought over here and would certainly not recommend that anyone else does so. The minute we can get out, we're going. This is a corrupt and tedious country when one needs to challenge any authority.

David said:
11 February 2012 @ 20:40

Spain is up the creek without a paddle and a lot of it is its own doing!! The councils, banks etc are greedy and corrupt and it has come back to bite them in the a**e. Had a property in Spain which was given back to the bank. Would not invest in Spain ever again, as someone has mentioned Africa is a much better bet (Gambia)

Samuel Butchart said:
11 February 2012 @ 20:44

Thanks for this I now will buy anywhere but spain.

Anne said:
11 February 2012 @ 20:46

Sadly,not enough people are aware that it is not only the local building licence needed, but the regional one as well. Sounds to me like only the local consent was given. I know of many who started to build with their local consent in hand, only to discover ( some too late - receiving either fines or demolition) that it really means nothing until the regional consent has approved the locals certificate. There is nothing wrong or devious about it - just do your homework first!

Graham said:
12 February 2012 @ 05:20

I am still pondering buying a property in Spain but at the very moment I finally decide that I will, I read yet another tale of woe of more British Expats caught out by Spanish planning madness. Albox keeps cropping up, it must be a ghost town now full of worthless luxuary villas. Then there was the land grab saga where peoples gardens were taken by local builders, I think that was near Vallencia (appologies if i am wrong on that). Add all that to the dramatic drop in property prices, loss of job opportunities and the GB Pound not getting as many Euro's as it once did and I wonder why I am still interested in living in Spain. I wonder why anyone would be interested in Spain? This is perhaps one area where the EU could be useful and demand that the effected residents be fully compensated by local and regional authorities who clearly screwed up. I wont be moving to Spain until This madness is fully resolved. I rely on EOS to keep me updated on this, keep up the good work.

Johnzx said:
12 February 2012 @ 06:02

A solution to this would be that everyone who works in a town hall, from the mayor downwards, and any lawyers and other professionals connect in anyway, should be financially liable if permission to build is given which, for whatever reason, later proves to be useless. That would concentrate the mind.

At present no one seems to be responsible when things go wrong.

Mike in Spain said:
12 February 2012 @ 12:15

Johnzx - That is a basis for the way things should be done yes, even in the UK, in fact in everything, the people signing the paper should be responsible... but there is just one problem and it is a big one, the people that need to pass this are the people who are making out of it... basically 'the lunatics are running the asylum' and while that is the case nothing or very little will change.

I can imagine the situation if it where actually the case... nothing would get done! lol

Eddie said:
12 February 2012 @ 13:01

We keep hearing in England about cases being referred to the European court of Human Rights. Surely this is a case where human rights are definetely being abused.

comotuquiers said:
12 February 2012 @ 18:52

It is beggars belief : Every ay I come across new comers from UK who are still buying resales at cheaper price but they still come with "No knowledge of the surrounding area, about rules of the communities where they move to, shops, any other amenities. These are the very basics one would agree.they sit on their patios and tell everyone who happen to be there how proud they are while drinking their minds out day in and day out, and go back as clever as ever :) With all the information readily available and if on is yes one is bothered to write to the Land Registry, I am sure they confirm details on the type of land it is an much more. I say "DO YOUR HOME WORK BEFORERRRR.

comotuquiers said:
12 February 2012 @ 19:20

How many countries will the disgruntled invade and use the same rich language to degrade those countries,their people,food,may be not the food as that has never been a problem for them but once things start to change and are not in their interest. They really are better off in their own home country that they left behind partially. Africa is still changing and all those dictators and corrupt government as they have been branded by the so called civil society of the West are still around so why would one go there? I was born & brought up in Africa and the Africans do not want to see the colonialist return or welcome such minded. This is true of Australia as the natives are very anti of them much to my surprise. When they can't have their ways anymore they get nasty, bad mouth and then take off and get what they can from others. paradises.

ANgel said:
13 February 2012 @ 09:23

If your construction is declared illegal in OUR contry, then you shut up and obey.

Angie said:
15 February 2012 @ 12:50

Not too sure which is your country ANgel - do you mean Spain? If so, a house that WAS legal can be declared illegal at any time?

Hazel Richards said:
15 February 2012 @ 18:13

I'm thinking that maybe comotuquieres is Spanish? It is impossible to research a property for the future - no-one can tell what will happen later. This is the main problem that many people (not just from the UK) have with the planning regulations in Spain.

As the article says, these houses were (and still are) shown as being legal. They were built 10 years ago when the current legislation was not in force. How could these people have even dreamt that 10 years after they bought, the Junta could declare them illegal and pull them down?

Given this fact (and many other bad stories we hear about Spain) it is hardly surprising that people do not want to live here any longer. Spain is dependent on it's property and holiday income from other countries so it would be a good idea if this was considered.

It is not only the incomers than benefit from living in Spain but also the Spanish, who benefit from the money that is brought into the country.

Kevin Johnson said:
16 February 2012 @ 17:52

Spain is its worst enemy.

The Spanish people do whatever they want & are not too keen on non Spanish people.

I lived there for four years and could never quite understand their mentality or reasoning.

Manxmonkey said:
18 February 2012 @ 19:29

I'm sad that anyone at all in this forum is not supportive of this poor couple who have been totally ripped off. Of course the lawyers are either incompetent and didn't know that a Regional Permission should have been in place or morally corrupt / racist and just thought, "Screw it, I'll take their money anyway but do a shoddy job and not warn them". In England any immigrants would be given a lot of help with interpreters and such and yes, the Law Society would look at any complaint that a Solicitor had not acted in the best interests of their client and have the power to make him pay them compensation - and that is a free service from the Law Society which is probably why sole practice insurance is now virtually unaffordable in the UK!! I think it's a pity that the people earning the money out of property; lawyers and agents don't wake up, put a grand each into a fighting fund and start kicking back at these decisions. Anything is possible to be over-turned and faced with a shortage of money in every town hall and government department they are going to hate looking down the barrel of a very loaded legal case gun. I was recently told that, "we really don't want to be seen burning tax payers money on legal cases, perhaps we can work something out" and that was in the UK! In Spain; France; Italy etc. there is one rule for locals and one for foreigners and that's simple fact. I had a place built in front of my sea front property in Spain totally illegally by the richest guy in town. I was never able to do anything about it and simply sold up and put it behind me. However with these cases of people's homes being not just blighted or slightly devalued but torn down it’s far more serious!!! Something needs to be done in the European Court of Human Rights. Some lawyers need to big up and offer to do it for nothing, the publicity for them would be priceless.

Steve Lee said:
19 February 2012 @ 09:39

I don't know if ANgel is still around. If he is he might like to ponder on where a lot of Spain's money is going to come from if the Country gets a reputation for ripping foreigners (who bring millions into the Country every year) off. Who is going to buy all the empty houses? Spanish people? I don't think so. Is the Country gets a bad reputation it will also cause potential holiday-makers to think again too. Prices for both holidays and Real estate are cheaper in other countries now and Spain cannot afford to simply tell foreign buyers to buzz off. Spain has to compete with Turkey, Eastern European countries, Morocco etc. Besides are we not all Europeans now? Isn't that what Spain joined the EU for?

Gill Brailey said:
26 March 2012 @ 14:57

Although I do not own property in Spain, I did think of it at one time. Like so many others I would now never dream of doing so. These people, many of whom just so happen to be British, have been betrayed by just about everyone they have come across, from the estate agents, the lawyers and the local planning officials. It is a situation that would not be tolerated in any other European country (as far as I know) and the fact these people have no real support (from this country) and have no-one to turn to is another scandal. Surely some legal eagle with a sense of compassion could make nominal inroads into this injustice without payment. I realise it is complicated but these people deserve some help and advice when they are on the brink of being ruined financially, and emotionally. I am stunned that no-one from our political class has stood up and condemned Spain for doing this. It is a system without rules, people are encouraged to buy in this country, but then they are the victims of daylight robbery.

doedoe said:
16 February 2013 @ 18:30

When are the Spanish authorities going to put right the illegal building fiddles that it has allowed since 2006. I completed on my property purchased with all the legal searches by lawyer, Agent & Notary in 2007. The following year our complex was said to be illegal.
2013 and still the local authority have not granted permission for the some of the work the builder failed to do to be completed. The Builder was paid by the purchasers for the utility meters to be installed & Habitation Certificate. All the legal teams the purchasers employed charged fees for the work to be done.
Who is responsible for this fraud, The Builder & local authority signed of the complex, paid the deposit they held back to the builder. Yet we have so far waited 6 years and still have no Habitation certificate have been granted because the authority will not allow the work to be completed which the builder failed to do.

doedoe said:
16 February 2013 @ 18:31

When are the Spanish authorities going to put right the illegal building fiddles that it has allowed since 2006. I completed on my property purchased with all the legal searches by lawyer, Agent & Notary in 2007. The following year our complex was said to be illegal.
2013 and still the local authority have not granted permission for the some of the work the builder failed to do to be completed. The Builder was paid by the purchasers for the utility meters to be installed & Habitation Certificate. All the legal teams the purchasers employed charged fees for the work to be done.
Who is responsible for this fraud, The Builder & local authority signed of the complex, paid the deposit they held back to the builder. Yet we have so far waited 6 years and still have no Habitation certificate have been granted because the authority will not allow the work to be completed which the builder failed to do.

mobile said:
27 December 2013 @ 11:42

If not for your writing this topic could be very convoluted and oblique.

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