Extortion tactics from builder

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31 Jan 2022 11:10 PM by JandSinSpain Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

We signed a contract for an off plan villa in Andalucia. We had the funds for the first two payments and half of the third. We checked on the availability of the mortgage before we left England. The reserve contract clearly states the land was urban but despite many attempts we could not get a mortgage because the property was illegal, rustic land.The builder let us move in and we continued to try and get a mortgage but no luck. The builder cut off water and electricity and refused to let us get connected properly. We have been living a life of hell and worry for almost 15 years and now the builder wants to sell our villa and kick us out. 

Despite telling our lawyer, in wtiting, a number of times that we wanted our money back and the builder taken to court for compensation, the lawyer did nothing.

Is there anything we can do.





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01 Feb 2022 10:24 AM by nigel188 Star rating in Estepona. 647 posts Send private message

Good Morning

Maria de Castro, Lawyer in Cadiz will advise you here.

Here is their website as well as email address

https://costaluzlawyers.es/our-team/

marialuisa@costaluzlawyers.es

 

Good Luck

Nigel

 



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01 Feb 2022 11:54 AM by Kavanagh Star rating in Oil Drum Lane Newcas.... 1225 posts Send private message

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Hello JandSin

You should file a complaint with the Spanish Bar Association, their purpose in life is to regulate the conduct of Spanish lawyers.



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01 Feb 2022 3:06 PM by baz1946 Star rating. 2304 posts Send private message

What a joke of a post.



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01 Feb 2022 8:12 PM by windtalker Star rating. 1883 posts Send private message

You should have a bank guarantee in place if it was a off plan project .. secondly the builder can't stop you getting connected to the mains electric / water / soil water ..the reason you can't get connected is that your property has no planning consent ..to get connected you need a Escututa / Fin de Obra and the only way you will get these if your property is completely legal... every time I come across someone that is considering a off plan purchase I always try and put them off due to the amount of builders that tend to go bankrupt during construction of the site .. these builders will show you the MUG that can't wait to part with your money  a nice glossy picture book of what you will get and how the site will look  when it's finally finished .. unfortunately the vast majority of building sites go into liquidation / Bankrupt before completing leaving the Bank to find a new buyer to finish the job .. hence the reason that you don't get what you have paid for.





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01 Feb 2022 9:29 PM by Kavanagh Star rating in Oil Drum Lane Newcas.... 1225 posts Send private message

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Hello Windy

I agree with what you say, some off-plan sales are a scam from the start, just looking for ‘’a Wooden Top’’ with a better picture book than the old BBC children’s afternoon program. Once the builder gets enough deposits he just does a runner and starts again somewhere else. Despite all the publicity there seems to be no shortage of new Wooden Tops.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTYziuCNPWU

However, the OPs case seems a little different if I am reading it correctly. Seems the OP has purchased an illegal property and moved in still owing the builder money that the OP hoped to raise by getting a mortgage. The first questions that springs to mind are ‘’how did the Ops lawyer allow this to happen and get this far?’’. Was the lawyer on a back-hander with the builder? Do lawyers have any legal responsibilities under Spanish law and the Spanish justice system? Are lawyers actually qualified or do they just have a nameplate they move around from time to time?

 


This message was last edited by Kavanagh on 2/2/2022.

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04 Feb 2022 9:56 AM by acer Star rating. 1493 posts Send private message

From his original post the OP seems confused, the advice from Nigel188 is good - seek help from Maria de Castro.  The local lawyer is clearly not doing his job - perhaps there's undisclosed factors?  It doesn't make sense.

JandSinSpain - you need to act decisively - get yourselves good legal representation.

In the circumstances you outline the builder will be unable to arrange the necessary permanent services (electricity and water supply etc) which is a pre-requisite to obtaining the Certificate of First Habitation aka Habitation Certificate which should render the building contract illegal so it is voidable at your option.

The time delay may be a factor?  The outline provided does not make much sense.  In theory a property cannot be occupied without a Habitation Certificate.  You quite clearly need urgent professional advice!!!



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04 Feb 2022 2:57 PM by mariedav Star rating in Ciudad Quesada. 1177 posts Send private message

Acer, the OP states they've been living there 15 years. It was quite common for illegal builds to have people living in with no checks on habitation certificates and so on back then. The developers, including some big Brit ones, were quite complicit in this as were the so-called solicitors. Building permission granted for 50 houses and 150 being put up and so on. 

I know one area where the builders took the money, used it to take out mortgages on the land and then went into liquidation with the owners having no deeds (money owed), no habitation certificate and no utilities. One urbanisation actually put in their own meters and then went round collecting the electric charges so they could pay the bill.

Then the pay a lot in cash and declare the property was valued at half the price.

Thankfully, people are getting a bit wiser now what with social media and so on but pretty sure it still goes on although not to the extent it was 15 years ago.

And 15 years ago you didn't even need an NIE to buy the property let alone a habitation certificate.

We used to have a poster on here years ago (user name the name of a plane like 737 or something and bobaol who gave some pretty harrowing stories about these illegal builds. 

Haven't heard those stories for some time now but caveat emptor and all that. Remember the one where a couple couldn't find the land they wanted to build their own house? Met a bloke in the pub who said he'd get them the one they wanted if they stumped up a couple of hundred thousand euros which, amazingly, they did. Got the land, built the house and got it pulled down six months later as it was rural land and no permission given to build.

Thankfully not heard anything like that for a while but there are some stupid people out there (although in 737? and bobaol case they'd done everything but got shafted by both the agents (Brit company that used to fly people over from UK) and the solicitors who were part of the same group.

 





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04 Feb 2022 3:54 PM by Kavanagh Star rating in Oil Drum Lane Newcas.... 1225 posts Send private message

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It would be interesting to know if all this past and present property scamming, fake bank guarantees, and lawyer neglect is equally targeted at Spanish nationals as well as foreigners.



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There is enough in the world for everyone, but not enough for the greedy!



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04 Feb 2022 4:09 PM by mariedav Star rating in Ciudad Quesada. 1177 posts Send private message

I remember from 737s previous posts that all nationalities were on his urbanisation including Spanish residents.

I also remember an agent telling us the "put money down" and declare a lower value was "the way things were done in Spain". Obviously not because the press was full of letters from Spanish saying they'd been caught in the trap and were now having huge tax demands running to thousands of euros. 





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04 Feb 2022 5:05 PM by acer Star rating. 1493 posts Send private message

Mariedav, thanks for yours - sorry I missed the 15 years comment, silly me. 

But Hab Certs have been a legal necessity for a long time.  I know as in 2005 the builder I was buying from rather cheekily issued proceedings in the local Spanish court in Murcia against me for failing to complete on a new build purchase. 

My reason for not completing was the absence of a Hab Cert being available, which was also my defence in court, and accepted with hardly any comment.  But as you say it was a "wild west" mentality in those days when corruption was rife and too many didn't realise the general low standards of advice from solicitors.  In my mind it's still very mixed.

Another more recent problem is the amount of times that building extensions have taken place w/o licences from the Town Hall.  Often the Town Hall are aware of breaches, but do nothing until the conveyance process starts - then they want to impose fines and back taxes.  So yes caveat emptor is alive and living very well off those who are too trusting in Spain.



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06 Feb 2022 8:55 AM by ads Star rating. 4092 posts Send private message

Don't you all see the sick psyche that appears to have developed here, where there are so many depending on failures in the conveyancing and real estate system to earn a living? And not only depend upon, but are allowed to purposefully perpetuate harm upon others? 

It's an indication of what happens when corruption and protectionism is allowed to thrive without trusted regulatory structures and reporting and monitoring mechanisms in place to protect, where the law is disrepected or manipulated by those who use the failing structure and loopholes to their own ends, where there is sadly too little care for one's fellow man other than to forewarn but take little part in serious reform. Disbelieving that there is any possibility to achieve such protection. And so sad when the assumption is that you can trust no one but are required to seek out all the pitfalls that should never have been allowed to happen from the outset. 

It's as though there is all too little pride or trust in a system that everyone participates in, that corruption has been accepted and normalised, and you are told to accept the status quo and be done with it.

It's so sad at times to see such little self belief in the ability to improve and effectively reform this sick conveyancing system which increasingly depends on organised support of those trying to educate with good intent and courageously striving for change from within.





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06 Feb 2022 10:27 AM by acer Star rating. 1493 posts Send private message

...or is it just a need to be pragmatic.

I've had a varied career, but latterly ended-up in the Property sector.  Significant parts of it are corrupt, both in Spain and the UK.  Over a year ago, in January 2020 there were headlines in the UK media about massive changes planned by the government to make the leasehold system fairer.  Twelve months on precisely nothing has happened, not even a hint of a white paper this year!

In fairness a few of the larger builders have voluntarily announced that they will no longer sell houses on a leasehold basis, with rampantly escalating ground rents.  Arguably this has been the worst form of abuse, there are many others - but there's absolutely nothing been done by the government.  The Law Society has been equally weak in ensuring protection to the public through their conveyancing members.  So I'm uncertain we can be too critical of some of the farcical situations that are allowed to exist in Spain.



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06 Feb 2022 11:22 AM by ads Star rating. 4092 posts Send private message

Two wrongs don't make a right Acer and the inference was not that the UK is without fault.
Farcical situations that exist in Spain need to be exposed and debated and sometimes to resort to comparisons in the UK makes it a competitive issue that frequently can inadvertently distract away from the issue in hand, although of course I take your point.


We are talking about extortion  in Spain here and looking at how those instances have come about from a wider perspective and psyche.

What is important is surely to seek ways and solutions to prevent abuse and bullying by those who have purposeful bad intent without due consideration of fair and civilised business practice. It's good to hear that some builders are voluntarily taking the action that you have highlighted and such good practice needs to be reviewed with open mind and intent to replicate where successful. We should all be learning from successful good practice from wherever it eminates and where relevant,  if we are ever to minimise corrupt and harmful practices within the conveyancing and justice systems.

Willingness to seek out Trusted Accreditation schemes, greater transparency of Bar Association's actions to curtail malpractice and misconduct of their members, willingness to close complex legal loopholes backed by effective law from the outset, enforcement of compliance within the financial sector, adequate resourcing of the justice system ,etc, etc,  all depend upon good faith and willingness to overcome corrupt and harmful practice, that ironically does a grave disservice to all too many citizens at the end of the day, whether National or non nationals. 

 


This message was last edited by ads on 2/6/2022.



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06 Feb 2022 12:51 PM by Kavanagh Star rating in Oil Drum Lane Newcas.... 1225 posts Send private message

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Hello ads

Willingness from within would be like a turkey voting for Christmas. The industries and their regulators in the discussion are riddled with corruption to the degree that they consider it routine. Surgery is needed and that can only come from the very top authority. Only severe penalties will change a corrupt culture. At the moment there seems to be no effective transparent accountability or regulation.

The real question here is how does the public persuade the government to take action? And does the public actually care?



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06 Feb 2022 1:04 PM by baz1946 Star rating. 2304 posts Send private message

The public don't care right up to the time it all goes wrong and then it's everyone else to blame but them, I have said many times, don't buy of plan, let the new builds stand empty, but of course as we know that won't happen because the buying public when it comes to buying a house are stupid, sell them a 10 years old car and they want to know everything, and all hell is let lose when it goes wrong, sell them a 150,000€ house and they just seem to shrug problems of even if you warn them of possible future dangers. The main reason it won't ever change is because nothing is wrong with their system.



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06 Feb 2022 3:53 PM by ads Star rating. 4092 posts Send private message

To generalise in this way and suggest that society doesn't  care is defeatist and in itself ironically undermines progress and reform. If not careful those with negative psyche unwittingly play into the hands of those who try to exploit.

Little civilised progress is ever achieved without struggle, determination, vision, a sense of moral compass and self belief from those who tend to have a more positive psyche.

But the impact of law on society that you make reference to, cannot be over emphasised.

Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people.

This is why it's essential to remain positive proactive and organised and willing to seek out solutions wherever the civilised rule of law that took years to achieve, becomes challenged, in whatever form that may take.

To this end the legal system in Spain now needs professionals with all those positive attributes and intellectual savvy more than ever if a downward spiral of chaos (that  promotes insecurity, distrust, exploitation etc) is ever to be minimised 

Time will tell of course.





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07 Feb 2022 10:07 AM by baz1946 Star rating. 2304 posts Send private message

Well, ads the fact is because so many people still buy of plan, and still so many people get caught out one way or the other suggests to me that society (Buyers) does not care. This is one forum not thousands, I have no idea if other forums are trying to solve this problem because I don't read any others, but surely even you can see it will take more then one person complaining to, it seems to one solicitor on here. Being a defeatist is something I have never ever been, but if a fool won't take advice or notice of others that have been in a very bad situation then so be it, buy it if you can see it, touch it, feel it....And sometimes thats still a risk.



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07 Feb 2022 12:03 PM by ads Star rating. 4092 posts Send private message

I do understand your take on this Baz and yes of course offplan is a risk too far as things currently stand, but it still requires messaging that the conveyancing system in general requires reform, especially at the outset of purchase to act as protection going forward. As you no doubt know there are many hidden aspects to the legal conveyancing process  that are complex and easily misunderstood, which is where the description "fool" can become contentious. So many unnecessary hidden pitfalls that exacerbate purchaser vulnerability and perpetuate litigation need exposing and solving at point of purchase.
 

So it becomes an educative exercise to prove what is happening and requires research to seek out the complex detail that is often hidden or misunderstood. But it's as though every time such detail is exposed with a view to forewarn but with emphasis on formulating workable solutions, there are those who go into protective mode to defend or point fingers elsewhere, when in reality that achieves little.

 
Sadly some posters who are obviously very well versed in all manner of detail relating to Spanish residency who to their credit are so informative, appear to take little interest in exposing such aspects of the conveyancing system that are in dire need of reform, preferring to suggest on occasion that this is Spain, and just accept it , with little attempt to engage with the problem and willingness to seek out solutions that have the potential to be mutually beneficial. Emphasis on mutually beneficial...

It has already been proven how determination to understand the complexities can frequently open eyes to areas that it's in everyone's interest to tackle and seek reform....for instance the failures relating to non compliance and abusive behaviour by the Banks that has finally led to far greater accountability via appeal  judges reaching fair and supportive rulings that has led to supportive case law. ( but as already stressed...still has some way to go in that regard). 


And now the focus should be on these abusive developers whose behaviour is not just impacting non nationals but nationals alike. If left unchallenged society effectively becomes the loser.... and those hypocritical areas where failure to tackle abuse at source which in turn proliferates litigation ( I.e. abusive practice pays) requires exposure too. It requires review from a completely different perspective where emphasis is on protecting society from abuse as opposed to turning blind eyes and proliferating abuse.
 





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07 Feb 2022 1:50 PM by acer Star rating. 1493 posts Send private message

Kavanagh,

You say "...and does the public actually care?..." implying that Brits don't, which is probably fair comment.  The Spanish are similar, with the "que será" & mañana approach to life.  And the French similar, with a casual Gallic shrug of the shoulders. 

But I've found the Germans are very different.  I used to deal with them business wise and it was an experience, not a bad one, just very different to other Europeans, always a lot more demanding.

As an aside, these days we often use a particular hotel chain (Riu) who have a large German patronage, which leads to a lot higher service standards.  So for me it's a kind of - if you cannot beat them join them! 

It's sad through that Brits too readily accept second best or don't make a serious fuss and take it all the way when they're ripped off.  Too often they kid themselves into believing that having a good moan is the answer.  It would be good to see us thumping the table a lot more!  So I like what ads says.



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Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.



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