It seems 2008 has got off to a very bad start for the Spanish property market. We all knew that this was going to be a tough year after the boom period ended but with an unfavourable exchange rate, as I discussed last week, we now have the frightening prospect of apparently legal homes being demolished by the Junta de Andalucia.
I am sure that most people are now aware of the case of the retired couple Len and Helen Prior, both 63, whose Villa was demolished in Vera, Almeria on the 9th of January. This case has sent a chilling message to ALL property owners in Spain. The Junta de Andalucia (JDA) is serious about returning green belt land back to nature.
Len and Helen’s horrific experience has been widely publicised by the UK media, and rightly so. The actions of the JDA do not respect people’s basic human rights. This case throws into doubt the “we’ll be ok, we bought in good faith” theory as it seems that this no longer applies.
What many people don’t realise is that this is not the first case of demolition orders being executed in Andalucia. Back in December the JDA demolished five villas illegally built in Obejo, Cordoba. One of those was being used as a permanent resident whilst the other four were second homes.
Even Antonio Banderas’s villa which is practically on the beach is also scheduled for demolition.
The Junta is serious about restoring the landscape to what it was. It seems many innocent victims will lose their homes in Spain and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a lot that can be done about it.
So why is the JDA acting now?
Over the past years, illegal builds have been quite common and whole areas have been funded through this activity. Until now developers and town halls have largely been able to get away with it…but not for much longer.
The JDA is enforcing a new law that came into effect in 2002 to control the extreme building up of the coasts. As happened to the priors, even though they had all their permits and licences in place issued to them by the town hall, the town hall was not in a position to issue them as the land was classified as rural in the eyes on the JDA and therefore, couldn’t be built on.
Often mayors believe they are above the law and can write their own rules. The JDA is there to make sure the mayors don’t step out of line. The question is why did they let it get to this stage? Everyone knew what was going on, why didn’t the JDA step in earlier to curb these megalomaniac mayors?
What the JDA should be doing
Knocking down people’s houses is not the answer. The JDA needs to go after the mayors, lawyers and developers that flout these laws. The mayor who allowed the Priors’ house to be built is still in power. Why hasn’t he been punished? Why is he allowed to remain in power having signed off hundreds of illegal properties in the area? He’s the one that let this get this far. Why don’t they pull his house down too?
So you may sense I’m a little angry here. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that it was expats that got targeted. Many of the properties sold on illegal land will have been sold to unsuspecting expats. They are the ones who have brought money into these area and they are the ones owning these illegal homes.
I’m angry that the ones who should be brought to justice aren’t, they are allowed to remain in power and in their homes. Something isn’t right here.
What the JDA has managed to do here is ram a huge nail into the already fragile Spanish property coffin. Who is safe any more? It seems having the right permits and licences from the town hall is not enough any more.
I personally did not think that the Junta would actually take this action, but I, like many, have been proved wrong.
The question is now, do we sit back and wait or do we take some action?
There are thousands of homes at stake here, surely we need to take some action to stop the roll out of demolitions?
If you want to join some collective action then post your comments on the forum:
Remember, if you are buying in Spain the best advice is GET A GOOD LAWYER and don’t take any risks.