The Day the Don Juan Community Defeated Don Juan
Published on 26/11/2007 in Your Spanish Home
How do I start to describe that meeting!! I’m not sure I can. If you are able to attend a community meeting I recommend you do. It gives a tremendous insight into how everything works and at the same time is hugely entertaining.
Completions in Don Juan, Fuengirola started in September. The developer appointed an administrator and the 1st community meeting was called for 28th September. To our surprise the developer did not show up and a Spanish president and English speaking Dutch vice president were elected by the residents. The developer then sent bills for work that was carried out before the community was formed to the administrator. The president and administrator refused to pay so the developer used the votes of the more than 25% of the apartments he still had to call an EGM. Initially the only items on the agenda were his resolutions to have the disputed bills paid. When he realised the administrator he has chosen was not favouring him he added another resolution calling for the appointment of a new administrator.
Through Eye on Spain we were able to keep non resident owners informed about the meeting and the issues. The PM system was very useful – I sent proxy forms to every recent contributor by PM and took over 20 proxies with me to the meeting. Others who were in Spain but flying back before the meeting left proxies with the vice president. Until the meeting we had no idea if we had done enough.
The meeting itself was very dramatic. The developer's all female team drove up in a shiny black BMW X5. This gave them presence and they appeared very confident. The president drove the few yards from his apartment a few minutes later and parked his black Range Rover facing (and somewhat overshadowing) the BMW. This took away from the impact of the X5. Intentional? I’m not sure but it was symbolic.
Registration of those present and checking the proxies took some time. All our proxies were accepted – most signed but some e-mails as well. The developer had votes for apartments occupied by his family and staff and even some proxies given by solicitors who had power of attorney who had been asked to provide them at completion meetings! Thankfully the votes he thought he held for the remaining apartments were ruled invalid as they had not paid the initial community fees on them! The combination of the residents attending and our proxies was a clear majority of valid votes.
Although it was obvious the developer was not going to win they stayed for the whole meeting and argued vainly for every resolution. At one point the developer’s daughter, who is legally trained and was their main spokesman, seemed to completely loose the plot – I wasn’t sure what she said at the time but afterwards I discovered she had told the administrator explicitly what she was going to do to his private parts! This does not seem to have made it into the minutes.
There are many positive outcomes from this. Proxy votes are easy to give and may well make the difference on a crucial decision. The English speakers’ relationship with our Spanish neighbours was also enhanced as they appreciated what we had done. Key to all of this is Eye on Spain. It is more than just a talking shop. It is a tool which can be used to overcome the difficulties non residents often experience in playing their part in their communities.
Don Juan is a beautiful development. The developer was so proud of it he named it after himself. If he had won at the EGM he would have been able to take community money and with an administrator in his pocket go on doing so. Instead Don Juan is firmly in the control of the community and we’re planning for our 1st proper AGM in January when we will again be able to ensure that absent owners can have their say through proxy votes.
Written by: David Munster
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