Our Shattered Spanish Dream

Published on 05/05/2010 in Real Life Stories

We put a deposit down of nearly £50,000 and another 6,000 Euros initially for a 2 Bed/ 2Bath apartment on a new development in Arroyo de la Miel in Benalmedena, on the Costa del Sol, called Arenal Golf.

Our British agent seemed honest and reliable at that time.  They took us around the site and after seeing their Solicitor we parted with 6,000 Euros and were told to send the 30 percent in a month’s time which we did.

The show flat was impressive and we were told what we saw would be what we would get.  We made several visits to the site as the apartment would take 2 years which suited us fine.

Sadly every time we visited the site we were not allowed anywhere near the apartment.  After 2 years of this treatment we put our foot down and reluctantly we saw our apartment.  We got the shock of our lives.  The apartment was nothing like the show flat in design, layout or size.

We made a stink and the Spanish solicitor ran around getting us to obtain an affidavit for her as this was not done in the past.  She tried to help by saying pick another flat but each time the asking prices were too high and no way near our original price we had settled for.  We returned to the UK with a promise Phase 4 was to be completed a year later and that that development would definitely suit us.

February of that year came, not an email or response from either Solicitor or the developer.   We then had to engage a British Solicitor in the UK and decided to cancel the contract and ask for our money back.   This also dragged on for months and we suddenly found out that the Directors of Arenal Golf 2000 along with 20 Town Hall officials were arrested and jailed for embezzlement .

This took another few months of worries and anxiety .  Finally our UK solicitors got a document saying the Caja Bank has taken over and could we be patient as they were in the progress of employing new builders/ selling agents etc.  We were then informed that as we were not happy, the new company would refund all our monies.  Our solicitor has this in writing.  He waited several months [nearly a year] and finally we took the developers to court for sign of dragging their feet.

To our amazement when we finally got the verdict the Judge favoured the Developer saying that Arenal had informed us and confirmed the property was complete with all the required licences/ local authority stamps of completion etc.  No thought or mention why we took them to court in the first place; we had been promised our money back but no mention of that .

We were so gutted, frustrated and disappointed and now pretty broke.  We are now Pensioners and all of our savings have gone on solicitors and court fees etc .  We have appealed against the Judge’s decision in May 2009 but so far nothing.  We don’t know what to do now.  We have joined 900 other Brits that are in the same position.

A hard working Lady called Suzanne  (www.spanishpropertyscandalpetition.co.uk) has taken her case and that of the others to Downing Street/Brussells and we are hoping the two Governments could hopefully come to our rescue.

If there are any Eye of Spain retired solicitors/legal advisors that can come forward with ideas or help please do so you will be making a lot of people happy including us two foolish/inexperienced Codgers.

We can be contacted on zen63891@zen.co.uk. We are just ordinary hard working happy people looking for a wee bit of sunshine in our retirement which has been taken away from us.

Written by: Faye Bartels

About the author:

I am Faye Bartels living in the Middlesex area of the UK.My husband Johnny and I are both retired and our Dream was to retire in Spain having holidayed there for the past 30 years.We loved the culture/the people/the cuntryside and abobe all the sunshine.Please read our sad experience and the pridictament we are in.

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Martin cynberg said:
17 November 2012 @ 10:32

We out down approx £50000 deposit our house was not built on time so we were give an option to get our money back to no avail we went to court won our case ,but still can't get our money back this was. Approx 9yrs our solicitor is. Useless can't afford a new one what a terrible system Spain's h law is a waste of time what happened to euro protection martin Cynberg

gabrielsmummy said:
14 October 2011 @ 00:23

you should NEVER BUY A PROPERTY THATS NOT EVEN BUILT YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how silly. what was wrong with buying a house that was already built?!

gabrielsmummy said:
14 October 2011 @ 00:22

thought you said the property was complete, thats what arenal said to the judge. if its complete then why dont you move in?

David said:
12 November 2010 @ 15:48

We purchased an apartment on Arenal Golf, on Phase 3. Whilst there were some delays we are very pleased with our finished apartment which was even better than we imagined. Although some work is still taking place on the development it is now firmly established and the golf course is looking good. Like most things in Spain you have to expect them to be a bit slower than in the UK but in our case it was well worth waiting for.

goodstich44 said:
14 May 2010 @ 14:07

How sad to read of yet more decent people being screwed by the Spanish system. Those in power in Spain should indeed hang their heads in shame for causing such misery to so many hard working honest people. I believe Marta's route to justice is the only chance we have now, as despite Spain having so many chances to do the right thing, it continues to ignore evidence, petetions, it's own laws, EU laws, and much of it's own corruption and lack of regulation that has hurt so many. Spain is clearly not acting on behalf of those it's wronged, so it looks like we will have to rely on outside pressure to to do their work for them and bring about justice. That in itself will be a huge up hill struggle, but what else can we do?

Maggy said:
07 May 2010 @ 20:37


Dear friends,

Your email campaign against the Spanish Land Grab was a success; all the British, Belgian, Dutch, German, Irish and Spanish MEPs were contacted and received in some cases, several hundred emails. Many of them responded positively, told you that they sympathised, that they attended a committee, spoke to Zapatero, but almost all of them fell short of saying they would support an outright resolution in Parliament.

The Auken Report was adopted by the European Parliament in March 2009, and its recommendation has been ignored by Spain - a year on. Without a credible threat, Spain will not address the problem. I have vowed to block EU funds to the Spain - and the only means to achieve this, is a parliamentary resolution.

I now ask, that you write to your MEPs, tell them to listen to the people, go beyond traditional politics and cross party lines, and ask them to support a resolution in the European Parliament. No other measure will do - Any other answer is just an attempt to drown this issue. I will seek a vote in the forthcoming parliamentary session to achieve this.

Please find attached my May newsletter.

Yours sincerely,

Marta Andreasen
Member of the European Parliament for South East England

Faro said:
07 May 2010 @ 14:59

I'm afraid you are just one of many caught up in the corruption and legal nightmare that is Spain.

Rob in bubble busted land said:
06 May 2010 @ 22:40

Did you not sign a bank guarantee? I have friends who bought in Polaris world and inspite of the bank garantee expiring and the bankruptcy they still got their money back. Many thanks to EOS (maybe they should rename to to black eye on spain) Maria!!!

Beverley said:
06 May 2010 @ 18:05

Like Diane, we too purchased an off-plan property on the Almanzora country club in Almeria. We paid out 60K euros in 2004 with the promise that the build would be complete in 2006. In 2008, 2 years late, the developer was still wrangling with the local government over whether the building licence was legal, so we pulled out and asked for our bank guarantees to be actioned. Our solicitor, Aldea, dragged their feet for well over a year, so we employed another solicitor in Feb 2009. In March 2009 we received the first of our bank guarantees, 22K euros, but Aldea kept fobbing us off about the second one. Eventually, in September 2009, our new solicitor advised us that our old solicitor, Aldea, had gone bankrupt and had cashed in the bank guarantees of over 1500 clients. We are now having to go through a lengthy court case to try to recover any of our outstanding 38K euros. Just a word of warning - it's not always the Spanish builders who do you over, occasionally it's the Spanish solicitor.

John hughes said:
06 May 2010 @ 13:01

I am in the same position with 3/4 properies which have either been late or fruadulent.
I have already obtained a warrant for the arrest and embargo of the directors involved.
And would be happy to learn more about your case.
If you then want to join the tort that we already have, I am happy to discuss with you.
I am in Spain now and will see my lawyer on Friday.
John Hughes

Leeanne said:
06 May 2010 @ 10:24

Sadly there are too many greedy building companies (& individuals) who ruin it fior¡¡¡or the rest of us. But not all of them are that way inclined - many started projects as honest people, who have just been caught out with debt ridden Uk buyers pulling out of their holiday home purchase as that's the first thing to let go of. He would be relying on these next payments to be coming in to continue the build (remember they must first pay for & install roads, pavements, lighting etc) - then the houses follow. Many are as inocent as the buyer & just got caught out with the escalating crisis situation.
Many also, let their company get out of hand via bad managment & accounting.
However - all / most buyers should have been offered a 'bank guarantee' (return of funds if the company falls apart/fails to deliver etc etc) with each of their payments - although down to the builder to supply this, some offered it at the buyers cost extra. Many thought it was a waste of their money, many thought it was not needed.
Either way, ALL contracts off plan should also include a map/plan of site, showing location of property & with plan / layout of property being purchased withing the site, showing rooms, & size, m2 etc, together with price & breakdown of payments.

maggs said:
05 May 2010 @ 18:05

I purchased on Arenal Golf phase 4 and agree it was a long wait and deceided to go along rather than cancel and to my surprise when viewing my apartment on completion I was delighted with the quality, finish, pool area, parking, storage and general cleanliness and more so now as they are refurbishing the golf course.

diane said:
05 May 2010 @ 17:56

We purchased off plan 7 years ago , spent 50K deposit, paid 2 solicitors still no joy, i cant believe a memeber of the eu allows the treatment of innocent peoples money. our property was almanzora country club the developer HUMA they dont reply to our mails

sonia and sue said:
05 May 2010 @ 16:36

we to bought property in spain jumilla that to was to be our dream home to,in2005 we bought off plan they said it would be ready in 2 years which suited us ,because we had to sell our house and everything in it so we were ready to move when the time came.But 3 trips later out to the site nothing had been done,all they did was play lip service 5 years on we are still waiting to get our money back we wished we had never heard of spain.

Will said:
05 May 2010 @ 14:49

We too ran into problems with Arenal on their Duquesa development although nowhere near as bad as yours.

The development is finished and it's very nice, but eventually two years beyond our completion date. We cancelled the contract but had to sue them for the deposit and stage payment of almost €80K.

In the end it was the insurance company that paid out - it was a slam dunk breach of contract, but we are continuing with a further claim of interest and legal fees of almost €30K which is fully supported by the purchase contract.

If iot was the other way around you can bet they would be pursuing us.

Other Owners have been successful in obtaining their deposits back so I wouldn't give up all hope yet.

vikki said:
05 May 2010 @ 14:17

Would it had not been better to had taken the apartment that they offered you, at least you would now be living the dream, not stuck here in the UK.

Jim Ross said:
05 May 2010 @ 13:25

Hi I am looking for any Scottish peole involved in any property disasters,whether planning wrangles,demolition orders or cowboy estate agents and builders.
Please contact me .......


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