My Personal Horror Story

Published on 15/11/2006 in Real Life Stories

We paid a deposit on a villa on 7th February 2003 (36,000 euros). In Spain when you pay a deposit on a property it is given to the owner of the property immediately. On 9th February 2003 we paid a visit to the villa and saw that half the garden had been dug away, there was a large crack in the terrace (garage roof), with rain pouring into garage. The huge retaining wall which supported the garage, garden and house had moved substantially.

The owner assured us it was repairable and had started work to rectify the problem. We contacted our lawyer immediately. This legal company is a very large and well known company on the Costa del Sol with mainly English clientele. It also has a branch in Madrid and has over 50 lawyers working for them. They assured us it was not a problem to get our deposit returned if the damage was too serious and they sent a surveyor along whose report said it was a major problem.

We allowed the repairs to carry on but the wall continued to move and the repair was very unsatisfactory. When we felt we could not carry on and buy this villa, our lawyer said that it was not any problem and with the evidence – photos and surveyors report – we would receive our deposit back immediately. We were told in legal terms that the property had become defective.

The deposit was not returned by the owner of the villa and again we were reassured that this was still not a problem but we would have to institute court proceedings to get our deposit returned. We asked what costs were involved and were given a written estimate of approx 5,000 euros which we were told would be returned to us as there was no doubt we would win the case and the case was a mere formality. It would not be necessary for us to give evidence since they had everything they needed to win the case.

The court case was on 5th May 2003. Neither our lawyer nor surveyor showed up. We automatically lost the case because of no legal representation. The judge waited an hour for us to be able to try and contact our lawyer but we could not even contact the company. Our lawyer eventually arrived at the courts when the court case was completed and therefore too late and said she had a slight mishap with the car. She said she had forgotten her mobile phone, which is why she could not phone the courts, which of course is nonsense because she seemingly managed to contact the breakdown people if you were to believe her story. As the case was at 9.15 am on a Monday we felt she had overslept, but of course could not prove it.

The company apologised and said they would take responsibility but only if we allowed them to go appeal. We wrote to them telling them we had very strong reservations about winning the case on appeal and we just could not afford to lose any more money. They said that there would be no further costs to us as they would meet the cost of the appeal, which they were very confident they would win.

On 6th October 2004 we were informed we had lost the case at appeal. They tried to persuade us to allow them to appeal onto the Supreme Court in Madrid.

On December 9th 2004 we were sent a fax telling us that we had to pay all the other parties costs which would be approx 58,000 euros, which we could appeal against (more costs).

We now know that when the wall first became defective our legal representatives should have taken the Notary to see the property and we also now know that no new case was presented to the appeal court which is why we lost.

At various times this legal company said when it was all over they would have a meeting with us to negotiate their responsibility, this has not happened

We contacted loads of other lawyers to see if they would help us and all the other lawyers said that there was no doubt our legal firm had been negligent but unfortunately they could not help us as they all came from the same college and lawyers do not take on other lawyers despite how obviously there is a negligence case. Then we did find a young lawyer (Diego) in March 2005 who was very sympathetic and said he would help us with a negligence case, which would be very easy to prove. With his help we had the costs of 58,000 euros reduced by approx 5,000 euros, but now that seems to be swallowed up by his own costs.

On September 12th 2005 we were informed that we had three weeks to pay approx 36,000 euros otherwise we would lose our home as there would be an embargo put on it and it would be sold. We managed to get the money to the court the day before deadline

In May 2006 we were informed we had until 20th June to find the remaining 17.000 euros. This we have now paid.

Our total losses are approx 96,000 euros.

We have now been informed by our new young lawyer (Diego) that the other legal company will not answer any communications and therefore will now not take any responsibility leaving us to find this enormous amount of money. There have also been other legal costs. At the last meeting with Diego he seemed to have been “got at” and seemed to be pulling away from us saying the other company was too big and as we were foreigners we needed to be afraid if we took them on as they had big arms and knew where we lived.

This has ruined our lives as we had just retired and were looking forward to a comfortable retirement. There does not seem to be any direction to which we can turn for help.


Written by: Linda Murphy

About the author:

Right arrow icon Send to friends   Right arrow icon Printer friendly version    Right arrow icon Submit your own article


eggcup said:
22 November 2012 @ 23:14

I can't get over some of the ugly comments people make in these comments sections. I really feel for the awful injustice perpetrated against Linda. Anyone with half a brain can see she has been treated appallingly. To make out she somehow should have known all the intricacies of the Spanish legal system, when clearly most of the Spanish lawyers don't know them, or in this case, blatantly disregarded them whilst still making their money, is ludicrous in the extreme. I hope that Linda has had some good luck following this and enjoys good health and happiness. And I hope that the criminals who caused her so much anguish have had what they deserve, too.

bitten allso said:
05 May 2010 @ 23:52

to me it seems that the only business in spain , is farming the expats , prior to taking us to the slaughter house.

JGR said:
25 January 2008 @ 17:37

xavier money, if you don´t like this country you know what you have to do. Thank you.

isaflat said:
05 May 2007 @ 15:05

another tip I´d give to buyers is to hire a "perito" before paying the deposit.You can find them at the "colegios oficiales de arquitectos" (those are "guild houses" so to say, where architects register after they graduate and the ministry issues their titles)
"Peritos" can visit the house and see any flaw in the structure.
Linda I hope you could repair the house and live quietly in it after all.

isaflat said:
05 May 2007 @ 14:54

well I think the mockery is to get into a country not knowing absolutely nothing of their legal system. To have a Notario "levantando acta" of the state the house was in is BASIC proceedings. I know that because I´ve bothered to inform myself from the sources (via a translator) instead of trusting just one firm because they make me feel home. We trust our nationals thinking that they know better, without checking if they have Spanish staff and translators that can really implement the essential communication.
By the way Xavier, I can´t understand what you´re doing in Spain thinking that. Just get out of here me, you have Turkey and Morocco to colonise yet !

xavier money said:
29 March 2007 @ 20:28

How sad, and yet typical of the Spanish Legal system.
How they were ever allowed into the EU is a mystery to me, they just make a mockery of everything the EU community is supposed to stand for.

Roberto said:
30 November 2006 @ 17:32

I'm so sorry to hear your story. I hope you will be able to move on from this disaster and still enjoy your retirement here. It always annoys me when I watch these "home in the sun" programs which advise people to use a local, English speaking lawyer to avoid any problems, as if all lawyers can be trusted 100%. Perhaps contacting the makers of one of these programs about your experiences would be useful. Maybe they would be interested in trying to help.

Only registered users can comment on this article. Please Sign In or Register now.

Comment Using Facebook:

Related articles in this category

A Guesthouse in Spain….Living the dream

A New Beginning - Katie's Story

A New Life in Spain - A Big Gamble!

A new way of life in Almeria ...

A Year In The Life Of The President

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 2

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 3

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 4

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 5

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 6

A Year In The Life Of The President - Part 7

An Easy Decision - Mark's Story

Crystal Ball - Dario's Move to Spain

Eating (Free) Tapas In Granada

From Ruin To Reformation In Andalucia

How We Made The Move - Sharon's Story

I Bought In Algorfa In Costa Blanca

I Got My Money Back - Margaret's Story

If at First You Don't Succeed... - Tina's Story

In Search of a Better Life

In Spain a Pharmacists Lot is not a Happy One!!

Love on the Rocks

Manners in Spain

Musicman in La Tosquilla - Mike's Story

My Cave House Business Story

My First Three Months as President

My Fraud in Spain

My Many Thanks to Cudeca

My Moving To Spain Story

My Own Land Grab Nightmare

My Personal Horror Story

My Plain Sailing Trip To Spain

My Wedding Guide Business - Angel's Story

No Job, No Money, Let's Move To Spain - Part 2

No Job, No Money, Let's Move To Spain - Part 3

One Year On In Spain

Our Adventure Driving Back To UK

Our Andalucian Adventure - Anne's Story

Our Shattered Spanish Dream

Our Thirty Years In Spain

Residential Rroperty In Spain: A View From A Recent Visitor

Santa Ana Del Monte - Why we said Yes

Spanish Villa Care - Stephen's Story

Static Caravans, Spain and a Donkey! - Lesley's Story

Steve Hall Completes His 127 Day Challenge

The Search for a Missing Diamond

The Spanish Dream That Took Too Long

The Wedding Singer

The Year Of The Tortoise - A B&B Is Born

TRG Wonders ...... Going Home To The UK - But Where Has Home Gone?

We Swapped Croydon for Jerez - Paul's Story

What Else Can go Wrong? - Chris's Story

What The Heck, Let's Do It

Click here for a list of all the articles from our magazine 

Spain insurance services

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x