Expat fire victims forced to wait years to start rebuilding

LAST UPDATED: 31 Dec, 2012 @ 07:41
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Expat fire victims forced to wait years to start rebuilding

EXCLUSIVE By Frances Leate

EXPAT homeowners who lost everything in devastating fires that ripped through the Costa Del Sol could be forced to wait years to rebuild their lives.

Three months on from Malaga’s worst ever fire – which damaged hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of land – many victims are still homeless and struggling to get the green light to start building work.

Because of a new law, introduced last year to regulate properties which had been built on land not originally designated for construction, homeowners must seek a special building permit from the town hall.

In turn, the town council then needs to seek approval from the Junta.

Pat Laing, originally from Manchester, is helping to launch a campaign to put pressure on the Mijas Town Hall and the government.

She said: “At first it was hoped that people could start rebuilding their homes immediately and do the legalisation process later, but the Junta has said that despite the tragic circumstances no exceptions will be made.

“Now it could take years and many of us are quite simply in limbo, renting apartments or staying with friends.

“It really is a desperate situation. We are not the only ones with irregular homes. There are thousands of homes in Mijas alone that were built without going through an official legal process.

“Yet we are being punished the most for it.”

She added: “Some people have lost everything in this fire, all their belongings and their homes and now they are facing a battle just to rebuild their lives.”

 

One of the worst affected is Sue Holloway, 59, originally from Staffordshire, who built her Mijas home with partner, Andrew Barrie, 12 years ago.

She said: “At first we were staying at a friend’s house from where we can see our burnt out house from his terrace. It was very upsetting.

“Now we are renting an apartment in Mijas but don’t feel at all settled.”

In particular, she feels very hard done by with the new ruling.

She said: “We built our home from a farm building and when the new law was introduced we paid €1,000 to get things legalised, but in the end nothing got done.

“We just hope more people that have been affected will come forward and help us to do something about it.

“There is strength in numbers and we have to keep fighting our cause.”

A spokesman from the Mijas foreigners’ department said it had drafted a motion to the Junta asking it to grant permission.

“We are really desperate to see this resolved as quickly as possible but it is the Junta that has to catalogue the disaster, give the go-ahead for compensation and grant the permit.

“As a town council also severely affected by the fires, our hands are tied and we don’t know how long the process will take.”

Sue Doran, 51, from Torquay, built her dream home with builder husband, Pete, 55, nine years ago but was forced to watch in horror as the three-bedroom property was destroyed in the blaze.

Escaping with just their passports, they are currently renting an apartment and despite applying for permission to rebuild their homes three months ago they still have not got authorisation.

She said: “We have heard of situations where families have started building work and the police have turned up and stopped everything.

“The land has been cordoned off and that was that so we can’t risk starting anything without permission.”

“I understand how things work within government and in a way I know there is very little we can actually do to get things moving faster but we just want our homes back.”

Anyone who has been affected or may be able to help the situation can join the Facebook group, Victimas del Inciendo

18 COMMENTS

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  1. Following the fire, some of the houses were possibly in a repairable state but with all the rain and the passage of time they will be beyond repair. Who is responsible for these additional damages? To my mind, it is the inability of the layers of administration to respond to a crisis that is at fault here. Please sign up to the Victimas del Incendio Facebook Group to show your support.

  2. Quote – ‘the Junta has said that despite the tragic circumstances no exceptions will be made’.

    Actually, that is a contemptible statement in ‘tragic circumstances’.

    Does the EC intend to make any worthwhile statement regarding the treatment of European (home-owning) citizens living in Spain, not just in regards to the existing problems of the ‘illegal properties scandal’ but now the attitude of the Junta official(s) towards those same citizens now affected by the recent fires in Southern Spain?

    In modern times, I ask, Where can a ‘civilised’ country go from here when despicable statements like that are issued?

  3. Andy’s comment must surely win the most dense statement of the year award. Andy, the members of SOHA and AUAN, for example, have done due diligence. They used these things called property lawyers and notaries. The only rubbish here is coming out of your mouth.

  4. Moderator/Editor,
    this thread is about people who have lost their homes. Maybe they were silly to buy farm warehouses/barns, maybe they were silly not to study how the Spanish have always operated everywhere in the world, not least in their homeland but – they have lost their homes and in many cases it represents most if not all of their capital, they don’t need someone on a vendetta against Fred polluting this thread.

    If you don’t act to stop this bunch of brownshirts now by banning them all you will see an exodus of genuine people from this forum. I have seen this happen on more than one audio forum. Brownshirts only feel strong when acting as a mob.

    They won’t chase Fred away but they will deter others and that is how forums start to die. I am a moderator on an audio forum and would’nt hesitate to get rid of the infestation.

    To all those who lost their homes – there is nothing I or anyone else can say that will in any way ameliorate your loss but you can plan for the future.

    When eventually you are allowed to build, don’t replace rubbish building with more rubbish building – use the i/net to research building materials – if there is any risk of flooding, do not rebuild at ground level. do not build down to a price but up to a quality standard – do not let Spanish builders dictate to you what materials they are going to use – better yet don’t use Spanish builders – there are plenty of good Dutch and German builders around.

    Using aercrete blocks, floors and roofing beams you can rebuild a fireproof house.

    I know it is hard but as long as you can feed yourselves and have a roof over your heads – the only way is up. Once you allow negativity to get a foothold, it’s very hard to get rid of.

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