THE legality of a double garage has driven two expat friends into a vicious court battle.
It began when Brits John and Jean Foyen discovered that the carport at a home they were buying in Mijas did not have an official licence.
Terrified of owning an illegal property they pulled out of the purchase and demanded their money back from expat developer Derek Furnell.
Now, after a seven-year legal wrangle, a judge has sided with them and ordered Furnell’s company Monte Athos to return their initial €155,000 deposit, plus costs of €85,000.
While it is an apparent victory for the former retirement home owners, both 67, from London, it has come at a serious cost.
Not only has Monte Athos now folded, but they have been told by their former friend Furnell that they are unlikely to be paid anytime soon.
The case began when the couple agreed to put down the deposit on the three-bed semi-detached home by El Chaparral golf club in 2004.
Their dream retirement home however, turned into a nightmare when it emerged that the Licence of First Occupation could be in jeopardy as the garage of the home was not legal.
They discovered that developer Furnell had bricked up the developments’ garages in order to get town hall approval and were advised by lawyers that they should pull out of the deal.
And this is when the problems really began, with Furnell suing them to force them to complete the purchase.
While they eventually won the case and also an appeal, they believe they will never get their money back.
Meanwhile, Furnell continues to work through a new company set up by his wife.
Last night, Furnell confirmed that he continued to be involved in selling plots in the Chaparral area.
He said: “I am very sorry it’s ended up in this situation. I have been building houses here for 26 years and never had a problem.
“I hope to see a brighter future when this is resolved.”
When pushed on a date for paying the money back, he added: “I can’t give him a date at the moment. It’s in the hands of the courts.”