17 Apr, 2009 @ 10:12
1 min read

More legal vultures in for a killing


ANOTHER ‘tool shed’ owner has come forward to slam lawyers who left him with an illegal house and a 15,000 euro fine.

Incredibly the British artist Peter Smith used the SAME legal firm as a group of other British owners who highlighted the scandal in our last issue.

He insists the big firm that the Olive Press is not naming for legal reasons, did the conveyancing for the house, which is only listed as a warehouse. They told him it would be legal in four years

But when he asked for confirmation in writing they said that would not be possible.


The sculptor, who built the house in Tolox, dreamed of ‘doing a Picasso’, spending several months each year working in Spain.

“But I ended up doing less work over here than I did back in Oxfordshire because of all the stress,” he said. “I am so disillusioned with the Spanish housing industry, it is farcical.”

The father of two had bought the land for 140,000 euros in 2004.

But after moving in his legal problems began.

“I got a fine of 15,000 euros which I am having to pay despite assurances for my lawyers that I would be able to legalise the house with no problem.”

He also claims the mayor of Tolox, Juan Vera, who has been charged with 23 separate planning offences, was present at two of the meetings between himself and his builder.

However, this has not protected Peter from the town hall, who are determined to fine him heavily for his unwitting crime.

While furious with his lawyers he has been told he may be able to legalise his house through the official channels.

Mr Smith’s name has been changed for legal reasons


  1. We too bought a plot of land in 2005 with a licence and project to build an almacen. We were told by the promoter that we could build it how we wished so long as it was no more than 100m2 and that after 4 years we could have it legalised. We finished our house in May 2007 and up to this present day have never stayed nor lived in it. In November 2007 we were told of a certain lawyer who would be able to legalise our property for a sum of over 5,000 euros. In Feb 2008 our house was sucessfully legalised and we were given a new escritura showing the details of our vivienda. But in that same year of 2008 were were also given a fine of 16,000 from the Town Hall of Tolox who said we had built our house as a house and not as an alamacen. But haven’t all of us done this! Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t even the Mayor of Tolox live in one of these alamacens?
    The lawyers told us that the Town Hall could not enforce this fine upon us as our house was now fully legal. NOT SO, the Town Hall are still pursuing this fine and we now have weeks to come up with 16,000 euros or go to court. So, we ask ourselves do we have a LEGAL house or not? We asked our lawyers if what they were doing was legal and they said yes! So why are we still being fined by the Town Hall?? and yet some or not?? Or is it a question of whether you are a good friend of the Mayor??
    This is just one long continuing nightmare that has no end to it. People in similiar circumstances in Tolox are living in fear, when all we/they ever wanted to do was live a quiet, happy, peaceful life in Spain and even to pay our taxes to the Town Hall, so in turn promote wealth, jobs to our village.
    So please anyone out there, is it not now time to all get together and make a stand, or do we just bury our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away.

  2. If a licence is for a shed (almacen agricola) and the building has a bathroom, kitchen and sewage then it is not an almacen. QED.

    If you read the british press this happens all the time in the UK.

  3. There is no similar comparison with the UK because the UK has a proper land registry. No one in the UK would begin to turn a shed into a house in the UK; it just would not happen because the planning process is far more vigilant and properly run. Please can you show me some stories of people turning sheds into houses Pedro?

    Spain’s planning system is third world, so stop talking out of your culo Pedro. And so send some links to those stories about sheds being turned into houses in the UK won’t you? lol, what a plonker.

  4. Fred, the land registry is not obligatory in England or Wales, (it is in Scotland). This caused a serious problem after the two world wars because many properties were destroyed by the blitz and the owners killed, and there was no record of ownership, size or anything. In fact only properties built since 1965 are registered by law, before that it was voluntary and most are not registered.

    On the other hand Spain has a land registry dating back to 1492, where all the recorded details of a property are written down. In fact you can trace the origin of any peice of land back at least a century. The fact is that people don’t bother looking. There is also the Catastro, which dates from at least 1812, and is the Spanish equivalent of the Doomsday book. Again if people don’t look then they will be open to being conned.

    Here are just a few pearls for you to read:

    Council orders couple to tear down their newly-built £2m ‘Footballer’s Wives’ mansion – because it’s 4ft too high- D. Mail 08/05/2008

    ‘The moment council bullies demolished our £700,000 dream home in front of us’ D Mail 21/02/2008

    ‘Evacuees’ see homes resold for big profits D Mail 12/08/2007

    A wealthy ice cream magnate has been ordered to demolish home D Telegraph 13/05/2009

    The demolition and forcible seizing of thousands of family homes is being driven by Whitehall. The Times 9.9.2007

    Need any more Fred?

  5. No no no Pedro, these are not sheds being turned into houses. If you read the cases that you highlighted, they are not related, at all, to the types of cases in Spain.

    You really make yourself look silly posting a few isolated unrelated UK incidents and then compare those with the enormous Spanish planning fiasco.

    Lol, Pedro’s now telling us that the Spanish planning system is better than the UKs. You seem to know so many facts Pedro, but not an ounce of common sense do you possess.

  6. Hi Pedro,

    I see your five stories about alleged property abuse in the UK and I raise you all of the stories in the blog linkned in below:


    I think you will agree that property rights abuse in Spain, however long the Spanish land registry has been around, is of a completely different order of magnitude to that in the UK.

  7. this is great isnt it…not…well we have problems as well….we bought an old stable and casita …tool shed …6 years ago and put in a small bathroom and kitchen……..we use it for the summer and weekends as we also have a small apartment by the sea….so we dont actualy live there full time….we were told that if we did not change the look we could do what we want inside…hence the small bathroom and kitchen…now we think we are about to have a visit buy the local councl….and are expecting the worst…..stress or what…can anybody help me…im poor and dont need this….

  8. John….do as the Spaniards do.
    Have tools, tend to your crops/land/animals.
    Stay the weekend, have a shower/bath, cook food in your kitchen.
    Then move to your full time address for the rest of the week. (or not) but you must have another permanent address and pay bills and taxes from there.

  9. I do not understand how people can deny the fact that Spain has a clear and efficient land registry system. If you see Spaniards acting outside the property laws, they take a calculated risk. If you decide as a foreigner to go down the same road, good luck. But you cannot blame the system if you get burned.

  10. This is one bunch of Brits I can have no sympathy with.

    An almacen is Spanish for farm warehouse, translated into English – a barn.

    Barn conversion has been heavily regulated and in most areas banned for over 20 years in the UK – should’nt that have had alarm bells ringing. Barn conversions are regulated all over Europe – how come Brits are the only ones who don’t know or who don’t want to know?

    It does seem to be that as an old manager of mine who legitimately sold property in Spain in the 70s’ said “when the Brits get off the plane they leave their brains behind”.

    Olvia – if a lawyer in the UK told you he could change planning Law for a fee – would you believe him – Law is Law.

    I have total symphathy for those who bought new builds on estates and were lied to by all in the corrupt legal chain from lawyers to mayors but we lost count of the numerous properties that were offered to us that had land with an ‘almacen’.

    Did none of you chumps look the sellers in the eye and straight out ask if the deal was legal and watch for the reactions – I know we did and the shifty eyed response was enough. Pretty quickly the word got out that we were wise to what was going on and the offers of bent deals disappeared.

    Maybe part of the problem is that so many English are incapable of making eye contact – many Spanish and French people have asked us why eye contact is a problem with nearly all the English.

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