29 Mar, 2010 @ 18:42
2 mins read

Kicked in the teeth

FIRST they were fined over 100,000 euros after being sold down the river by both lawyers and developers.

Now, in the ultimate insult, a trio of British couples have seen their illegal homes collapse into the ground after flooding and with little hope of compensation.

The group each sunk their life savings into the trio of ‘luxury’ three-bedroom villas on a hillside near Tolox.

But, despite going by the book and enrolling the services of expensive local lawyers to undertake the conveyancing, they ended up with illegal homes.

For the homes, as it turned out, were merely given licences as ‘tool sheds’ and therefore not fit for habitation.

One more heavy spell of rain could lead to total collapse

After an investigation from the Junta, the group of pensioners were fined 143,000 euros between them.

“So it is the ultimate insult to see our homes collapse in the floods,” said Peter Chilvers, 58.

“After being stitched up by our lawyers and the developer and facing a huge 42,000 euro fine, we have been well and truly kippered.”

He and his wife Jacqueline Chilvers, 53, are being forced to move out of their dream home after it became dangerous to live in.

“We don’t want to move but we have no choice,” said father-of-three Peter, who has diabetes.

“New cracks are appearing in the walls every day, the drive has disappeared, the septic tank has fallen down the hill and the water supply has packed up.”

On top of that, they have been told that one more heavy spell of rain could lead to total collapse.

“What choice have we got? But rest assured at the end of all this we will be suing everyone, including our lawyers.”

As reported in the Olive Press last April, the Chilvers’ home was one of half a dozen built illegally in the area known as Paraje cerro de Ponton.

They only had licences for tool sheds

Each of the homes were built with only licences to build an ‘almacen de apero’, or tool shed.

Despite paying tens of thousands of euros to two well-known local law firms, the buyers insist they were never told that their homes would be illegal.

Their neighbours, antiques restorer Brian Miller, 59, and his partner Christine, 62, from Hertfortshire, have already abandoned ship.

The couple spent 175,000 euros building the retirement home of their dreams only to find themselves fined 51,000 euros from the Junta.

“I am absolutely gutted. We wanted this to be our dream escape in southern Spain, but it has all gone wrong.

“First of all we lost our drive, then cracks started appearing in the walls and in the ceiling. Finally the swimming pool started to cave in.

“Worst of all we don’t have any insurance as we didn’t buy any as the home was declared illegal.

“At times it feels like the stress will cause a heart attack. We have been ill advised by our first solicitors. It was the lawyers fault from the start and I hope they end up paying for it.

“You just don’t know who to trust in Spain. It is disgraceful.”

A third couple meanwhile, Peter and Lyn Joyce have also been forced to move out after the ground gave way and the roof and walls caved in.

The couple, who had been paying a 50,000 euro fine in instalments of 600 euros a month, are unlikely to receive any compensation or their money back.

As well as being fined 4,000 euros for putting up a pergola, they were also hit with a bill for a retaining wall, a chimney and even putting up a Venetian blind on their kitchen window.

“We were so scared they would put an embargo on our property, we just decided to pay,” Lyn explained last year.

“We feel so victimised. All we wanted was to be law abiding citizens in Spain and we have really paid the price.”

When the Olive Press approached two legal firms for a comment we were threatened with legal action.

The developer P3, which has since closed down, also refused to comment.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. OP: please name the two legal firms. If the people in question took all proper legal advice, and had all the paperwork notarised, then what do the OP have to fear? The lawyers clearly were advising the purchasers incorrectly, so they need to be named and shamed to allow others to avoid the same mistakes.

  2. Many legal firms have much to answer for in the Costas. If there is not a mind – shift in Spain soon more and more damage will deservedly be done to the economy.

    Confidence has been gravely eroded. The ostensibly easy-going Spanish charm which created the lucrative retirement property market has been seriously jeopardized. Robbery does that.

    The costas are already desecrated because planners, architects, speculators , law and lawyers have been unfit for their function; the once ‘organically’ constructed and aesthetically visual little villages have lost both outline and personality.

    The eye is assaulted by architecturally hideous blocks, pyramids and denture – like crescents with all the modern metalic traffic control paraphenalia; faceless steel barriers, poles, lights, ‘sleeping policemen’ and warning signs depersonalising the very rural character that people came to enjoy.

    Now in addition, unchecked by Juntas but encouraged and endorsed by Town Halls comes the legal blight with blame misdirected upon innocent residents who are often denied insurance through the fraudulence of others so the betrayal is complete.

    It is fortunate (though sad for the thousands of citizens who are at present scandalously victimised and traumatized) that all failed administrators eventually get their just deserts. A more mature and evolved management force is inevitable in Spain before too long.

    Let the public purse quickly compensate these citizens and let a newly appointed set of administrators set an example for a better future.

    No company is able to offer a proper affordable and adequate insurance in Spain in the present climate. The risks are too great. Legal and administrative untrustworthiness has seen to that.

    It is heartening that the causalties of these blights are now mobilising themselves and being assured that new faces will inevitably emerge to replace the redundant ones.

    The devious games – and names of the players – have been identified!

  3. No wonder so many people are leaving! The Spanish have interesting morals and a strange interpretation of what constitutes theft, which is what the fines in these cases was. Why didn’t the Junta go after the lawyers rather than the innocent buyers? Because they were Spanish, of course. Disgraceful, but so true to form!

  4. “Why didn´t the Junta go after the lawyers”?
    The answer may be in the following extract from a letter by a local Almanzora company whose director is subject to criminal proceedings for building and selling substandard illegal homes.
    “As directed by the Junta de Andalucia, Proyme, (Proyme Ingenieros Consultoria, S.L.) are to assist in the registration all of the properties in the area and ensure that where possible they are registered in the Catastral.
    The cost is to be met by each property owner. The cost incurred is €300 for a house and €200 for land. Totalling €500 per property”.
    Consider these are the same people nominated by local town halls to form an inspection team to provide an inventory of properties for the Junta de Andalucia.
    Now we have it, CORRUPTION and RACKETEERING indorsed by the very authorities who are hell bent in punishing the innocent victims of the “Spanish Property Scandal”

  5. It is always risky to build a house in a country that has complex regulations and laws that nobody understands and that can be interpreted in many different ways. However there are thousands of legally built properties for sale all over the Costa del Sol that are properly registered. Why buy off plan or risk a new build when you can buy something that is already there and that can be professionally suveyed?

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