28 Feb, 2012 @ 10:00
1 min read

Save our home

A BRITISH couple who spent 200,000 euros renovating their dream home have been ordered to convert it back to a farm shed after authorities ruled it was built illegally.

John and Jenny Harvey, from Yorkshire, must also pay an 81,000 euro fine for carrying out work on the two-bedroom, converted farm building in Lanjaron.

The desperate couple, who insist they have all the paperwork to prove the property is legal, have turned to the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to save their home.

The property – bought in 2003 for 25,000 euros – was initially due to be demolished in February 2008 because the work violated the terms of the planning permission.

The couple were forced to move back to the UK in July 2008 due to ill health caused by the stressful situation. But after being reassured by Lanjaron Council last October that the house would not be demolished, the Harvey’s were informed last month that they must convert it back to its original use.

“It has ruined our lives. We are totally innocent but are being persecuted,” 62-year-old Jenny, told the Olive Press.

“We are now on the poverty line. We do not have any money to pay fines or have any work carried out on the property.

“We have applied to the court in Brussels but have been told that it could be years before we know if we can even appeal.

“We have also been in contact with Europe Minister David Lidington who is looking into the case,” the former legal executive added.

“We know everything was conducted underhand and we are the victims of deceit, fraud and theft.”

James Bryce

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  1. I think the full story has not been told here .
    1. what did the town hall obra major allow them to do ?
    2. did they use a lawyer and sign at the notary .
    3. how is it possible to build a house without anyone realising it couldnt be there.

  2. We don’t appear to know the full story but it’s quite obviously a racist decision. I can point out at least three buildings in this area, all Spanish owned, one; a bungalow, officially a stable, two; a huge extension of two storeys, no planning, but given an agricultural licence when completed, three; a “garage” erected just two years back, complete with TV aerial and services.
    All this pales into insignificance when that vast hotel at Cabo de Gata with dubious planning consents is considered, but here the Government will spend 300,000,000 euros of taxpayers money for its demolition!!
    But you can’t win, Jenny and John, you’re not Spanish, not crooked and haven’t got pots of money. The powers-that-be will spend any amount to put you down.
    I’d move all your belongings back to civilisation, and throw in a couple of sticks of gelignite, let them clear it all up. You’d be better treated in the Congo!

  3. Sam – it’s easy to build a house that isn’t meant to be there when the developers and the council planners are all in bed together. There are thousands of illegal properties on the Costa del Sol – the licences were paid for.

  4. Sam,
    go to back issues and look before spouting off. This couple did everything that they could to make sure that their purchase and subsequent building work was legal.

    The mistake they made was to trust those who were supposed to uphold Spanish Law but these corrupt officials only interest was in lining their own pockets.

  5. You are correct when you say I havent read the back issues however to my mind the answer was in the olive press report ” covert it back to a farm shed “. Not every shed , toolshed or workers shelter can be made into a residence at the new owners whim.
    There is however a procedure in Spain and if this couple HAVE adhered to it and have obtained the necessary paperwork then they must get the town hall into court for fraud . legal aid is available in Spain despite what people tell you !

    So Mr Crawford I am not spouting off I am reading the article provided in the context stated and commenting accordingly.

  6. Sam,
    you are spouting off because had you bothered to read the back issues you would have seen that they did everything they could to make sure that what they were doing is legal.

    You then couple spouting off by suggesting that the Harveys’ waste money they no longer have to go through the totally corrupt Spanish legal system, which will only mean that the lawyers come out on top again.

    You’ve blabbed a load of nonsense and try to get out from under quoting context of the article – I wonder how you would cope if you were in the position of the Harveys – not very well methinks

  7. Mr Crawford obviously you where off school they day they taught reading ” legal aid is available in Spain” LEGAL AID IS PROVIDED FREE BY THE COLLEGIO DE ABOGADOS TO THOSE IN GENUINE NEED . Please highlight the area where I suggested they paid a lawyer . Furthermore not every legal professional in Spain is corrupt not every law is biased against the ex pat . Why the hell do you live here if its so bad , I am sick of whinging brits who sit in bars all day laughing about black money and brown envelopes and then start crying when it all falls apart for them.
    You know nothing of Spain or her laws and therefore feel that you can simply build what you want where you want ,when you want .Colonialism is dead my friend you must respect the country you live in and the planning laws .
    I say it now clear and open I have had property problems because I didnt obey the rules but I paid my costs apologised and accepted my error and thanked the people who assisted me in my time of trouble .
    I didnt demand Spain changed for me I changed for Spain.

  8. the law in spain is a joke….! Justice is just not a known factor…unless you have power & wealth…and then you may appear in court..but not much will happen…but if poor and foreign..heaven help you..! lawyers..mmmm not to be trusted on the whole..so..?? buy through a bank and let them do the legal searches and paperwork and then..maybe you will be safeguarded…but only just maybe…! I have experienced fruad / theft because of a lawyer..have denounced him to the Policia Nacional, the Colegio de Abogados… and…. nada … !!! LouieLou..you say respect the planning laws…but if the very spaniards don’t respect them…and the town halls also ignores them….where does that leave a trusting expat..?… It’s high time Spain took a long hard look at itself and put it’s house in order. It’s not for nothing that Spain finds itself in this current situation…!

  9. louie lou,
    you write as if YOU have been sitting in the bar for too long.

    I have direct experience of how corrupt the Spanish legal system is on two occasions and neither were to do with property.

    So you came unstuck because you engaged in illegal activities LOL.

    We did live in Spain in two completely different regions.

    What a really stupid statement you make about me knowing nothing of Spanish law or trying to build with out consents – it just makes you sound like a drunk on a rant.

    When we saw the reality of life in Spain – we left, the tradegy for us was that forums like the Olive Press simply did’nt exist BEFORE we came to Spain, otherwise we would’nt have wasted the most valuable possession of all – time.

    How many times have I seen posts by people who were so grateful for the info on this site that determined that they would never live in Spain – unless it changed beyond recognition.

    We never lived on or anywhere near the self imposed Brit ghettos – so we have never sat in a bar getting blotto with expats – is that all you are a basketcase of assumptions – now calm down and have another drink.

  10. I agree with all the negative things said here. They should serve as good information to the uninformed and people who ask how it is possible etc.
    I have seen even the most positive people come to reality after a few years. There are thousands of people in the same situation as these two. The lawyers, the estate agents and the Mayors are all taking back handers from each other. My estate agent and the solicitor had €20k euros between themselves when I purchased one of my properties. When you have those sums of money involved on every property or the ability to hand out fines of these types of sums then you have widespread corruption. Planning decisions should be taken at regional level and not by the local corrupt Town Hall.
    Spain is a complete joke. There are a lot of things people do not know about Spain, such as your relatives have to care for you in Hospital when not in A & E, nuclear bombs were dropped in Southern Spain in the 60’s and some land is contaminated, the tap water in certain areas is radioactive, The Priors had the title deeds to their house and the Regional Government knocked it down as they did not agree with the Town Halls permit…. It is a mess. Multiply that by thousands of property owners who have put their life savings into property and have no 2nd houses back in the UK then you have a massive problem. Stress is a killer and brings on my ailments. The sunny weather soon dissipates when these problems arrive at your door. Other than good weather and the food you can grow form this there is nothing much good about Spain. Don’t ask about broad band speeds! Most will say what broad band.

  11. Yes Have a good laugh I engaged in building an extension without the correct license , I had to pay a fine and engage an architect wow ! what a spiteful old man you are laughing at the stupidity of the english ex pat! I dont sit in bars all day I work and contribute to the economy I live in .

    If you are incapable of conducting a discussion like an adult then may I suggest you remove yourself from forums where adults debate points and get back to your crayons .

  12. Do you all think Spanish locals and officials in Spain see buildings going up & town halls don’t know it’s going on or something? So many negative whinging Brits in Spain, and on here, it makes me sick! My neighbour hates the Spanish but lives here. The Spanish people are great! it’s just the beaurocracy of this country that is plain wrong and we must continue to fight it. What’s wrong with coming to this country and enjoying ‘life in the sun’ – living the dream… People (sarcastic miserable Brits) need to go BACK to the UK.. to the cold & rain!!!! and leave the rest of us to enjoy our lives taking it easier in this lovely sunny climate, learning Spanish and enjoying relations with the Spanish people!

  13. There is going to be a queue Jim, who will gently explain how dodgy that indubitably beautiful country is. What you want and are presently enjoying is what most disappointed, disillusioned, victims of Spanish bureaucracy, thought they’d bought, till the roof fell in.

  14. the moaning and bitching brits juat make you laugh. bleet bleet bleet with no thought of the irony, they bitch about foreigners ruining the U.K (you couldnt make it up could you?) corruption and everything else morning noon and night whilst so many of them are in spain avoiding tax with every breath they have. and their beloved U.K – corrupt politicians on the take from big business and cheating with their expenses, vulgar trashy tabloid press that ruin peoples lives (much bought by the brits in spain) and a uk system that screws the poor to pay the rich, corrupt bankers and all. you little englanders really need to leave the empire days behind… if you hate spain and the spanish so much then just go home to england and leave us that very much value spanish life and culture to enjoy it – you wont be missed and at least then i wont be embarrassed at speaking english in public in case a local thinks i’m one of you bleeting Sun readers.

  15. I did go back to he UK and I never knew what I missed until I lived in Spain.No 23% unemployment here and of course there is corruption everywhere, but not on the scale of Spain. How wonderful Spain is, tell that to the people who have a house under threat of demolition.

  16. Reap. Planning decisions ARE taken at regional level and that’s what people have ignored. Every area has its Regionally approved PGOU and development must comply with that to be legal. If the town hall issues licences that don’t agree with the PGOU then they are not legal. It’s as easy as that and buyers and their advisors should always check that before proceeding with any property purchase or development in the campo.

  17. louie lou
    You are wrong, Spainish legal system is corrupt, has been since 1985 [when we first arrived] you would think that by now and being in the eurozone the corrupt laws would have been updated and made fair for all concerned , but afraid not so,and spain will now suffer from this deceit, as northern europiens and british people will not purchase property there untill it is sorted out, but do not hold your breath !

  18. Law of 12 january 2012, these people will find that their house has just been “Saved” as even if it is illegal It cannot be pulled down. Al that happens is that on their deeds it will say that it is illegal. They can maintain but not improve or enlarge it. Get the lawyer to look at theis Get Out Clause, that has just been enacted.

  19. I’m a little late to this post. But it has made interesting reading. I lived in Spain for 4 years, I worked and learnt the language. I was lucky and didn’t buy a house, I also never had my name on bills. Two incidences that stick out in my mind. My Spanish boyfriend of the time ordered a skip to get rid of the old bathroom. A local working for the town hall saw the skip and told him he had to have permission for the skip but because it was him that was ok. He also applied to get the bathroom redone but started building it before the permission came through, that was ok also. I know that if it was anyone other than a local Spaniard this wouldn’t have been allowed. I’ve heard too many stories of expats not given permission for similar things. Spain is corrupt and that is that

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