3 Mar, 2012 @ 10:00
1 min read

British couple’s demolition heartbreak

A BRITISH couple have been left devastated after a court ruled their home must be demolished.

The three bedroom chalet in Albox, Almeria is to be pulled down despite having planning permission from the town hall, after the original building license was rescinded.

The couple built the property in 2002 using their life savings and had registered it with the Land Registry.

They narrowly avoided having their home demolished two years ago after successfully arguing they had not been made aware of legal proceedings.

James Bryce

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  1. Lets be honest about this, Spain is a corrupt country from the top down. Thousands of ue were mugged by the local, regional and central governments, there was (is) no control on the lawyers and builders so everyone said and did whatever they wanted without fear of retribution, and we fell for it all hook line and sinker.
    The only good that will come from this is that Spain will eventually reap the rewards from there actions, we may not be here to it, but I’m sure they will hang there heads, not in sorrow for those pensioners who lost their dreams, but in regret for the lost millions of Euros that will surely be going elsewhere.

  2. Zapatero was blind to the obvious, so was Rubalcaba and now Rajoy bleats on about the severity of the unemployment figure without it occurring to him that the reason why the construction sector is all but dead is that, no-one, neither Spaniard nor Foreigner has any trust in anyone connected with or involved in the sector. And now Soraya Santamaría has recently said that the demolitions due to the imposition of the Coastal Law will go ahead. Great stuff P.P.

  3. What were many of you syaing on another thread about how wonderful Spain is!!! Rose tinted glasses or what. Unbelievable how non estate agents could even try to defend what is going on in Spain. How can these people, government officials & lawyers sleep at night. Spain si rotten to the core. You would be better off in France.

  4. Reap….I suppose in the UK there are no such things as ‘brown envelopes’, corrupt/incompetent politicians, town halls acting without authority, illegal construction etc etc etc.

  5. found out about the spanish honesty last year 2011,nearly bought villa in hondon valley backed out at last minute,so sorry for the priors,the burns,and all the other decent folk caught up in the corruption by the greedy stupid spanish.paying for it now though.

  6. Amparo, please list all of the illegal homes and demolitions occuring anywhere in the UK, or indeed northern Europe. The UK has incompetant politicians, corrupt politicians, and more, but nothing on the level of Spain’s endemic corrupt culture.

  7. Fred … its just not true the majority of people in this horrible situation have licenses for toolsheds , workers refuges and barn even in blighty you cant build a villa with this license and live secure in it.
    corruption in Spain just appears endemic because it is public in the u.k its hidden till rupert murdoch finds out !!!!!

  8. Fred, I don’t have that information, but just for a moment consider how much the hilarious fiasco over the so called ‘travellers’ illegal constructions is costing the UK taxpayer. Countless millions. Now, would that happen here??. I don’t think so. They would be booted out, no questions asked and no human rights garbage.

    Now consider the number of clipboard merchants that swarm over the UK to police such issues. Who pays for that?. The taxpayer. Here in Spain, with a land surface many times more than that of the UK and considerably less box tickers, the task is almost impossible so people take advantage. Are you willing to fork out to pay for it??. No, of course not. It’s (regrettably) human nature to seek and exploit an opportunity. And foreigners have played a part in that process.

    The old stalwarts of the ‘soborno’ culture are slowly dying off (or being locked up) and it certainly is not, as you say ‘endemic’. Unfortunately as Brian say’s, central government have yet to smell the coffee because no-one has the cojones to challenge it (including the foreign voter. In all of the ‘tengo una pregunta para usted’ programmes, NOT ONE person posed (or was permitted to pose) a challenge to the guests over this issue. So, who’s fault is that??.

  9. Apart from the obvious problem,ie.Spain being MORE corrupt than Russia now,there is the singular one with the UK Government REFUSING POINT BLANK to assist in any way ex-pats with problems they have in Spain with illegal property issues?
    I recently wrote to Nick Clegg twice(no reply) then contacted the Brit.Embassy in Madrid re its’ position,if two ex-pat pensioners were made homeless, and literally thrown on the street due to a what amounted to a Local Council decision, resulting in the alteration of the classification of the land meant their home was demolished?
    I stressed it was a Local Council decision, NOT National Law and was just something made-up off the hoof so to speak. The Embassy used and referred to the now infamous old cop-out that the UK Government use to avoid helping its’ citizens which was very conveniently written into the Articles of the Human Rights Act of “not doing anything to interfere in the internal laws of a Member State or Fellow Signatory to the Act”.

  10. If you have a problem is because there is something wrong with your paperwork. Maybe you have a legal licence to build something on your land, but in the end, the promoter didn’t built what the licence permitted. If the license was legal, the Town Hall hasn’t got any type of responsibility. If, on the other hand, the license was illegal, and the Town Hall let you build something that was forbidden, you can demand damages and responsibility of the Town Hall.

  11. Your funny Moya, one could hire and pay you for say 5-10 years then get zip all for great advise and service provided …… in other words lose your home and pay a clown to make you feel better.

    Auuuuuuu only a lawyer could invent his own life so brilliantly.

  12. Amparo, you could be a spin Doctor, but not a very good one. I think you are on your own here and going against all common sense. All countries have corruption, but Spain has about the same amount as Iraq and Afghanistan. I do not know of anyone who has had their house knocked down in the UK. Things have changed over the years and people are aware of what is going on in Spain. Even last week on UK TV they were showing the problems Brits face in Spain with their properties potentially going to be knocked down. For the uneducated, people do not go and buy a property on a shed licence, the solicitors and estate agents tell them that all is fine and then the brits go ahead. They don’t understand the Spanish language and of course we normally trust the solicitors as solicitors in the UK do not act like thieves, as they do in Spain. Don’t use the solicitor the estate agent recommends, that may give you some protection but best of all don’t bother buying in Spain. Even with title deeds your house can be knocked down, just as happened with the Prior’s.
    23% unemployment and rising. Carry on as you are Spain and it will only get worse. People power rules. Many people would also spend money on extensions but the Town Halls want corruption money before they approve it, and then would the permit be legal? I have been there. Came back to civilisation in the UK.

  13. Fred,..Ignorance? I think not. My assertion was, that without adequate policing of planning issues, which costs money (which no-one is prepared to pay), then corruption and ineptitude are a certainty. And…in that environment anyone launching into buying or building a property is potential fodder for those so inclined. Building on land where it’s category (as defined by the Junta, as opposed to the local mayor ) has any hint of doubt then a disaster becomes a distinct possibility. As the unfortunate Priors and many others have sadly found out……….. And you know as well as I do that so many people have purchased or built property in ignorance of the pitfalls (or deliberately ignored them) thinking that Andalucía is still the backwater where, if you keep your head down, no-one will notice.

  14. amparo
    You have got it in ONE spain is a backwater country with backwater laws,being in the eurozone you would have thought that by now they would have updated their laws to northeren standards ie;Germany;France;Holand, soon be 33% unemployed by end off year !

  15. Amaparo, Spain has a culture of doing deals of the side, backhanders and brown envelopes are the norm. Nepostism is rife and who you know is the key to getting ahead in life. These are all things which are absolutely normal in Spain.

    The Priors paperwork is all in order, as are the people who belong to SOHA, AUAN et al. Where was the Junta when the town halls were giving out licenses? Yes, you really are pig ignorant lol.

  16. @ Reap – yr just a little englander, so it’s good that you are back in ‘civilized’UK with all the crime and violence and poverty, and corrupt politics – see todays ‘cash for access’ resignation anyone?
    @ Fred – yr an xpat bore, get yerself something else to do rather than drone on and on with yr lap top.
    finger wagging from atop a high horse is just the stuff of dullards, go find some poor soul in a expat bar to bore the hell out of.

  17. The truth does hurt and Fred is telling the truth. I wish Spain would wake up otherwise the unemployment rate will increase even more and there will be a lot of civil unrest in the Country. They cannot be far off of that now.

  18. Fred, please try and be just a little more civilised in your comments directed towards me (and others). I am NOT ‘pig ignorant’.

    If you really are so naive as to believe the UK is free of scurrilous goings on then you should maybe take out a subscription for (for example) Private Eye. On the occasions I have picked one up at an airport it seems to me that the UK is a whole lot worse than here.

    Of course there are unjustified demolitions taking place (and a whole lot more that ARE justified), and of course the politicians still haven’t woken up to the link between building license issues and unemployment. But why do you assume that all these issues are the exclusive problem of foreigners?. If you care to look at the t.v. reporting you would know that that there are far more Spanish victims.

    I never suggested any issue with the Priors’ paperwork. I posed the suggestion that, if the buildability of the land was in any way doubtful (and being in the campo that was a real possibility), why didn’t the acting lawyer check with Sevilla and get a definitive response in writing before accepting the local mayors decision?. It’s all academic now after the event I know, but I’m sure the same query exists with others.

    It is well known that here, it’s up to the applicant to find out (in triplicate). It’s not up to the decision makers to voluntarily inform. Wrong it may be, but that’s how it is.

  19. Pat D, life is better for me in the UK as I have to earn money, and that is a difficult thing to do in Spain if you are an honest person as I am. It is probably and hopefully getting more difficult for the dishonest people as well, like many solicitors, Town Hall officials and estate agents. I do not have to pay the Town Hall corruption money either in the UK, other than over £2k a year council tax… Not sure if I would ever retire to Spain. I have not experienced any crime either in the UK, but I know a British neighbour in Spain that has been robbed so many times he has had to have a security Company monitor his house inside and out remotely via CCTV. 40 euros a month for that service. Even when he is inside the house they can watch him and take photos. The last time his property was broken into (before his CCTV was installed) they cleared all of his white goods out and down to the cutlery. There is corruption everywhere but not on the scale that Spain has it. At least when I go to bed I know my house is not going to be knocked down.
    Spain, keep on doing what you are doing and watch it go downhill. People do not want to buy a place in Spain now as they could be made homeless and have no cash to buy another house back in the UK. I am quite adventurous but I would not risk buying a property there knowing what I know now. You can’t sell anything in Spain now unless you almost give it away.
    Bad news regarding Spain is everywhere you look. The Priors will need to take their cause further afield with the media to have any chance.
    I can only think that people who have money to be made out of Spain would be trying to brush all of these problems aside as nonsense. Support is what people need not rose tinted glasses.

  20. The Brits were quick to exploit the Spanish housing market when they thought they could make a quick pound churning properties or renting out villas etc. However, their own greed led them into the clutches of Spaniards who were just as greedy, but a little more skillful at cheating. Of course everyone was trying to make a quick pound. The Brits are famous for not buying homes but looking for investments that they think the locals havent seen. I believe that the people who bought to rent, to churn etc. deserve all the bad luck they get. I do feel sorry for people who bought houses to live in.

  21. FYI – My wife and I were looking to buy a house in France (for retirement), but my daughter said why not think about Spain its a great country with very nice people (and I agree), so we started to look at property in Spain – but with regret we have reverted back to France (some may say good) as there is much confusion at present regarding buying property in Spain and to be honest I am not sure who you can trust within the legal system and the agents who are trying to sell you a property – until you can trust these people the property in Spain will just keep going down as no one will buy and sorry to say, but this will have further detrimental impact of the economy in Spain…. Every country across the globe needs external money (big or small) put in to it.

  22. Moya Marin Abogados
    How many letters do you have after you name ?
    Nearly 3 months and still no reply, that send’s out dubious signals regarding the legal situation in spain

  23. i applied and paid for all building licences , and even had the spanish equevelant to building control employed after all paperwork was complete that was back in 2001 , now in 2012 my
    house in andalucia is totally illegal how does that work , and i can assure you my want for a home in spain was not for money making it was for enjoyment but spain put a stop to that !

  24. Your comment would be more interesting (and more informative) if you were to outline briefly the basis upon which your home has now been declared illegal and by whom.

  25. @Moya Marin Abogados. You obviously only come to spain for holidays. Speak to anyone who has tried to get a license. After jumping through a silly amount of hoops, and paying all sorts of bogus fees, you’ll get a piece of paper that becomes useless within days. thats how it is.
    Over in Chiclana (summer population 300 thousand!) the whole town was rezoned as un-urbanizable. Thats right, the whole town became illegal!! And it was because the local government was sticking-it to central government. Of course, the locals didnt give a damn as they dont pay any taxes anyway.

  26. Pandora, how did the British make Spain reach bankruptcy? How did they cause the endemic corruption? How did they cause some of the worst child poverty in Europe, the worst unemployment levels in Europe etc. Please do tell.

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