By Alex Iszatt and Brian Sherwood, in Cantoria
TWO more British families have seen their dreams turned to dust after their properties were demolished in Almeria.
Lawyers and expat associations all expressed their outrage after the owners saw their investments tumbled into the ground with no sign of compensation.
In what could constitute a human rights abuse, the pair – thought to be Frank Doke and Peter Hegarty – had been given just 30 days to remove their possessions from their homes, in Cantoria, before the bulldozers moved in.
They had never been offered any alternative accommodation by the Junta, which ordered the action.
And this despite buying the homes from a Spanish developer in good faith nearly a decade ago.
The two owners, fearing yesterday’s events, had already moved back to the UK and given up all hope that the dream of a retirement home in the sun would be fulfilled.
Two near neighbours, also both English, were also expecting their homes to be knocked down at any time.
Asking to remain anonymous, one told the Olive Press: “We have never received any compensation – we would just like to get our money back and be able to have a bit of a life as this has gone on for eight years now.
“My health has suffered and I have had two heart attacks due to all the stress.”
Similar to the Priors, who saw their home knocked down in nearby Vera in 2008, the group had unsuspectingly bought their homes from a developer FPM, who had constructed them in 2004 without a licence.
It has been claimed that all four houses built in the Las Terrenas area were unofficially signed off by former mayor Peter Llamas – who has since been sentenced to two years in prison and 23 months’ disqualification from public office for his involvement in the case.
Llamas had certainly given permission to supply the electricity and water to the homes – even though official planning permission had not been given.
Construction had not even begun when the Junta opened an investigation against the builder following a complaint to the Guardia Civil.
But this did not stop the builders continuing to develop the property and a year later they sold them to the unsuspecting Brits.
The owners of the company are reported to be awaiting sentence over the case and have been ordered to pay the homeowners compensation for the loss of their homes.
According to sources however, they have now declared themselves and the company bankrupt.
Cantoria Town Hall lawyer Alfredo Najas meanwhile denied the fault lay at its door.
“We had never given the homes proper planning permission,” he insisted. “We regret the decision of the Junta – it will bring further ruin to the area because the British are not going to trust anyone to purchase homes in Almeria.”
And he is not alone. Philip Smalley, President of homeowners rights group SOHA, in the Axarquia, added: “We totally condemn the Junta. The homeowners were not the guilty party, the promoter was, so how can you demolish a person’s home without first ensuring that they have somewhere else to live and that appropriate compensation has been paid?
“Once again the government of Andalucia tarnishes the image of Spain abroad.”
Illegal home campaigner Maura Hillen, from AUAN, added: “These people have invested more than €3million in Spain and in return they are being treated disgracefully by a system that simply does not protect them.
“I am sorry to say that this is not an isolated case. Many thousands of illegal homeowners will now continue to live in fear of demolition. This has made matters worse”.
“mayor Peter Llamas – who has since been sentenced to two years in prison and 23 months’ disqualification from public office”
So the mayor can return to his pocket-lining, life-destroying, evil greedy ways BEFORE he even gets out of prison?
And ignoramuses continue to defend spain from its deservedly stinking reputation.
Cheating,lying,stealing and back handers are endemic in the Spanish beaurocratic set up. I worked as an architect and builder in Andalucia. It did not take long to learn the tricks of the trade…..ask how much to achieve a process, pay up, get a receipt, then do it. Confirm everything in writing and keep letter registration receipts. However it did not stop me from being robbed of all my equipment (enough to build a small hotel)from a locked warehouse.I left forthwith.
Although the houses were unofficially signed off, they were still built without a licence. It makes me wonder what these peoples lawyer did when they bought the house. When we were looking at houses, checking building licences was one of the first things she did and, on several occasions found either faults with licences or no licence at all. It seems to me that the lawyers that represented the owners in this article didn’t do a proper job and have questions to answer.
The amazing thing is that mayors are allowed to come back in to power after they have been convicted. The mayor of Alhaurin said just this week that he’ll be back after his one year ban from office is over. I’m sure Peter Llamas will also be back in charge when his ban has expired. These bans from office should be permenant. The gall of these people is incredible, but then again the laws are just totally useless. Spain simply does not know how to draft proper laws.
Just look at the Malaya case verdicts, which coincidentally the Olive Press seemed to have airbrushed out of history (Jon?) – where the sentences were pathetic. Ok, the new corruption laws are stricter, but all of these cases send the message to the World that Spain is the place to come to if you want to engage in corruption and then get away with it, and even get your old job back!
Well, Peter Llamas (actually ‘Pedro’), like any other mayor, wants to bring prosperity to his village. People want to build houses, sell them to foreigners, create jobs, pay municipal licences. Foreigners bring cash to the community, buy cars, furniture, keep the local bars and restaurants open during the winter months.
Later (much later), some f**kwit from Seville wants to put an end to all of that, return the village to its moribund state? What is a mayor to think!
Well Lenox, it is quite simple really. He should think that these plans are good ideas and good for his area. He should then ensure that all is done legally so that any benefit is long term. By not doing so, not only is he suffering the consequences but his village now has a bad name and will suffer accordingly. I just hope all mayors now realise that the only way is the legal way. Unfortunately I don’t think it will happen.
Villages prospering whilst homeowners who bought in good faith are then evicted doesn’t sound very fair. It is common knowledge that foreigners are often easy pickings for these schemes. This vicious circle can only be broken with proper laws, proper enforcement and justice/compensation.
why should’nt the construction industry revive in Andalucia and a lot of other parts of Spain – rapidly depleting water supplies and the answer is’nt de-salinated water, check out the cost.
Two more headlines in the UK papers today:
One from a while ago:
Unfortunately Spain is not the only country that cashes in on unsuspecting foreign investors/home buyers. France has their urbanization laws, which means the local government can demand you pay for a new hospital/school and roads (or whatever), or force you to sell your new home to pay for the costs. The solution is simple…Don’t Buy Abroad, just rent. Spend the UK summers in the UK, and UK winters abroad. You could even travel around the world seeing different places if you want to, and rent out your home in the UK to help pay for it. At worst, you will lose relatively small amounts when you’re being mugged abroad, but that’s better than losing your life savings/pension/home init. Happy days!
2 familias inglesas que vuelven a su tierra…por Navidad.
Reply to meparto, I work with Spanish people in South London, suprise suprise, and guess what, are very embarrassed to your sarcastic racist remark about the couple having there Home demolished, But what would you expect
have you been at the wacky baccy – I’ve never heard such nonsense. How do I know because I now live in France.
If you had made that statement about Valencia it would have been true and even that scam ceased a few years ago.
There are +/- 500.000 illegal houses in Spain, most of them developed by British desarrolladores and British inmobiliarias.
You will always have that risk when you want to take advantage of building / buying illegal houses, which are causing a real disaster in the ecology and paisaje of the costas.
Those houses should not be there, the only way to solve the problem is demolishing them
About compensations, they will have to ask for them to the developers.
Bluemoon, Brit-bashing is the easy path. The vast majority of illegal properties are bought in good faith, and have all the paperwork from the authorities. Also, this article mentions a Spanish developer. Your reply is not addressing the real issue, which is corruption in the Spanish system. Read the article again. Where did you get your figures from btw? A guess?
And, in case of insolvence of the developers, to the Spanish State.
“There are +/- 500.000 illegal houses in Spain, most of them developed by British desarrolladores and British inmobiliarias.”
Bluemoon, where did you get those statistics please? Or did you just make them up?