THE Junta de Andalucia is set to demolish two more British-owned homes in Cantoria, Almeria.

Two houses in the village of Las Terrenas have already been demolished and the town’s former mayor arrested for lying about his involvement with the properties.

The two detached houses were judged to have been built on undeveloped land without the required paperwork.

The former mayor Pedro Llamas is currently serving a two year prison sentence for lying about authorising water and electricity supplies to the four properties.

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119 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly what do they hope to achieve by demolishing these houses? How do they think it help to kickstart the collapsed property market and stagnant economy? Have they any idea how much damage this will do to their already poor image?

    There is nothing kind, caring or cuddly about the PSOE-led Junta de Andalucia who claim to the be party of the “poor, oppressed, little people”. They are more than happy to violate human rights and leave these British owners (who bought in good faith using lawyers) broke, homeless and forced to go back to the UK and stay with relatives. I wonder if the Junta offered to re-house them – no thought not.

    The Junta de Andalucia said they were going to stop demolishing houses and legalise most of the so-called illegal properties yet they go ahead and demolish these two houses. How do they think that demolishing these houses at this point in time will convince anyone that the supposed new law can be trusted? What reason is there for anyone to trust the Spanish legal system and why would anyone want to risk buying property in Spain?

    As I said in a previous post, they must think that Brits have got “mug” tattooed across their foreheads. Far too many people have bought properties in good faith and lost everything through no fault of their own.

    This story will hit the UK press soon and Spain will get yet another drubbing.

  2. They DON’T CARE Jane. For many Spanish these demolitions are a vote-winner, which is all the two parties are bothered about.
    Ex-pats can’t affect the establishment with a vote.
    There are plenty of potential foreign mugs, waiting in the wings, who don’t have even the Olive Press to enlighten them.

  3. yes brits are mugs for not looking in to what they were buying correctly. if the house was built illegally then it wouldnt have the correct paper work surely. tho in my eyes they should be able to get their money back off the original developer or who ever sold them the house. its a bit wrong the only people who really suffer are those that bought the house.

  4. Dom: you obviously are new to this subject. It has been made clear many times that “correct paperwork” is no protection from demolition in so many cases. Bent lawyers, estate agents, local mayors and planners, all in cahoots, to, put bluntly, rip innocent, trusting people off.
    It’s more than “a bit wrong” mate.

  5. The spectre of the ecologists hangs over all these illegal homes. The PSOE needs the IU/Los Verdes to hold power in Andalucía. What a sweet and pleasant image ecologists have! Even if they are without a clue about the real life. Unemployment in the barren and useless hinterland of Almería is huge. There’s no money, no jobs and their leaders are in jail. As the Ecologistas en Acción chairperson might have said: ‘let them eat caca’.

  6. Did the buyers have a lawyer acting for them? That’s who the house owner should be going after for negligent advice? The Junta should be going after the people who made money from the sale of the property and its construction – the former owner, the technical building team, the contractor, etc. They will all have known that the construction wasn’t legal. The buyers knowledge when they bought should also be looked at. Follow the money and penalise those who made money out of the illegal building.Jane is correct – there’s no benefit to anyone in the demolition.

  7. Well said Lenox, that just about sums up this barking mad situation. I wonder how the ecologists would like the bulldozers to be powered for next week’s demolitions? Perhaps they should be wind-powered.

    dom, you haven’t got a clue, do your homework, it just doesn’t work like that. The Junta de Andalucia retrospectively changed the law and moved the goal posts meaning it was absolutely impossible for people to be protected by the law or by having the “correct paperwork”. They used lawyers, went through the correct procedures, obtained permission but it was not worth the paper it was written on. Your simplistic view of this situation is dangerous and misleading to others.

    Stefanjo, I wrote to my MEP and he takes your view. A cross-party group of our MEPs tackled the Spanish MEPs in Brussels – following thousands of letters from constituents who are victims – but apparently they were just very embarrassed and had very little to say. If you are right about it being a vote winner with the Spanish then one has to question what sort of a place this is. Perhaps you can expand on that point for us.

    You are also right about more mugs waiting in the wings to be abused (a view also held by my MEP), but I would say that the Spanish authorities need to watch it. This newspaper is read by thousands of people everywhere – I know of regular readers in Australia – and it is safe to say that demolition horror stories and useless, unworkable laws are now synonymous with Spain.

  8. If it does go ahead make sure you have everything recorded for the UK TV channels. You may not get anything back but it will cost them 100’s of millions in publicity. Before and after recordings as well. These authorities will cross the wrong person one day, maybe someone who will not just sit there and take it, enough said.

  9. The Cantoria criminal builders, landowners, politicians, including Pedro Llamas, receive laughable punishments such as not to build again, or hold office for a couple of years with only suspended prison sentences, and petty cash fines, despite committing the same crimes time and again. They sold properties at urban prices for rustic land, and pocketed tax free the difference.

    Gus,to suggest going after the lawyers involved, easier said than done, not to mention expense, time wasting appeals, and a considerable time to arrive at an uncertain outcome, for most cases it would be good money thrown after bad. These in the most case were individuals, not a group practice of lawyers, where liability insurance is minimal.

    If there was any Spanish justice, the judiciary/Country itself would be questioning each individual Abogados involvement, along with taking to task the crooked Notaries involved, or freezing assets of the corrupt many. But they will not, as there is too much inbreeding of corruption in the country.

  10. As soon as you hear a Spanish official saying that there would be NO MORE demolitions as we recently did you just knew that some prize Spanish idiot would make sure that they did continue!

    There are some very nasty, vindictive people within the Spanish establishment. As for these detestable people being compassionate…they don’t understand the meaning of that word as they try to do even more harm to the Spanish economy, having already lost more millions in potential house sales than they could ever let their small minds imagine.

    The Spanish judicial system can be unbelievably abysmal and some would say highly corrupt. The mayor was given 2 years prison sentence in a Country where a sentence of 2 years or less you don’t go to prison! So he really gets away with it leaving the Brits to have their houses demolished. SHAME on you Spain….at times you are not humane.

  11. The Spanish sell houses to foreigners but they don’t actually want them to live in them. One of our English neighbours was denounced because a wall
    was a couple of millimetres higher than the regulations. It had stood there for years when owned by a Spanish family!

  12. Why not see if the affected houses can have a UK TV channel there now, pile the pressure on them. The AUAN must have a long list of people who like to be in the programme? We see these programmes about how good it is to buy abroad, there must be demand to see the realities. Take the fight to them, get on the phone, make some cold calls, get some appointments going, don’t sit there waiting for the slow motion train crash.

  13. Gus, there is only one thing we want the Junta de Andalucia to do and that is to LEGALISE THE AFFECTED PROPERTIES IMMEDIATELY.

    There is no other solution to this problem, which the Junta created in the first place, and any other course of action i.e. going after lawyers (yes, they did use lawyers) is completely pointless and will give the wretched Junta an excuse to do nothing for years. They need to stop faffing about, tell the waste of space environmentalists to bog off and sort it out now.

    This could all so easily be resolved tomorrow but the parties concerned are too thick to realise how much damage they are causing – the Priors’ demolition will turn out to be the most expensive demolition in history. The cost to their economy and international reputation is immeasureable and it will be very hard for them to find a way back from this.

    John is right, this is unhumane and if I was Spanish I would be both embarrassed and ashamed by this third world behaviour.

  14. Reap, why do that? You therefore penalise the 1,000’s of people who have bought sensibly in Spain and are enjoying it as they should. It’s extremely rare for there to be a situation like this where demolition is ordered and it can only be because the property is in a dangerous or specially protected area. All this energy is spent going against the faceless Junta and the Courts, when all they are doing, very belatedly, is enforcing the laws and regulations that are made for the good of us all. Very belatedly and that’s why there are these social problems. However, all this energy by owners, AUAN and the like should be direct towards the ‘faces’ that are known to have benefited from each corrupt deal. The individual landowners and their families, politicians, lawyers, architects, technical architects, estate agents, bank managers, notaries, etc involved should firstly be blacklisted and that information put for all to see. Picket their offices and homes and not the offices of the Junta and Courts. Keep it legal to keep the moral high ground. Then, if the authorities won’t do it, there should be private prosecutions taken against them leading to their assets being embargoed while the case is fought and then seized as compensation when it is won. Yes it takes years and money and energy, but theirs is blame and they should be brought to social justice. Follow the money, affect their future business and get personal. It’s the only way you’ll have any justice.

  15. There’s lots of “shoulds” in your comment Gus, but no “how to’s” that could sensibly be pursued. Reap and I don’t often see eye to eye (eye eye Reap) But at least he offers a way to highlight this criminality, where you just sound like someone who doesn’t want to make waves, being a bit anxious about your own situation perhaps? It’s the Junta and courts who have the POWER to actually change things, of course they are the ones to chase. It’s not that people have bought “sensibly” they have just been lucky. So far.

  16. Gus, you say it penalises the people who bought sensibly if they were legalised. What makes you think the Priors and others now facing demolishings didn’t buy sensibly?? They did everything correctly, used Lawyers etc. the only thing lacking was a crystal ball!

    It is easy to say take out private prosecutions etc. you demonstrate a lack of knowledge of Spanish law. Then there is the fact that many who do win their cases never actually get paid out….hollow victories.

  17. No Jane, the properties were built illegally and should remain so, unless the urban envelope is expanded. The Junta should not be bullied into granting an amnesty and those that acted illegally should have to live with that. The Junta is to blame for lack of supervision of Ayuntamientos and ignoring all the illegal activity that everyone knew about. They are to blame for taking action much too slowly as they and the Ayuntamientos should have stopped the construction way before it was completed.
    However, the humane answer is the one proposed, which is to ‘regularise’ the property, so that it still has the stigma of being illegal, but the property owners can still live there with all the services. They have to comply with all the building regulations before getting the ‘regularised’ certificate. If not the poor and sometimes unsafe construction will just be sold on to some poor sucker in the future.
    That can’t apply to the properties that have been built in specially protected land or in unsafe location, such as ‘dry’ river beds. A major reason why we are all here is because of the beauty of the landscape and to have that selfishly blighted by individuals building just where they wanted and ‘to hell with everyone else’ must not be permitted. It’s like graffiti on the landscape.

  18. Jane, the Junta didn’t create it; its the fault of the people who built the property illegally. The rules were there and applied to everyone. Ignorance of them, ‘buying in good faith’ is not an excuse – that’s why professionals are involved and if they ignored them they should be penalised as I said before.

  19. If there are demolitions the Junta should offer full compensation. Surely both sides would be happy. I agree a lot of the countryside has been fouled by these urbanisations, every mountain side in Axarquia appears to have a villa plonked on top and everywhere looks like Blackpool illuminations in the evening.

  20. Brian, why on earth should the Junta offer compensation? They set the rules and people ignored them and built houses where they shouldn’t. It’s that simple. That would be like somebody stealing your car, it breaking down and then you have to compensate them for that. Daft.

  21. Gus, your argument is seriously flawed here. It is the responsibility of the Junta de Andalucia to police the region they were elected to govern and they failed. What were they doing for 10-15 years while all these thousands of so-called illegal properties were being built? Don’t you think it was rather cynical of them to do nothing for all that time while watching all these properties being built, reaping the benefits of the economic growth they created and the various taxes and then strike years later? You admit that the Junta knew what was going on so they must pay the price for their failure by legalising these properties. Why should people who bought in good faith lose everything or be lumbered with a useless house they cannot sell? What part of this is “for the good of us all”. It is a nonsense and you know it.

    Suggesting that people go after the landowners, families, lawyers etc. is an utter waste of time and energy and will not legalise these properties or solve any of the problems. Even if you do find the person or body responsible, they are not going to cough up any money. This course of action will not benefit the victims at all and as ideas go, it’s pants.

    The Priors’ house was not built on protected/segregated land or dangerous so why was it demolished while their neighbours houses were left alone? They used a lawyer and had a building licence and frankly, it is a valid excuse if they bought in good faith – to suggest otherwise is a cop out. At no point did the Priors ignore the advice their lawyer, why don’t you contact them via AUAN to ask them to tell you exactly what they did?

    The only way forward is to legalise these properties and then make sure the law is properly enforced thereafter. The damaged caused by demolishing these properties far outweighs any possible benefits.

    You may think that these properties have blighted the landscape but they are not as ugly as coastal tower blocks. Most of them are attractive villas that brought some much needed life to the inland towns and villages and form a valuable part of the residential tourism industry – an industry that Spain is dependant upon unless they suddenly strike oil.

    It would appear that you are singing from a very different hymn sheet to most commenters here and you seem to side with the Junta de Andalucia – do you have some sort of vested interest? Perhaps you would care to enlighten us.

  22. Gus, the Junta knew about illegal builds in the Almanzora Valley back in 2005, in fact they arranged for the Guardia Civil Seprona Branch to investigate SOME of them, if that knowledge was passed on into the public zone then, many buyers would not be in the position they found themselves in some 3 years later, when court proceedings were well established.

    This document was not available to potential buyers, and only came to light when court proceedings were issued some 3 years later, if the Seprona Police investigating had released details of the link when investigations below were ongoing in 2005, a lot of people in the Valley and beyond would not be in the position they now find themselves in.

    “http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/export/drupaljda/fiscales_medioambientales_2005.pdf”

    They, the Junta, knew very well what was going on, and as BrYan states, changed the laws retrospectively. For instance those villas who gained mains electric and water prior to July 2008 were left alone, whereas those on builders supply after that date, despite having paper work signed by Town hall, before that date, have had to suffer without since.

    250,000 plus illegal properties in a population of 8.5 million, is a substantial amount, do you really think the Junta are not complicit to these figures? Ironic really, as the issues are probably the very reason for the economic woes Spain now finds itself in.

  23. Just to add to what LaHoya says, a lot of these so called illegal properties have been legal enough to pay IBI. Legal enough to pay tax that is… There is only so much due diligence one can do before buying and that’s assuming your lawyer is straight and competent (rare in my experience). The Junta has certainly moved the goalposts in some cases and this is just for show – to be seen to be cracking down on fraud. The bigger story is that lawyers, developers and local politicians (of all colours) have colluded with a view to deliberately defraud. If the very authorities who issue the paperwork are setting out to deceive, what hope of a buying doing any proper due diligence – even if his lawyer is onside, straight and competent?

  24. Alas paying IBI is not an indication of a legal property. Madly, even if your house is known to be illegal, IBI will still be demanded. As Iestyn ap Robert says, there are numerous architects, notaries and lawyers in jail for fraud. One architect worked in Malaga town hall and was colluding to issue fake licenses and paperwork. Buyer and indeed, owner, beware.

  25. Hi all,
    It is quite difficult to resume the whole situation in two words, but if only two words were to be used, I would say JURIDICAL INSECURITY.
    I am now working as councilor in my village, and I can assure you that over 90% of the houses were built according all legal requirements. The main problem was that the Town Halls were exceeding their competences and granted licenses that the Junta now wants to revoke. Thousands of houses called now “illegal” in fact are still legal as their licenses have not been annulled yet. The Town Halls are guilty and if a demolition is ordered, the affected person can claim compensation. It is called “responsabilidad patrimonial”. However, as the town hall has no money, you don’t get paid. For this reason, AUAN and SOHA are now trying to have this law changed so that compensation has to be prior demolition. No demolition could than be ordered without prior compensation.
    The vast majority of the victims were assisted by lawyers, but all of them were happy to take your money trusting that nobody would ever attack those licenses. Some of the properties were sold with the promise that the license was to be issued soon. They sold houses appearing to be legal. The Supreme Court of Spain ruled in a court case that the people have the right to entrust the administration.
    People who at this moment still are doubting about the integrity of the buyers in good faith is because they have never attended the meetings of the associations representing the victims.
    There will always be crooks around trying to fool the people, but we have the right to trust our administration. The local administration are guilty as they authorized the buildings or ignored the houses being built. The Junta is guilty in the same degree for inactivity in the control of the Planning.
    I could go on for another 10 pages, but it wouldn´t help the blind to see, because if somebody didn’t see by now that the whole thing is the product of massive corruption, he will never see.
    For those who read Dutch: “Wat baten kaars en bril als den uil niet zienen wil”.
    Mario Blancke
    Concejal de Urbanismo-Alcaucín

  26. Firstly I’ve got to say that I have no connection whatsoever with any Spanish political establishment, local authorities, builders, lawyers or anybody. All I’m trying to do is clarify who is to blame and who should be ‘gone after’.
    Yes, a major contributory factor has been in the Junta and the Courts acting so slowly and that’s what got everyone into this mess. However, the cause of the mess is that the houses were built illegally. The Junta have tried to get themselves out of trouble by only enforcing the law against properties that were not fully serviced. To have paid for a property only with the builders supply was naive at best and certainly negligence on behalf of your professional advisers. Understandable though, if you have sold up back home trusting on promised completion dates, but are living in rented accommodation because they haven’t been fulfilled – and can’t be because the property is illegal!
    As Fred says, having a Catastral value and receiving IBI facturas does not signify that a property is legal. All it does is show that payment is required for the local authority services that are being or are available to be used by the occupiers.
    I’m interested in what Mario is saying. The town halls granted the permission without having the town plans approved by the Junta de Andalucía. When this was done deliberately it was a criminal act; when it was through incompetence or negligence then it still the fault of the town hall. They should be paying compensation. However, the landowner and promoter and all the professional advisers should have known this too and thus they are liable. Just because the people who are liable cannot pay compensation doesn’t mean to say that it’s right to demand that compensation from somebody else. That’s what’s happening by taking action against the Junta.
    However, in addition to changing the law and regularising the situation where possible to permit ‘illegal owners’ to stay in the buildings, there should be some method for the Junta to be assisting the buyers, who acted ‘in good faith’ that their advisers were working for them, to take action against the people that made money out of the corrupt acts. The majority of these professionals and former landowners and politicians are still around and they are the ones who should be made to pay compensation and in addition fined so that the total of that is more than the profit they gained. Otherwise they have got away with it.

  27. Gus, if a person purchasing a property uses a lawyer and a notary, and that lawyer obtains all the paperwork from the town hall etc to authenticate the legality of the property, how can the buyers then be to blame if they find out later down the line the house is irregular or illegal? It’s as simple as that.

  28. Quote Gus
    “To have paid for a property only with the builders supply was naïve at best and certainly negligence on behalf of your professional advisers.” unquote.

    Perhaps you can enlighten us Gus? how “Off Plan” builds on developments in Spain or elsewhere can attain mains supply other than by “Builders/developers supply”? These builds in most cases were only available through Abogados contracts with buyer/developer agreements, incorporating “stage payments”.

    Most “Off Plan” buyers (legal or otherwise) paid for their “off plan” property in stage payments, and in my case had to pay €10k extra via a solicitor to the Ayuntamiento before attaining the signed authority from the town hall Mayor for permission for the eventual supply of mains water and electricity contracts for the buyer.

    Only on a completed “Off Plan” build can you get a Boletin de Enganche (connection certificate) which must be supplied by the electrician who installed all electrical wiring, etc. This is a mandatory requirement prior to a COFO.

    How Gus, could said electrician test his work on individual premises WITHOUT builder’s/developer supply to a Junta approved transformer, serving say 40 properties?

    Gus, could you also please comment on how this would ever be possible without having “Builders Supply” on the numerous “off Plan” developments throught Andalucía and beyond involving us “naïve” buyers?

    As we all know this process I describe above is mandatory prior to the issue of a Licencia de Primera ocupación (or Certificado de Habitabilidad) and eventual transfer of supply to the prospective purchaser. I respectfully suggest you join an organisation such as AUAN/SOHA for enlightenment before insinuating naivety.

  29. Fred – I agree that such action was all that would be expected of a buyer. However, as in Marbella, the Ayuntamiento was working to a PGOU that hadn’t been approved by the Junta. The lawyer should have checked whether the permission issued by the Ayuntamiento complied with the approved PGOU for the town. So the lawyer was negligent. If the Ayuntamiento issued the permission knowing it was not approved by the Junta, then it was an illegal act. They are two groups that the buyers should be going after in addition to all the rest. The Junta should have taken action much sooner against all the infringements and there could be a legal case for claiming the Junta was negligent in its duty to protect the people of Andalucía against illegal construction by individuals.

    LaHoya – In the beginning, the buyer’s solicitor should not have let his client sign a contract if it wasn’t conditional on the final payment and acceptance of the property being subject to receipt of the First Occupation Licence and not merely a Fin de Obras issued by the architect. If the buyer didn’t use a solicitor, then they’ve nobody to blame but themselves for signing such a contract.
    Yes, a builder’s supply is obviously essential for all these things you mentioned. BUT, its just that and not a contracted supply to the buyer. Due to a relatively recent law, that supply can only be connected if the property has a First Occupation Licence. The change occurred to try to stop the abuses that you are mentioning. That’s also why the earlier people are being left alone, as you mentioned above, as they were connected before the rules changed. The niavety was in accepting the building and taking occupation on the builder’s promise that everything would be sorted out quickly thereafter. However, it may have been that the original contract was flawed so that the buyer was legally obliged to complete then.

    So back again as to who is to blame and should recompense.
    The builder for building when he knew it didn’t have permissions.
    The architect and his professional team for all their work and especially signing the ‘Fin de Obras’ when they knew it didn’t have and probably couldn’t get permissions.
    The Ayuntamiento for granting faulty permissions and licences when they knew they didn’t have the authority to do so and for not stopping building that was illegal.
    The Junta for not enforcing their regulations against the Ayuntamientos and individuals for the illegal builds.
    The banks and their advisors for granting loans and mortgages over illegal building to the builders and some buyers.
    And ultimately the solicitors who were the supposed experts with a duty of care to their clients, but didn’t protect them.

    If the Junta grants permissions to the 10’s of 1000’s of illegal properties all those people will have got away with it and will keep on doing it. I believe that an amnesty of a kind was granted to illegal building about 20 odd years ago and that could only have encouraged others to proceed in the same way. They factored into their building costs a fine for illegal building and just carried on.

    That’s why I don’t join AUAN/SOHA as I believe that they are using all their energies against the wrong targets. They should be getting every ‘in good faith’ buyer to list all the people involved with the building of the properties and then going against them. Yes, the Colegios and their insurers will ‘close ranks’, but ultimately the groups will win cases and set precedents that will make other individuals, considering working in such a way, to think again. It’s got to be personal against the individuals who made money out of these schemes so that they and their families and friends will know that its wrong; they don’t win out of it; and most of all so that they see the grief and life shortening stress that their selfish actions have caused to the victims who may have lost everything.

  30. Oh Gus,

    “Would, could, should”, if we only all had your Oxbridge degree, first with honours, in Hindsight, do you think those avenues haven’t been exhausted by most? All that you suggest incorporates following a very lengthy expensive legal route, of which many of us have been down to date. Just try suing a Spanish lawyer/Abogados, even if you have bottomless pockets, the builders/developers claim bankruptcy, the Town Halls are broke, and the fraudulent criminals scarpered.

    But to follow these routes (which we have)ends up with the victims out of pocket in the thousands of euros, the perpetrators getting suspended sentences, minor fines, and laughingly not to build for a couple of years, or out of office. If the Vera Town Hall won’t reimburse the Priors, what chance anyone else.

    As an ardent critic of the AUAN/SOHA ways, how could/would/should you change the way they act, without being a member?

    if your views of their misgivings appear suitable to you, all I can say is it so easy to state the obvious, and any idiot can advise on places like this to try shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. And many builders, developers, and Politicians etc have definitely bolted. Unfortunately the Junta changed the rules when their gravy train ran out.

  31. Gus, had a quick read through the above. stefanjo we are not always that different in opinion. My point is, trying to fight inside Spain just gets pushed aside for years and even if something happens it is a very low fine, suspended jail sentence etc. That line of appeal will only result in the houses there and others being knocked down. Look how the King people got treatment for their son in a couple of weeks, get where I am going? You will only succeed if you cause major problems, such as costing them hundreds of millions or billions of euros, major news story, run an anti Spain message on TV programmes, showing house being knocked down all over the place. Not sure why the Priors have not been back on UK TV, not sure why no one has not set up a fund to help them buy another house…. People have put a lot of effort in with Marches in Spain etc, what about a March in the middle of London and outside the Spanish embassy, Germany etc tell the TV programmes first of course? What about contacting the papers, what about putting an advert here by the AUAN and state we are going to do XY and Z, fly here fly there but we need thousands of pounds to do this, please donate here… Ask the Priors to be go on UK daytime TV after their garage where they are living now has been filmed. Then go to their next biggest market, how long before they change their attitude then? If they were going to knock down my legal house that is what I would be doing, especially if I was retired and had time on my hands. I have properties in Spain so it is not really in my interest to talk it down but I don’t really need the money there so I can only tell the truth as I see it, besides, if they sorted their act out property prices would at least double from where they are at the moment. Change will not happen by sending a few letters to the very organisation that are causing the problems in the first place. They need outside intervention to change, outside pressure and the EU will not make it happen so it will only be publicity that will work, only this, nothing else.

  32. @Gus, it seems to me as if you are making a U-turn here. Let us quickly rewind back to what you said originally, which was this:

    “They set the rules and people ignored them and built houses where they shouldn’t.”

    When you say “people”, who do you mean? The buyer, the builder, who exactly?

    If you are saying the builders, lawyers, town halls etc are ultimately to blame, then yes of course, that is obviously the case. Let us concentrate on the people who purchased in “good faith”, which means that they relied on a legal/planning system that, ultimately, let them down because it was corrupt and inefficient. The people of SOHA/AUAN have not found a plot and built on a whim; they have used the system.

  33. Regarding using the media to highlight housing injustice in Spain. What is required is a T.V. series diametrically opposite to what is promulgated by such syrupy trash as “A Place In The Sun”. and its equally trite offspring ” A Place In The Winter Sun”. How about “Hell On Earth”?
    The lovely Jasmine occasionally hints at possible legal problems and urges would-be buyers to “consult a reputable solicitor when buying”. But never a mention of past and possible future disasters, for even wary purchasers.
    There has been the odd documentary shown, but these are far outweighed by the (repeated daily) dreamy stream of feelgood property shows.

  34. Gus, you are doing a marvellous job of highlighting just how rubbish the Spanish property laws are. It would be interesting to know how many potential foreign buyers have been scared off Spain just by reading your posts.

    You still don’t get it. The Junta de Andalucia want to demolish these properties so the Junta de Andalucia must pay for it, it is a simple as that. The town halls, lawyers, builders etc. do not want to demolish these houses because they are not that stupid, very few people are. Most right thinking people realise that the damage caused by demolishing these properties and the ensuing bad publicity are not worth it.

    Nobody is interested in pursuing personal claims and getting involved in law suits against lawyers, builders or town halls which would undoubtedly cost a fortune, take years and lead nowhere. Most of them are of the older generation and just want their houses legalised – nothing else. The majority of the victims are sick to death of the whole thing and just want out.

    The Junta de Andalucia are the only people who can legalise these houses and they are the only people who can demolish these houses which is why we focus on them – the buck stops with them.

    I do not agree with anything that you say and I doubt anyone else does either. Just what is your interest in this? You appear to have an awful lot to say about it and you sound like you are reading from a Junta script. Are you Spanish – Gustavo perhaps?

    We are where we are with this and not necessarily where we want to be and it has effectively become a damage limitation exercise. The only way forward is to legalise these properties and then make sure the law is properly enforced thereafter. There is no other viable option.

    This whole debacle is a very good example of the kind of muddled, non joined-up thinking that has got Spain into the dreadful mess it is in today.

    Reap, no worries, the tsunami of bad publicity will follow.

  35. PS to my previous post. In a last ditch attempt to save these two houses, SOHA and AUAN have launched an urgent appeal and there is a petition they would like you to sign. Please go to SOHA.es for details, your support would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  36. Hi,
    Really interesting discussion here going on. Unfortunately, I have no time to read through everything. Just to make things “a little more complicated”, I just want to add that, at least in the region of Málaga, those supposed illegal houses are still legal!!! Why? As those houses were built completing all legal requirements, those licenses are valid as long as they are not annulled by the town hall who irregularly issued them. (art. 57 of the Law 30/1992) The same law protects the citizens against malpractices of the town hall by obliging the town halls to respond for the damage suffered. We all know that the Town Halls have only debts, no money, so we cannot expect a compensation in our life time. So we have now thousands of LEGAL houses that will be declared ILLEGAL at some point in the future, ruining our lives and ruining all the villages for the next century.
    Mario

  37. Reap and Stefanjo, UK media are lined up and the DM will no doubt give them a good old drubbing. I sincerely hope this demolition does not go ahead but if it does, video footage of the actual demolition on the on-line newspaper version has been requested. OP will have it well covered too of course. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

  38. Jane states – ‘The Junta de Andalucía want to demolish these properties so the Junta de Andalucía must pay for it, it is a simple as that’. The Junta are obliged by the law to demolish them as they have been built illegally. It wasn’t the Junta that built them – it was the land owners, builders, architects, lawyers and town halls – who were all eventually paid by the unfortunates who paid for or bought the end product.
    Of course the Junta doesn’t want to demolish somebody’s house with all the damage to people and negative publicity, but they must do so to make an example to dissuade people from doing the same in the future. Otherwise the law has no teeth. However, the losers, being the ‘in good faith’ owners, are not the criminals who should be being penalised; it’s all those who made money out of the illegal acts. I know the legal process in Spain is desperately slow and ‘slow law is no law’.

    I suggest that SOHA and AUAN should concentrate on getting the law changed so that the house remains, but criminal liability is transferred to each and every person who made money out of it. If it’s criminal liability it’s the Junta and central Government who have to pay for the legal processes, which could be as automatic as traffic fines. These professionals, etc should suffer fines, large enough to wipe out all profits made, for being involved. There would be no appeals – if it is an illegal build and their signature is on a document, be it escritura at a price reflecting residential and not rustic value; the licence application; the grant of licence (all the members of the town hall committee that voted for it); the building contract; the Fin de Obras; etc; then they are all automatically guilty. The Junta would make a fortune and it would stop all that activity instantly – which is what we are all aiming for.

    As for all the properties already there – well they should stay and be regularised, but not legalised, with any profit on onward sale over the original purchase price (¡ojala!) going back to the public purse – then nobody can have profited from the whole sorry episode – except the public purse from the fines and profits, which will encourage them to act.

    With regard to the two houses, did publicity stop the Prior’s demolition? Getting the press involved is always a dangerous process as you don’t know what they are going to do with it. The press always has its own agenda and they have to follow the dictates of their advertisers. Once the process of the law as it stands is underway then its impossible to stop, it can only be delayed – unless the law is changed. It’s the radical change that’s required, so use your protesting energy to achieve that. Once again, follow the money and make such illegal works unprofitable and they will stop immediately.

  39. Gus, you are repeating yourself and nobody will take your advice anyway. Your idea of regularising as opposed to legalising these properties is spiteful and will not help the owners if they want to sell the property in the future. Why should they have to forego any profit, because you say so? Who are you to decide this? You seem hell bent on defending the Junta de Andalucia and big on the idea of punishing the owners who bought these properties in good faith. How do you know all these properties were built illegally anyway?

    You state over and over again in simplistic terms how the laws in Spain apparently work and yet you conveniently overlook the one crucial fact which is that the Junta de Andalucia knew all these houses were being built and did not act. These properties were being built over a period of more than 10 years and taxes were being collected as each property was sold. Therefore, they cannot claim that all these illegal builds suddenly came to light without any opportunity to uphold the law.

    You have a minority view on here and don’t underestimate the severe damage the UK press will cause to Spain’s image. The Priors’ demolition was not avoided but that single act and the bad press that followed killed the expat property market stone dead – God knows how much that cost you as a nation. Whatever way you look at it, this whole debacle reflects extremely badly on Spain and it will put many people off investing in Spain for many years to come. Your attitude towards the problem will not help to change this.

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