WHO can we trust when it comes to building in Spain? Yet another case of a British expat who has fallen foul of planning rules highlights the question that has been a persistent one in the 15 years since the inception of the Olive Press.
At one time tens of thousands of homes were declared illegal and facing demolition orders across Spain’s Andalucia.
Unscrupulous constructors, corrupt planning officials and dodgy lawyers all conspired to line their pockets during a building boom that saw many foreigners naively fall victim and pay the price.
And although huge progress has been made in legislation thanks to campaigning groups such as the AUN to regularise the supposedly illegal homes and protect those who bought ‘in good faith’, there are still those living with the very real fear of seeing their retirement dreams literally crumble into rubble.
Some were all too eager to believe the assertions that planning permission could be sought retroactively, because “that’s just how things are done in Spain”.
Others did everything conceivable to check that paperwork was in order on a property only to fall between the cracks of Spain’s often labyrinthine planning rules.
But are the lawyers who gave bad advice failing jail? What repercussions are there for the constructors who disappeared after declaring bankruptcy only to reappear phoenix-like under another company name?
The question is rhetorical for we all know who pays the price. It’s the one who sunk his savings into a place to quietly spend a retirement in the sunshine and who made the mistake of placing his trust in the wrong people.
The threat of losing your home and spending your twilight years in jail is surely too big a price to pay?