17 Nov, 2023 @ 13:30
2 mins read

British expats among dozens to lose full ownership of their homes due to controversial ‘Coastal Law’ on Spain’s Costa Blanca

British expats among dozens to lose full ownership of their homes due to controversial 'Coastal Law' on Spain's Costa Blanca
British expats among dozens to lose full ownership of their homes due to controversial 'Coastal Law' on Spain's Costa Blanca

BRITISH expats are among the 100-plus homeowners in Denia who say they are being virtually stripped of their properties because of a so-called ‘Coastal Law’.

The Public Maritime Land Domain (DPMT) legislation was first brought during the 1980s in an attempt to prevent the Costa Blanca from being overdeveloped.

But in its current form, once an area has been deemed to be in the ‘public domain’ i.e. close enough to the beach to be considered government-owned land, private ownership is forbidden. 

This is the current fate of some 115 home and business owners in Denia, who now find themselves in the ‘public domain’ after the coastline was redrawn by the Coastal Authority (Costas). 

The Costas say the owners will not lose their homes but will have a ‘75-year concession’ and that demarcation of areas did ‘not imply that any homes would be demolished’ along with the fact they can be sold or passed on as an inheritance. 


The new demarcation will in one way or another affect more than 3,600 buildings on Denia’s northern coast – specifically between the Molinell river and the first breakwater – covering an area of over 10,000 m2 along two kilometres of the coastal strip.

A campaign group called ‘Association of People Affected by the Coastal Law’ claimed that all of the properties will be deemed not to have planning permission and once the ‘useful life’ of the homes has expired, they are expected to ‘disappear’, i.e. be demolished- something denied by the Costas.

The group told the Olive Press that at least one of the families affected is British. 

Meanwhile, Swiss-born Genevieve Chiche owns a semi-detached house overlooking Les Deveses beach, bought by her mother over 50 years ago and which is now on the public domain seizure list.

“The Costas is taking my home, my garden, and my life- turning me into a legal squatter of a property that had all the legal permits,” she fumed. 

Also in the firing line is Les Deveses restaurant owner, Sebastian Alcaraz, who bought his business in 1981 with the building constructed 16 years earlier.

He said: “This is an unprecedented outrage as we lose our assets, savings, and our lives.”   

The Costas has divided the affected coastline into three sections and has held survey meetings for each strip. 

The Alicante province Costas head, Rosa de los Ríos, has been in charge of directing these surveys.

She said it was an ‘administrative, procedural act’, in which they showed those affected where the line that marks public domain passes and how the rights of way go from that point.

De los Rios stated that the demarcation line is ‘provisional’ and does not entail the demolition of any building.

Some of the lines have literally been marked out with pink paint spots – as a guide- with one resident promising to take legal action as the line was drawn without his permission on private land. 

Residents have received the backing of the Valencian government and its general director of Ports, Airports and Coasts, Vicente Martínez Mus who said he shared ‘their feeling of indignation and anger’.

“We oppose these rules and the way they are being applied are unfair and arbitrary,” said Martinez Mus.

“We have demanded for a long time that the Costas fight against the regression of the coastline through regeneration and protection of the public domain, instead of fighting against the residents,” he added.


Alex Trelinski

Alex worked for 30 years for the BBC as a presenter, producer and manager. He covered a variety of areas specialising in sport, news and politics. After moving to the Costa Blanca over a decade ago, he edited a newspaper for 5 years and worked on local radio.

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