Illegal-homes drama in Andalucia: Court over-rules regional government

A recent judicial decision appears to provide a glimmer of hope for the owners of illegal houses in Andalucia

AUAN Press release – 24th January 2011

AUAN is pleased to learn that a recent judicial decision appears to provide a glimmer of hope for the owners of illegal houses. The Magistrate of Administrative Court No. 3 in Almeria, Judge Jesus Riveria, made a ruling on the 21st of January in which he rejected the Juntas’ reasons to nullify a licence of first occupation granted by Albox Town council, thus allowing the homeowners to contract water and electricity.

According to the ruling the house was constructed several years ago on non urban land without a building permit and any administrative action against it was proscribed as out of time. After satisfying several requirements, Albox Town council granted a license of first occupation to this property under a special ‘ordenanza’ or regulation which was created specifically to deal with this type of housing classified as ‘fuera de ordenacion’; that is to say constructed without a building permit but untouchable by the administration.

The Junta challenged the license of first occupation on the grounds that there was no building permit for the property and that these houses should be regulated by an urban plan. Alfredo Najas de la Cruz, representing Albox Council and Pedro Maldonado Ruiz acting for the homeowners, argued against the Juntas’ interpretation.

Judge Riveria found that the Juntas argument was erroneous and indicated that the administration “cannot in any way ignore reality” and that it “cannot prevent houses that are fuera de ordenacion from obtaining services which grant them the normal conditions of habitability”. Judge Riveria indicated that if the repair and maintenance of such houses is permitted, common sense dictates that they should also have services, especially when the license of occupation was granted under the strict terms of a special regulation that was not challenged by the Junta when it was created.

The President of AUAN Maura Hillen said “With all due respect, we sometimes think that the Junta lives on another planet. We understand that it was actually the Junta itself who established the special regulation to deal with houses that are “fuera de ordenacion” but then when various town councils had spent money implementing the regulation and granting licenses, they began to challenge them. And all this after people had trusted this regulation and spent lots of money complying with the requirements.” She added “Thank goodness that the court has recognised that there should be some common sense. We have tried without success to explain common sense to the Junta. I hope that the mayors of Almanzora will get through to them. Otherwise, the message will be delivered in the polling booths”.

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