Andalucian Government announces illegal homes amnesty

José Antonio Griñán, the President of Andalucia, announced yesterday that illegally-built homes in Andalucia will be legalised by decree, but stressed that this isn’t an amnesty, despite all evidence to the contrary.

“In some cases it will be a regularisation that answers to town halls through town plans, and in other cases it will come at the request of individual owners,” Griñán told the Andalucian parliament.

The only homes that won’t be legalised are those built on specially protected land and areas at risk of flooding.

According to the Junta, there are 300,000 homes with planning problems in Andalucia, but others like the left-wing party Izquiera Unida say the figure is more like 400,000.

There will be no more problems in future because it is now “practically impossible” to build illegally in Andalucia, claims Griñán. “We are not going to let our guard down,” he said.

Josefina Cruz Villalón, the Minister responsible for housing, recently blamed British owners in Andalucia for much of the problem with illegal building.

Judging by the comments from readers at some Andalucian news websites, the move will go down badly with many voters, who are outraged that law-breakers are being rewarded for their behaviour. In reality, an amnesty is the only solution to a problem the government should never have allowed to grow to such monstrous proportions.

When it comes to illegally built homes, you either stamp it out straight away, or the problem gets so big you end up having to resort to amnesties.

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One thought on “Andalucian Government announces illegal homes amnesty”

  1. Bea

    Regarding the new decree relating to the regulation of 250,000 illegal properties in Andalucia: There seems to be a misapprehension that the problem is that of properties built without architects’ projects, licences or building permits, without accurate Title Deeds and/or unregistered in the Land Registry. Of course the owners of such properties must be liable to legal sanctions and fines and there can be no argument about this.

    However, a large and separate category of properties exist, whose owners have diligently followed correct legal procedures every step of the way, using properly qualified lawyers, collecting all of the required permits and licences from the local town hall, and registering the correct and accurate details of their properties with the Land Registry and the Catastro. These unfortunate and totally innocent home owners are now being informed that their properties are in fact illegal, because the permits and licenses that were issued by the town halls were granted incorrectly and possibly “illegally”.

    Unfortunately the “incorrect” issuing of building permits and licences has been the norm for many decades in Andalucia, and this is only part of a systemic problem which has been seriously undermining the region’s housing market since the introduction of the ‘Ley de Ordenación Urbanística de Andalucía’ (LOUA) in 2003. Since then, an unregulated estate agency sector, propped up by an equally unregulated legal profession, has continued to advise buyers and sellers alike that illegal properties are legal and safe to buy. Until recently, architect’s continued to sign off building projects as satisfactory when they were in fact illegal, and local town halls continued to issue (and accept payment for) incorrect and illegal Building Licences, Work Permits and Certificates of First Occupation. Last but not least, the regional government to this day continues to allow illegal properties to be registered in the Land Registry and on the Catastro, without notification or warning of their illegality, and the Registradores de España (Land Registry) continues to return misleading, incomplete or inaccurate information relating to a properties’ legal status and history.

    It seems obvious that the fault in this deplorable situation lies incontrovertibly with the incorrect and / or illegal practices of the above mentioned bodies. The whole system is broken and must be fixed in order to ensure that the Spanish property market can become respectable and trustworthy. The remedy surely is to introduce and immediately implement strict new compulsory rules to eradicate incorrect / illegal practices, whether these practices result from corruption and malpractice, or from simple incompetence. What is required is clear guidelines as to what constitutes a legal or an illegal property, with compulsory retraining, suspension or dismissal for wayward government and legal employees, and fines and imprisonment for those who continue to flout the law.

    The one group of people who are not at fault is the innocent home owners who have followed all correct legal procedures, incidentally paying for the privilege at every stage. The town halls, the lawyers, the architects and the Junta need to be made to take responsibility for their actions. Home owners must not be held accountable for the incorrect and illegal actions of others.

    Unfortunately, the new decree completely fails home owners in this respect. Under its provisions the town halls actually stand to reap the benefits of their own corrupt practices, with the new legislation making it clear that all designated “illegal” properties must now be registered, and that the cost of the process of registering must be met by the owners, and in no case by local town halls. Beleaguered home owners are being asked to pay yet more money to rectify a situation that is entirely not of their own causing, and, to add insult to injury, to pay this money to the very same town halls that flouted the law by issuing and approving the illegal permits and licences in the first place.

    The whole situation is patently unfair, immoral, stressful to home owners and damaging to the Spanish economy. Firm and immediate action is necessary to re-establish confidence in the Spanish property market and hopefully achieve some level of justice for the put-upon home owner. As has happened before in Spain with regard to property issues, this matter may need to be taken to the European Courts before it can be resolved – an expensive and laborious procedure. Let’s hope that this can be avoided and that the government wakes up to the extreme injustice of its actions and resolves to take immediate action in this matter to punish the guilty, reprieve the innocent, and make buying and owning property in Spain as safe and secure as it is in most European countries.

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