Lights out for British property owners

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Anonymous Anonymous 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #57340
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    SOMETIMES I DESPAIR!

    AUAN, 11th March 2013

    In the latest twist to the saga of illegal properties in Spain, authorities in Andalucia have ordered the disconnection of electricity and water to 19 homes occupied by elderly British retirees, even though the same authority has already agreed that the properties can be made legal.

    Each couple spent between 160,000 and 265,000 Euros of their life savings on a retirement home in the area of El Fas in the small town of Cantoria , Almeria only to discover that the Dutch promoter had constructed the properties without planning permission in full view of the town hall. The promoter, Southern Spain Consultants C.B., was convicted of planning crimes in 2011 in a judgement that acknowledged that the homeowner’s who had assisted in the prosecution had acted in good faith. However, no order was made that they should be compensated and the promoters received a minimum sentence and fine.

    In 2012 the regional government, the Junta de Andalucia, agreed that the properties could be legalised under the terms of a new Decree which, they promised, would bring order to some 300,000 illegal properties in the region.

    In spite of this agreement, the same authority continues to pursue proceedings against the properties and has ordered disconnection of all public services which, apparently, cannot be reconnected until the properties become fully legal, a process which can take many years.

    Facing the prospect of more legal bills and life on an electricity generator, many have decided to give up the fight and abandon their homes to their fate.

    Adding insult to injury, the only property on the estate of 19 houses that continues to enjoy public services is the one owned and occupied by the developer.

    Maura Hillen from AUAN, an organisation that campaigns on behalf of homeowners impacted by the problem of illegal houses in Spain , said “These people have invested more than 3 million Euros in Spain and in return they are being treated disgracefully by a system that simply does not function to protect homeowners. And I am sorry to say that this is not an isolated case. Many thousands of illegal homeowners live in fear of disconnection and the regional government’s latest legal ‘solutions’ have simply served to make matters worse”.

  • #116064
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Shame on Spain. Grrrr, it really makes me angry (and it’s only just Monday morning!)

    The sad thing is that the local Spanish won’t get to hear about it….they will continue to think that wealthy Brits went there to flash their cash and tell the locals what to do.

  • #116065
    Profile photo of katy
    katy
    Spectator

    Dreadful to think of pensioners ending like that 😈

    Strange, on ITV Friday there was a new place in the sun type of programme showing. They were in cantoria 😯

  • #116066
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Exactly the reason I think that Brits should denounce the blooming programme. It’s like leading the blind to the cliff edge!

  • #116068
    Profile photo of angie
    angie
    Spectator

    Totally contradictory by the Junta which does not instil any confidence in property purchase there for newbies. I think there will be so much bad publicity over this that it will have to be overturned somehow but when 🙄

  • #116070
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    @Mark. Why sometimes. You despair all the time. Tell me one aspect of life in Spain that is jointed ?

  • #116071
    Profile photo of GarySFBCN
    GarySFBCN
    Participant

    Part of the problem is generational. Young people know that social media needs to be used to get any positive movement on a problem. Yes, I know. It should not be this way, but it is.

    A very short and concise video, combined with a Facebook page for the all the world to see about the plight of these people would have red-faced officials scrambling to fix the problem.

  • #116074
    Profile photo of Fuengi (Andrew)
    Fuengi (Andrew)
    Participant

    @mark wrote:

    SOMETIMES I DESPAIR!
    In the latest twist to the saga of illegal properties in Spain, authorities in Andalucia have ordered the disconnection of electricity and water to 19 homes occupied by elderly British retirees, even though the same authority has already agreed that the properties can be made legal.



    In 2012 the regional government, the Junta de Andalucia, agreed that the properties could be legalised under the terms of a new Decree which, they promised, would bring order to some 300,000 illegal properties in the region.

    In spite of this agreement, the same authority continues to pursue proceedings against the properties and has ordered disconnection of all public services which, apparently, cannot be reconnected until the properties become fully legal, a process which can take many years.

    of course terrible, etc…

    But there is no mention whether these owners applied for the procedure for the properties to be assimilated under the ‘out of plan statute’. This needs to be done to start the process of legalizing/regularizing the properties.

  • #116076
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have personal knowledge of a similar situation in Catral, in the Valencian community, with 1.300 illegal houses in a small area. Local government allowed the illegal building, but the land-grabbers at regional level in Valencia objected. The same situation as described by Mark is now in place and cannot be resolved.

    It can’t be resolved because of the different levels of government involved, with different political agendas and all of which have ignored the national level administered from Madrid – they’re all at war with each other.

    At national level, with the preservation of the entire country in mind, you cannot build on non-building land, and such illegal building cannot subsequently be legalised, it’s impossible.

    And there’s even another level to be considered, the European one. The European parliament managed to slow down the land-grabbing but not stop it completely. And it all took years and years.

    And you can’t live without lights and water for all that time, it would be extremely bad for your health.

  • #116077
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    Here are some interesting accounts written by ex-pats living in Spain through the crisis. Worth a read.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2013/mar/11/spain-housing-crisis-readers-panel

  • #116078
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    IF these unfortunate buyers had bothered to use an independent lawyer before they handed over their deposits they would have been told on day one that the development was not legal; simple as that. Most of the crooked developers on the spanish coasts were not Spanish; and they colluded with non spanish agents who told the naive buyers not to worry about lawyers etc etc etc.

    Utility co’s cannot supply properties without a 1st occupation license; if the developer has a connection it’s because they are still using “builders” connection ……it’s all very very sad but all very avoidable!!
    🙁 🙁 🙁 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯

  • #116079
    Profile photo of katy
    katy
    Spectator

    Seems as many did use independant Lawyers. As for the Developers not being Spanish…sure have been a lot in the news the past few years, from marbella to murcia 🙄 🙄 🙄

  • #116082
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Independent lawyers has little to with an illegal build under the nose of the authorities. It not that the block/building got built over night.

  • #116084
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    It shouldn’t even be possible for the local government to use that as an excuse that they didn’t know of the buildings being built all around them was illegal. They should have gone out and shut it down if that was the case. If they sit idle it should be their problem and not the consumers.

  • #116086
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    @Ardun wrote:

    It shouldn’t even be possible for the local government to use that as an excuse that they didn’t know of the buildings being built all around them was illegal. They should have gone out and shut it down if that was the case. If they sit idle it should be their problem and not the consumers.

    You could easily say that it was nobody’s fault. All the politicians concerned were merely following tradition, stretching back centuries.

    Who are we foreigners to disagree with a properly elected Spanish mayor, acting for the people of his town? And if he slips a few quid into his own pocket he is only following tradition.

  • #116089
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    and again, these buyers sat and listened to the notary reading through the deeds.

    Why do notaries not get hauled up over all these problems?

  • #116090
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    Because they are cahoots with the Mayor, developer, bankers, lawyers, politicos and anyone else who smooths the way.

    The makers and shakers all used to meet once a month when I was involved in business. They had a favorite restaurant with a private back room where they enjoyed a very expensive private lunch which lasted all day. If you were invited it was considered a privilege.

    It will still go on today but Joe public will never know. 😥

  • #116093
    Profile photo of Fuengi (Andrew)
    Fuengi (Andrew)
    Participant

    @itsme wrote:

    and again, these buyers sat and listened to the notary reading through the deeds.

    Why do notaries not get hauled up over all these problems?

    because the buyers accepted it and signed.

    You cannot blame the notary for that. I’m willing to bet the title deeds clear state what documentation was present and what was not in regards to licensing. If not, then the notary will have already been stripped of their licence, etc….

    The buyer could have asked for a ‘borrador’ before hand and paid for an official translation.

  • #116096
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    @fuengi wrote:

    then the notary will have already been stripped of their licence, etc….

    Mmmm…it would be interesting to see some data indicating just how many notaries have actually been struck off since the property crash began. I’ll bet you could count them on one hand. 🙂

  • #116098
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have a view that the Notary is there as no one in Spain can trust anyone e,g a lawyer to collect the correct amount & hand it over to the Hacienda. The Notaries are brought in for this as they are handsomely paid & in theory there be a less of a temptation for them to disappear with the taxes collected.

    Their function is to ensure that the contract that is being signed is a legal one. Frankly besides trying to sign a contract e,g of importing & distributing drugs from say Columbia most commercial contracts etc will be legal. So what is their function in a real estate transaction ?. Further if the contract is based on a illegal activity than he/she should not notarise.

    Myself & many member of the forum are aware of the illegal buildings through out the coast. I am not willing to accept that the Notary would not be aware of these buildings. Further it should be part of his due diligence to ensure and bring to the attention of the buyer of any short comings that effect the buyer. Besides its the buyer who mostly pays the Notary fee.

    Simply looking at their passport & pointing out who is the buyer/seller & the price being paid does not to justify the profession of a Notary. Any person who can read & is not colour blind can do this.

    In, France it is obligatory to have a translator who translate each & every clause into the respective language of the buyer.

  • #116100
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    @shakeel wrote:

    In, France it is obligatory to have a translator who translate each & every clause into the respective language of the buyer.

    That’s true, but a French notary also has an obligation to verify every legal aspect of the property transaction. They act for the state and charged to protect the purchasers interests. Illegal builds cannot happen in France because the country has an effective legal structure.

    Building work and the necessary utility connections require the production of documentation proving the build is legal. An obligatory sign has to be displayed outside the build with the numbers of authorising documents which can and do get checked at the local Marie. Building illegally in France is impossible and will almost certainly get you sent to jail.

  • #116101
    Profile photo of Fuengi (Andrew)
    Fuengi (Andrew)
    Participant

    the standard notary here will do a range of legal checks including contact the land registry to get up to date information on the property. they can contact the town hall and request a debt certificate, etc…

    But at the end of the day the buyer and seller are the ones that decide whether to continue with the transaction. A notary should try to inform the parties if they are doing anything out of the ordinary, but how are they supposed to communicate if the buyer (for example) does not speak spanish.

    I appreciate I may be a bit spoilt, and by preference only work with notaries that i feel work to a high standard, and thus use them as an ‘average’.

    But the fact remains, all (and I mean all) of the deeds I have seen involving illegal builds have clearly stated what was being bought officially and what documentation is missing.

  • #116102
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have on several occasions watched local mayors being interviewed on TV regarding illegal building within their jurisdiction. They have usually been small, elderly men in ill-fitting suits, badly knotted ties and grey hair.

    All of them have got angry and explained with quivering voices:

    ‘The foreigners have built houses for 100,000 Euros on our land and now want to sell them for 250,000. And they refuse to pay our fines.’

    Most of the mayors have gone to prison for corruption or are about to, and listening to them I doubt if any of them understand why.

  • #116105
    Profile photo of katy
    katy
    Spectator

    @fuengi wrote:

    the standard notary here will do a range of legal checks including contact the land registry to get up to date information on the property. they can contact the town hall and request a debt certificate, etc…

    But at the end of the day the buyer and seller are the ones that decide whether to continue with the transaction. A notary should try to inform the parties if they are doing anything out of the ordinary, but how are they supposed to communicate if the buyer (for example) does not speak spanish.

    I appreciate I may be a bit spoilt, and by preference only work with notaries that i feel work to a high standard, and thus use them as an ‘average’.

    But the fact remains, all (and I mean all) of the deeds I have seen involving illegal builds have clearly stated what was being bought officially and what documentation is missing.

    Surely in the case of new build the Notary should be asking for the FLO to be produced.

  • #116106
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    They have usually been small, elderly men in ill-fitting suits, badly knotted ties and grey hair.

    They must belong to old brigade and keep their cash in the mattress. The younger one are one are more bold & openly flout the ill gotten gains knowing they can not be touched as they have greased everybody’s palm along the way.

    The majority of the companies involved are companies like Aifos etc who are not managed/incorporated by non Spaniards/foreigners. So they must be in denial mode.

    Besides, a Building cannot be finished over night so timely action can be taken by the authorities. Forum members who are familiar with CDS will know the commercial centre of La Canada. To the best of my knowledge this was/is illegal. La Canada has thousand’s M2. I do not think that this built by non Spaniard & it took nearly three years to build. Were the authorities drining on the N340 blindfolded ???

  • #116118
    Profile photo of Fuengi (Andrew)
    Fuengi (Andrew)
    Participant

    @katy wrote:

    Surely in the case of new build the Notary should be asking for the FLO to be produced.

    absolutely!

    But what to do if the buyer says they still wish to go ahead? (either because lawyer/agent/developer convinces them or the lawyer has a POA and the buyer is not present).

  • #116125
    Profile photo of Fuengi (Andrew)
    Fuengi (Andrew)
    Participant

    to give a less serious example:

    When you buy a property in a community there is a paragraph in the title deeds that says the buyer accepts and understands the existing rules and regulations of the community.

    Many of you on here know people who have bought in Spain or have bought yourselves, how many were supplied with the community minutes or were at least informed of any special rules,etc…

  • #116127
    Profile photo of katy
    katy
    Spectator

    Good point Fuengi. We always did after knowing someone who bought and found out they were jointly liable for a €9000 outstanding water bill! Looking through the minutes can throw up any problems with legality, landslides etc

  • #116132
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    “But what to do if the buyer says they still wish to go ahead? (either because lawyer/agent/developer convinces them or the lawyer has a POA and the buyer is not present)”

    If the buyer still wishes to go ahead whether by choice or by duress than he/she has to take the responsibility. Remember we are discussing here the role of a Notary . He/She has to bring to the attention all & sundry legal short comings & if both parties are satisfied than his job is done.

    As a person of over eighteen years of age. One is considered as to be an adult & should take their responsibility and should not use the disjointed system that Spain has to offer.

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