Probe into Costa Almeria Building Licences

LoadingFavourite

This topic contains 34 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Anonymous Anonymous 11 years ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #51168
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi,

    What are your thoughts on the recent announcement that the regional, Diputación de Almería has launched an investigation into all building licences granted by the Mayor of Cuevas del Almanzora because, it is feared, they do not conform to urbanization regulations. The highest profile development in the area is Almanzora Country Club, where scores of homes have been sold off-plan and local property lawyers have found there is no licence and there never will be, despite claims by the developer involved.

    The developer in Almanzora Country Club is HUMA MEDITERRANEO S.L.
    I have a private contract in my posession right now waiting to be signed with a 40% down payment. So far I have only parted with 3,000 Euro reservation payment. Where do I go feom here. ? Any advice from this board appreciated. See link to above announcement

    http://www.propertyinspain.net/news/2005/06/almeria-planning/

    Regards
    Kalab

  • #58512
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    When buying in Spain it is very common for developers and agents to try and get you to sign a reservation contract (documento de reserva), accompanied by a payment of 3,000 to 6,000 Euros. Unfortunately most overseas buyers fall for this, as you appear to have done. For the record you should always avoid signing one of these documents and making this payment, as this contract does you – as the buyer – no favours whatsoever. This contract is typically short and vague, and leaves you in a weak position should you want to back out if, for example, you find that the developer doesn’t have planning permission.

    The reason why developers and agents want you to sign this contract is because they want to turn the momentum and enthusiasm of your visit into a commitment as quickly as possible. If you go home having signed a reservation contract and paid a non-refundable deposit of 3,000 Euros you are more likely to proceed with the purchase than if you go home having seen a property that you plan to buy, but without having made any commitment. The deposit makes a change of mind more costly, so on average fewer people change their mind if they have paid one.

    You are much better off not signing anything at this stage, and proceeding instead to a full purchase contract having done an appropriate due diligence. The property may of course be snapped up by someone else in the time it takes you to get the due diligence done, but it is unlikely, especially now that the market has cooled. The point to take on board is that you should not sign reservation contracts or make any payments before you have had an independent lawyer carry out an appropriate due diligence.

    Turning to what you should do given that you have signed a reservation contract and subsequently found that the developer doesn’t have planning permission.

    The cardinal rule when buying new build in Spain is never, ever buy off-plan (or finished property for that matter) if planning permission has not been granted. If it is true that planning permission has not been granted – and you need to have an independent lawyer (not related in any way to the developer or agents you have dealt with) confirm this – then, in my opinion, it would be very reckless of you to proceed. I would demand the deposit back on the grounds that planning permission has not been granted (if true). You may loose your deposit, but you have to balance the loss of 3,000 Euros against the problems you may have if you proceed. Without planning permission you will never be able to take possession of the property or sell it, so bear that in mind before you pay any more money to the developer.

    Mark

  • #58516
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have a question in respect of the following quote from a reply

    “Without planning permission you will never be able to take possession of the property or sell it”

    I have a problem in that I have recently found out my house has no building licence – i.e. planning permission.

    I have been told that within 4 or 5 years depending where the house is situated I will be able to legally register the house.

    Is this true?

    When this is done will I be able to sell it or mortgage it, even though I don’t have a building licence? Or will it always be illegal because it doesn’t have a building licence?

  • #58519
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Depending on where the house is and what the house is it is usually possible to get the correct paperwork organised retrospectively. Very few properties are bulldozed if there is actually someone living there. They may, however, demand modifications.

    For the mortgage, no bank will lend money against a property that doesn’t legally exist.

  • #58578
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Barbara,

    You are right that, under certain circumstances, a property that has been built without planning permission can be legalised, and that after 4 years it become legal de facto – though one still has to prove that it is over 4 years old. However it all depends upon where the property is built – the classification of the land, and whether or not the town hall has issued an expediente de infracción urbanística (planning infringement order) at any time.

    If your property was illegally built you need to get a lawyer or architect to check out the situation with the town hall. If the property can be legalised then you will be able to take out a mortgage and sell the property without any problems, that is once you have gone through the legalisation procedure.

    Always best to avoid these situations, which means check that a property is legally built before you buy. If the property was illegally built, then presumably you don’t have any title deeds?

    Mark

  • #58579
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Mark

    We have an escritura for just over 6000 square metres land. The land is rustic. We had the house built and paid the town hall for licences. These were never issued, but we were not aware of this until January this year.

    The town hall have never asked us to pull the house down. They actually came up and measured it when we took our final architects’s certificate to them. We thought we were waiting for our licence of first occupation. We have been here 2 1/2 years.

    The town hall say that we can’t have a building licence yet. In the new POT plan we will be made urban. Then we will have no more worries.

    They want to know why we are worried!!

    We are worried because all our money is tied up in the house, which at the moment is not worth anything and our land is only worth 1 euro a square metre. We know this because we tried to get a mortgage.

    We will be able to see the new plan in September, we hope.

    I am just trying to find a “Plan B” in case what the town hall say is not true, and to find out how long we will have to wait until we can register it as legal because we have been here a certain number of years.

    It still amazes me that we are in this position when we thought we had taken all precautions and paid all the necessary fees, insurances etc. and obviously I want to warn others to beware.

  • #58580
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Our solictor gave us a copy of our stamped licences BEFORE the build started.
    New regulations; A certificate naming who ever is the promotor of the build,in our case us, has to be in a prominent position as the police check.
    Illegal builds are going to be a thing of yesteryear.

  • #58593
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi I am new to this site.

    As regards Huma Mediterraneo SL not having a building licence. As there is no building licence I would like to know how Huma has received funding from their various Banks in order to continue the build or is the build being funded by people who continue to purchase property at the development.

  • #58610
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Barbara,

    If I understand your predicament correctly, then you should report your Architect to the local Architects Institute (Colegio).

    1) The Architect should inform you what the planning situation is before begining the Project, and what you can legally build in terms of use, floor area, maximum height etc.

    2) He or She should have had the Project approved and stamped by the Local Architects Institute. The Institute should have notified you when this process is complete.

    3) He or She should have presented the Project to the Local Town Hall on your behalf for the Building Licence.

    4) He or She should not have started work without the Building Licence, and is therefore in no position to issue a Final Certificate for building works that have not legally commenced.

    5) He or She should explain what happened to the fees that were paid for the Building Licence, as no Licence was issued.

    I understand that existing illegal building works effectively become “legal” after 6 years, although I am not a lawyer and this may depend on local regulations.

    I am based in Catalunya, and here the Llei d’Urbanisme regards residential building on agricultural land as ilegal, unless you are registered as a farmer. Therefore you may be able to legalise your current situation by becoming farmers, instead of having wait for another 3 1/2 years.

    I would wait and see what the new zoning regulations have to say about your situation. If indeed your land is to re-classified as “Urbanizable”, then you may be in for a pleasant surprise, as the value of your 6 hectares will increase considerably, as well as making your current dwelling legal. And please speak to a lawyer.

    @barbara wrote:

    Hi Mark

    We have an escritura for just over 6000 square metres land. The land is rustic. We had the house built and paid the town hall for licences. These were never issued, but we were not aware of this until January this year.

    The town hall have never asked us to pull the house down. They actually came up and measured it when we took our final architects’s certificate to them. We thought we were waiting for our licence of first occupation. We have been here 2 1/2 years.

    The town hall say that we can’t have a building licence yet. In the new POT plan we will be made urban. Then we will have no more worries.

    They want to know why we are worried!!

    We are worried because all our money is tied up in the house, which at the moment is not worth anything and our land is only worth 1 euro a square metre. We know this because we tried to get a mortgage.

    We will be able to see the new plan in September, we hope.

    I am just trying to find a “Plan B” in case what the town hall say is not true, and to find out how long we will have to wait until we can register it as legal because we have been here a certain number of years.

    It still amazes me that we are in this position when we thought we had taken all precautions and paid all the necessary fees, insurances etc. and obviously I want to warn others to beware.

  • #58611
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Kalab – we were almost “pressed” into buying on AMCC by a small “home run” Agency. We employed a lawyer from Lawbird in Marbella. He looked into the prospective purchase for us – before we paid any money. He told us the risk of purchase was too great in the circumstances. He suspected – back in Feb 2005 – that building licences would not be granted. In fact, he found it impossible to obtain actual documentation from the developers that they owned the land on which they were building.

    The Marbella lawyers have a website – http://www.lawbird.com – it may help to look at what is on there – it has a pretty comprehensive Q&A section. I believe that the company is acting on behalf of some unfortunate buyers who fell foul of another large Agentdeveloper. The details are on the Lawbird site.

    Also look at http://www.devwatch.com – it all makes for interesting reading.
    Good luck!

  • #58612
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Thank you Shaun for the information.

    We certainly have plans for the basic project stamped by the Colegio Official de Arquitectos de Malaga dated December 2001. The plans for the swimming pool are stamped by Colegio Oficial de Aparejadores y Arquitectos Tecnicos de Malaga, dated March 2003. The final certificate is also stamped by the Colegia de Arquitectos and dated November 2003.

    We were introduced to the architects by the estate agent and developer, who sold us the plot of land. My husband was the promoter and so everything was in his name. We had an “advisory service” who had our Power of Attorney acting for us and we paid out monies for the architects, the building licences, geological survey, construction insurance etc. etc when asked for it.

    The developer’s story is that he was told verbally that a licence would be issued. It is mentioned in the escritura for the land. The verbal agreement was later revoked. We, ourselves, had no contact at all with the town hall until recently.

    At no time were we told we were not able to build on the land by the town hall. We have receipts for the monies paid to them for the licences. It has not been returned to us. This is the main reason why we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will come through with the licence in the new plan.

    Taking all these facts into consideration, do you still think we should report the architects? Should they have asked to see the building licence? Have they done anything illegal?

    Barbara

  • #58616
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Barbara,

    It would appear that you have done everything by the book, although it is the Promotors responsibility to notify the Council that you intend to start work, not viceversa. I understand that you delegated this task, and I get the impression that it was delegated to somebody recommended by the developer, who obviously failed to do their job.

    1) Keep your fingers crossed, and play along with the Council.

    2) If you do not get your property legalised by the modification of the Council Planning Regulations, report the Architect to both the local Architects Institute, and to the “Consejo Superior” in Madrid.
    The Architect should have advised you that your land was not “Urbanizable”, should not have commenced works without a Building Licence, and should have completed the “Asume de Dirección”, which notifies the Council that works are to commence under his or her supervision.

    Although it is probably a bit late for you, I would advise the following for the benefit of others on this Forum:

    A) Don’t believe anything that a Developer, Builder or Estate Agent tells you. Get it in writing, and checked by a Lawyer.

    B) If you need an Architect, go to the Local Architects Institute and ask them to recommend one. Do not hire professionals (Architects, Surveyors or Lawyers) recommended by Developers or Estate Agents. Their interests do not coincide with the buyers interests.

    C) It is the Promoters (ie Owners) responsibility to make sure that what they are building is legal. If Power of Attorney is delegated to somebody, make sure that they are not related to the seller or Estate Agent.

    In Catalunya, foreign buyers who intend to build their own houses or renovate existing ones are lucky enough to have a Clients Advisory Service within the Catalan Architects Institute, where they are attended by an English speaking Architect who will advise them on exactly how to proceed. They will also be sent a list of English speaking or even British trained Architects who are registered in Catalunya, if required by the Client. Unfortunately, I don’t think this service exists elsewhere.

    Shaun

  • #58619
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Shaun

    Thank you very much for your help. I will let you know what happens in September.

    Barbara

  • #59686
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    There has been many postings on another forum re this development.
    The latest information that all building work has been stopped by the police until Wednesday.

  • #59486
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    There has been many postings on another forum re this development.
    The latest information that all building work has been stopped by the police until Wednesday.

  • #59691
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Apparently worked on the ACC development has been stopped until licences are fully in place.

    Anyone interested in this development can follow events on the forum at
    vivaalmeria.com

  • #59491
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Apparently worked on the ACC development has been stopped until licences are fully in place.

    Anyone interested in this development can follow events on the forum at
    vivaalmeria.com

  • #59692
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    The site is Viva-Almeria.com
    Go to forums or go to
    http://www.viva-almeria.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewforum&f=14

    Be warned – there are some contributors who seem to either have their heads in the sand or resent any comment that does not comply with their preconception of what they are getting into.

    The benefit of hindsight is priceless.

  • #59492
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    The site is Viva-Almeria.com
    Go to forums or go to
    http://www.viva-almeria.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewforum&f=14

    Be warned – there are some contributors who seem to either have their heads in the sand or resent any comment that does not comply with their preconception of what they are getting into.

    The benefit of hindsight is priceless.

  • #59697
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    We visited Almanzora Country Club two weeks ago. We knew that there were problems with building licences so were surprised to see the amount of building – probably several hundred houses and apartments under construction. I asked the Parador rep on site about the licences and he said that they would not be able to build on that scale without the correct paperwork. I telephoned Parador’s UK office with the same question and got a similar reply.

    Why is it possible for this to happen? Why do the Town Hall/Mayor/local government etc allow this to happen under their noses without stepping in? Surely they must realise the amount of grief it is eventually going to cause to the (mainly British) purchasers. The first phase is almost sold out – I think that’s about 900 properties.

    If you ‘Google’ Almanzora Country Club you get 28,100 entries so it’s not exactly being built in secret!

  • #59497
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    We visited Almanzora Country Club two weeks ago. We knew that there were problems with building licences so were surprised to see the amount of building – probably several hundred houses and apartments under construction. I asked the Parador rep on site about the licences and he said that they would not be able to build on that scale without the correct paperwork. I telephoned Parador’s UK office with the same question and got a similar reply.

    Why is it possible for this to happen? Why do the Town Hall/Mayor/local government etc allow this to happen under their noses without stepping in? Surely they must realise the amount of grief it is eventually going to cause to the (mainly British) purchasers. The first phase is almost sold out – I think that’s about 900 properties.

    If you ‘Google’ Almanzora Country Club you get 28,100 entries so it’s not exactly being built in secret!

  • #59698
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Maybe 900 people paying 7% IVA :mrgreen:

    Like you mention Tilly, why are they permitted to build without the relevant licences.?

  • #59498
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Maybe 900 people paying 7% IVA :mrgreen:

    Like you mention Tilly, why are they permitted to build without the relevant licences.?

  • #59712
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Barbara

    Just read this post with regards to your property not getting building licences. It is common practice in Spain for people to build on rustic land and then obtain retrospective permission after paying fines – which appears to be the process you are going through.

    How this works is you build, pay the fines, then (in this area Costa Blanca) you wait for four years for and architect to sign it saying it has been there four years and there it is all legal.

    The problem with this is in November last year the Central government in Madrid took away all powers from local authority to grant dispensation on land of less than 10,000Sq M. So if you dont currently have permission for your building I cant see how you would get it – as as far as I know this is a Spain wide thing not just here.

    Many people locally in Oliva and Ontinyent have been caught out by this having been sold plots of land or unfinished houses and being told it is not a problem to get permission – only to be told earlier this year that their home is illegal and they must pull it down.

    In Ontinyent there has beena moratorium on all building work for 4 months or so – I mean quite literally they have put up police tape across the property to stop anyone coming and going and those that do carry on are taken away off site.

    Like all things in Spain it takes a while for it to filter through to all areas but certainly in some parts here they are taking it seriously and have issued demolition orders – which the owners have to pay for.

    I dont wish to worry you but if I were you I would be looking at getting this completed as soon as possible.

    Regards

    Vince

  • #59512
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Barbara

    Just read this post with regards to your property not getting building licences. It is common practice in Spain for people to build on rustic land and then obtain retrospective permission after paying fines – which appears to be the process you are going through.

    How this works is you build, pay the fines, then (in this area Costa Blanca) you wait for four years for and architect to sign it saying it has been there four years and there it is all legal.

    The problem with this is in November last year the Central government in Madrid took away all powers from local authority to grant dispensation on land of less than 10,000Sq M. So if you dont currently have permission for your building I cant see how you would get it – as as far as I know this is a Spain wide thing not just here.

    Many people locally in Oliva and Ontinyent have been caught out by this having been sold plots of land or unfinished houses and being told it is not a problem to get permission – only to be told earlier this year that their home is illegal and they must pull it down.

    In Ontinyent there has beena moratorium on all building work for 4 months or so – I mean quite literally they have put up police tape across the property to stop anyone coming and going and those that do carry on are taken away off site.

    Like all things in Spain it takes a while for it to filter through to all areas but certainly in some parts here they are taking it seriously and have issued demolition orders – which the owners have to pay for.

    I dont wish to worry you but if I were you I would be looking at getting this completed as soon as possible.

    Regards

    Vince

  • #59769
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have made a reservation payment on a property at the Al Andalus Thalassa development in Vera, Almeria and am very concerned after reading your posts regarding building licences (or lack of) for developments in Almeria. Has anyone heard anything about this development or know how I can find out more about this?

  • #59569
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I have made a reservation payment on a property at the Al Andalus Thalassa development in Vera, Almeria and am very concerned after reading your posts regarding building licences (or lack of) for developments in Almeria. Has anyone heard anything about this development or know how I can find out more about this?

  • #59770
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    There is a topic on this development on

    vivaalmeria.com

  • #59570
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    There is a topic on this development on

    vivaalmeria.com

  • #59771
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Just checked out the website but cannot find the info you are referring to? It is on the forum??

  • #59571
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Just checked out the website but cannot find the info you are referring to? It is on the forum??

  • #59772
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Yes on the forum….development has its own topic

  • #59572
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Yes on the forum….development has its own topic

  • #60031
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I would like to update you on my earlier postings regarding our lack of building licence.

    A neighbour has been to the town hall to see the plan which has been drawn up by the Junta. It shows our land, and our neighbours, in fact a large area in brown which they have been told is to be an area of natural beauty. i.e. not building land. The town hall say that we should not worry and our houses will not be pulled down. The “brown area” is still in disupute with the Junta as it extends right down into a valley. The town hall say that in the new rules only land on the top of a hill and 20 metres in height down the hill should be called and area of natural beauty and not built on.

    The town hall have told our neighbours not to involve lawyers at this stage and to keep quiet. All will be OK. The town hall took monies for licences and did not correctly inspect paperwork when the buildings were going up. At no time has any site been taped off and told not to build.

    Do you think we should keep quiet a bit longer?
    Do you think we should carry on worrying and involve publicity and lawyers?
    Does anyone know what sort of timeframe we should expect everything to be sorted out in?

    Barbara

  • #60039
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Consult your lawyer or get a new one and WORRY. 😯

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.