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Trouble brewing in Cantoria, Almeria

Dozens of Britons are living under the threat of having their homes demolished in the El Fas development of Cantoria, in Andalucia’s Almeria province.

Illegally built properties, demolition threats, and dozens, perhaps hundreds of hapless property owners – many of the British – living under the threat of losing everything they have. It’s a familiar story, this time unfolding in the El Fas district of Cantoria, in Andalucia’s Almeria province.

The problem with illegally built homes in Cantoria goes back to at least 2005, when the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) started an investigation into illegal building in the area. Various builders, including two Dutch residents, are accused of building and selling homes without licences, whilst assuring buyers that everything was above board.

Dozens of British owners are now waking up to the fact that their properties have been illegally built on non-urban land, without building licences, and with no licence of first occupation. For many, the wakeup call was notification from a magistrate that owners can now sue their builders for fraud, having been sold illegal homes under false pretences. Unless the properties are legalised in a planning amnesty they are at risk of being demolished.

One British owner posting in a local internet forum claims that he bought his home from a company owned by the Mayor of Cantoria, who subsequently assured him that his property would be ‘legalised’ if he voted for the Mayor in the municipal elections. The property remains illegal, despite the Mayor’s triumph in the local elections. “The foreigners of Cantoria have been cheated by the Mayor,” writes the owner.

Some of the developers named in the court proceedings claim they are victims of a “witch hunt” lead by the Socialist run government of Andalucia (Junta) against developers and town councils from the right of centre Popular Party.

Down the road from Cantoria, in Albox and Amanzora, there are hundreds of other illegaly built properties, many of them belonging to British owners.