Mayor of Marbella promises immunity to owners of illegal properties

María Ángeles Muñoz, Mayor of Marbella
María Ángeles Muñoz, Mayor of Marbella

María Ángeles Muñoz, the lady Mayor of Marbella, has promised the owners of the town’s 18,000 illegal properties that they will not have to pay any compensation to the town hall to have their properties legalised. But the question is, does she have the authority to make this promise?

The promise is made in a letter addressed to all owners of illegal properties in Marbella who bought in good faith. “Amongst the modifications we have incorporated into the document [urban plan] currently under consideration, stands out the inclusion of new guarantees to exempt buyers who, like you, bought their property in good faith, from having to pay any type of compensation to sort out the planning status of their home or business,” writes the Mayor.

More Marbella drama

But when it comes to property in Marbella, nothing is ever simple. The Mayor may not have the authority to offer buyers immunity, and though the letter has been published at the municipal government’s website, and added to the urban planning documentation under public review, the fact is that no exemption for buyers exists in the draft urban plan that will become law.

Javier de Luis, a local politician from the opposition socialist party, dismisses the Mayor’s promise as a “populist measure” that does not provide any guarantees to owners of illegal properties.

View of Marbella and La Concha from the Marbella Club pier
View of Marbella and La Concha from the Marbella Club pier

“One thing is what the Mayor promises, quite another thing is what the law says,” De Luis told the Spanish press. “In the amendments to the PGOU [urban plan] there is no mention of buyers of good faith. Furthermore, the administration of justice does not recognise good or bad faith, just laws, and one cannot guarantee something that is not contemplated by Andalucía’s planning regulations.”

The planning authorities in Seville appear to share the same opinion as De Luis. Manuel González Fustegueras, who drafted the new urban plan, has repeatedly told owners that the ultimate responsibility for illegal homes goes with ownership.

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