Property owners in Spain who fall foul of the Ley de Costas, or Spanish coastal law, are suffering “dramatic economic problems” claims Carmen del Amo, president of national platform for those affected by the Ley de Costas (Plataforma Nacional de Afectados por la Ley de Costas).
The Ley de Costas, known in English as the Coastal Law, nationalised the entire Spanish coastline in 1988, effectively confiscating thousands of private properties and businesses located close to the shore. As well as failing to provide affected owners with any compensation, critics say the law has been inconsistently applied, and that boundary changes are made without any judicial oversight.
Homes and businesses situated on the “public land” of the coast will ultimately be demolished, though owners may be able to get a concession of use for between 30 and 60 years. In the meantime owners are not allowed to do any building work on their properties, which they will also struggle to sell.
Few foreigners are aware of the Ley de Costas issue, and every year a number buy what they think is a dream property on the beach, only to find out that they have walked into a nightmare.
The Valencian Community has the biggest problem with the Ley de Costas, says Carmen del Amo, who expects the problems to multiply as the boundary between public and private land continues to be drawn. Only 50% of the Valencian coastline has been done so far.
The coastal department of the Ministry of the Environment has rarely taken any notice of the suffering caused by its arbitrary application of the Ley de Costas, riding roughshod over the interests of affected owners. But according to Carmen de Amo, there are small signs that the Ministry is taking a more conciliatory approach, making the situation of affected owners “more hopeful”. “It seems that the Ministry has adopted a different way to deal with this, and is looking for solutions,” says de Amo.