July 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm #53059
Illegal homes on the market
Rural properties sold and occupied in Catral
By Dave Jones
ILLEGAL homes recently completed by builders on rural land in Catral are now up for sale on the internet.
CB News reported in February that an urbanisation of more than 100 illegal villas was being built at La Partida de Santa Águeda, close to El Hondo natural park
Previously, in October last year, the regional government had stripped Catral council of its powers to run the town planning department, stating that it had failed to stop 1,270 illegal homes being built.
And former land and housing department chief Esteban González Pons stated at the time that there would be zero tolerance of illegal building.
But in the last five months many of houses in La Partida de Santa Águeda have been finished.
CB News visited the urbanisation this week to find that at least half a dozen of the properties have been sold and occupied by the buyers.
The builders have moved offsite but houses are up for sale on internet websites – along with similar recently-finished illegal properties in other areas of Catral.
The three-bedroom villas are being offered for 252,000 euros and are advertised as being in a ‘rustic area of Catral’.
The regional government has already started legal proceedings to demolish 45 homes in Catral.
A spokesman told CB News that 20 of these houses, which are inside the protection perimeter of El Hondo natural park, are unlikely to be saved.
With the other properties, he said there was a possibility that they could be legalised.
The regional government has revealed that aerial photographs have been taken of Catral which show up the buildings alleged to be illegal.
These photographs are currently being used by inspectors operating in the municipality.
It was announced this week that Catral’s new mayor Aurelio Albero and the regional government had agreed to form a consortium to draw up the new Town Plan (PGOU).
Residents are hoping the document will sort out the illegal building problem and legalise some of the houses which have been built without licences.
August 1, 2007 at 7:56 am #73859
Terrible isn’t it there are people who will still try to sell illegal properties, and I dont just mean the big developers.
Two weeks ago, I was browsing another forum that has a house sales section and I found one of my English neighbours (in Spain) advertising a villa right by ours for our Spanish neighbour(developer), stating it as FULLY LEGAL!!
Now either they are totally naive and still think the Spanish neighbour is telling the truth about its legality or they are in it up to their necks too – unbelievable. Knowing how this Spanish couple work, they probably have said that if they help to sell it, they will give the English neighbour some commission.
The friends who introduced us to this couple 2 years ago got a similar deal. Money is such a motivator!
It made my blood boil, that they were still trying to scam people and for a really inflated price too. I even found the same villa on an Albox Inmobiliarias website at a really inflated price. I cant believe this estate agent is totally ignorant of the situation – this is the kind of thing that give REA’s a bad name.
Needless to say, I haven’t kept in contact with any of our neighbours since we felt compelled to move back to the UK, however I did feel the need to point out on the forum that this house was not totally legal and why. The advert was removed very quickly – thankfully.
I just hope it helped by stopping them ruining another persons life.
August 21, 2007 at 2:24 pm #74133
What is it with some estate agents! I despair. They seem to think that as long as a property has an escritura they can advertise it as fully legal.
I’m sure some estate agents are diligent and check that (if the house is new), it has got an LFO or on the local PGOU whether it is built on urban land or rural. (Trust me it makes a difference!)
Some REAs also think that if a house has an escritura and has electricity and water running to it, then it must be legal too. Do they check to make sure there are contracts in place or obtainable? Especially on a new build.
I’m sure I’ll get it in the neck for mentioning these things but as someone who only found out their house was illegal a year after signing (ie no permissions or LFO) and that our electricity supply was not legal too eventhough it was connected just before we signed for it. Isn’t it worth mentioning so a prospective buyer doesn’t get duped?
Also, I would think that any REA would want to keep a good reputation rather than get one for being complicit (admittedly sometimes unwittingly) in this continuing situation. I’m sure some REA’s get duped too.
At least if they have more boxes to tick off as ok, they can be more sure that they are not going to get scammed.
I wouldn’t wish this state of affairs on my worst enemy – except perhaps the Spanish people who sold us it in the first place knowing it was illegal and insisting countless times on the veracity of it’s legality!
August 21, 2007 at 2:38 pm #74134InezParticipant
Its a sorry tale of woe for you and many others in the same situation. I do ask and check documentation, but if its there, available and assured by a lawer, there is only so far you can go. I find it a nightmare but also it would be expensive to continutally go the various departments to check out every single unit.
One should be able to rely on valid documentation! And even when it seems illegal or legal there is doubt!
Hey ho – but in Marbella the majority of built and occupied legal units will be legalized – they really cant do anything else!
Good luck with things
August 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm #74135
Yes, possibly for me it is a tale of woe at the moment, but I do try to stay positive despite the frustrations of the situation.
I just hope that my tale can help others not fall into the same traps as us – this is one of my biggest frustrations that the illegal selling continues.
Thank you Inez for the kind words, I’m sure that most estate agents do do some checks but people like me seem to fall between a big gap – what the estate agents believe they should check and what work they believe a lawyer should do. There seems to be a lot of assumptions. In our case our estate agent was ignorant of process (amateurs) and did not know to check even the local PGOU situation but relied solely on the local lawyer to do it or just assumed they would (as per the UK situation). In addition, they were being advised heavily by the local developer (who naturally had a vested interest in them remaining ignorant). I think we were just monumentally unlucky with who we dealt with.
I have heard that unless you specifically ask for extra checks from a lawyer, some dont always do them and then use this as a get out clause when things go pear shaped. However, if a buyer is new to the country and relying on a lawyers thoroughness and integrity, this naivety and ignorance can be a persons undoing. I accept full responsibility for being one of these people, however we did ask our lawyer to double and triple check everything for us as we had heard vague rumours of problems regarding our purchase but still things went wrong – he said it was perfect.
I just wish some estate agents would try to bridge the responsibilty gap a bit more.
August 21, 2007 at 5:19 pm #74136
I do sympathise with your position but (I am not usually onside with EA’s), how can you expect an estate agent to wade through all the legalities if a Lawyer is not capable of doing it? An agent asks to see the escritura, if that is present the onus is then on your lawyer. An agent has hundreds of properties on their books, would be a bit expensive to do an extensive search on everyone.
August 21, 2007 at 6:26 pm #74138
I would not expect them to undertake lots of legal legwork, but as the local PGOU’s are common knowledge and downloadable, could they not have a reference copy to make sure the properties in their particular sales areas are on urban land or are non-urbanizable? This seems to be a common unforeseen problem for buyers.
Also, most owners/developers who are selling normally have a project folder with them, they EA could check the relevant documents are in this folder or could at least ask for copies for their own independent lawyer to look over before accepting the property onto their books…yes? Not just the escritura but copies of utility bills, LFO. If the seller is genuine and has nothing to hide this should not be a problem.
Finally, I know estate agents recommend local lawyers to do the majority of the work (as it should be), but it would be wiser for them not to favour a particular lawyer, especially if they cannot guarantee their recommendation is honest and/or thorough.
Estate agents have a reputation to consider after all, dont they? Because
unfortunately, estate agents (and not just in Spain) have a reputation for getting lots of money for not doing a lot, so isn’t it about time they earned their mark up?
August 21, 2007 at 8:39 pm #74141
I would never trust an estate agent but surely they are only an intermediary. If things go wrong it is the fault of the lawyers thats what you pay them to do. If a property is blatently illegal then the agent is at fault but in many cases it seems so obscure I do not think you can blame the agent.
August 31, 2007 at 6:46 pm #74638
Sorry Katy, cant agree with you. My REA was an amateur and I believe got duped as much as us and were ignorant of their responsibilites and Spanish property procedure and legal requirements. I dont hold them fully responsible – they were our friends after all.
It is the ones who even now are selling/representing properties as “fully legal” when they aren’t.
My view is they should know their job, know the local PGOU and get their own lawyer to check the documents before proclaiming a property as “fully legal” on their websites or sales literature. I call this misrepresentation.
Most people want to get what they pay for and agree to: from a seller, the “legal” house; the estate agent, the commission on a legal house and the lawyer, a payment for professional, honest advice). I would not call wanting to buy one of their “fully legal” villas and getting a “semi or totally illegal” in actuality, is getting what you pay for.
Where is the responsibility in the whole process? Well, in Spain – nowhere, as they all pass the buck and at the end of the day, us poor schmucks get the blame for trusting and believing these people.
August 31, 2007 at 9:54 pm #74643
No way am I siding with the agents, infact I think the vast majority of them are a load of tossers (putting it mildly),but, even in the UK. who ties up the loose ends? Do you trust the agent to tell you there is going to be a major road running at the back of your garden or your solicitor? The vast majority of dodgy purchases here have been carried out with a highly paid lawyer on your part. Isn’t that why a Lawyer is hired? to protect your interests?
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