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In the end the amendment was passed. Sometimes they do the right thing.
AUAN PRESS RELEASE
Legal reform brings hope to owners of illegal Spanish Homes
AUAN, 15th March 2015
British homeowners association, AUAN, welcomes the change to the Spanish Criminal Code which says that the homeowner is to be guaranteed compensation prior to the demolition of a property purchased in good faith.
Breakthrough for homeowners associations
The change, approved by the upper house of the Spanish Parliament (the Senate) on the 11th of March, represents the first breakthrough for associations such as AUAN and SOHA who have struggled for nearly ten years to bring hope to their members, mostly British retirees, who were the innocent purchasers of illegally constructed properties in Spain.
To date four British owned properties have been demolished as a result of Criminal Cases, brought against promoters for illegal construction without planning permission, leaving the purchasers in good faith with no money and no house because the criminal court was, until now, not obliged to guarantee them prior compensation.
Maura Hillen, AUAN’s president said ‘The most significant aspect of this change is that the state has recognised and acknowledged the existence of an injustice that must be put to right’.
The amendment, proposed to the Senate by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) at the request of AUAN and SOHA, was initially rejected by the majority party in Spain, the Partido Popular (PP). However in an about face on the day of the Senate vote, the PP offered an alternative wording which was agreed in a cross party pact at the end of a day of intensive negotiations conducted in the corridors of the Senate Building.
The lawyer, Gerardo Vazquez, who represented the associations in the negotiations, indicated that the final text, which requires more detailed analysis, represents ‘an improvement for the victims’ although it does not have the ‘clarity’ of the original proposal. ‘It offers protection to purchasers in good faith but it is not all that we wished for’.
More to be done
Mrs Hillen said ‘We are of course very pleased with the outcome but this is not the end of the road. There is much more that can be done. We would like to see the same protection offered by the Administrative Courts when a planning permission is revoked. This also requires a change to state law, the Ley de Suelo.
And, in Andalucía we currently have a bill going through the regional parliament which, if passed, will amend the planning laws of Andalucia (LOUA) and allow an estimated 25,000 homeowners to regularise the situation of their home. We would like to see this become law before the municipal elections in May’.
David vs. Goliath
She continued, ‘We celebrate this success and hope for more. This change is a victory for David vs. Goliath, for the members of the associations who stood together and fought for justice and we are grateful to the Socialist Party for taking the bull by the horns and to the members of the Senate who responded to our appeal to vote with their conscience and who negotiated a pact to approve this change by an overwhelming majority (233 votes in favour, 0 against and 1 abstention). We came to the Senate without the support of the majority party and fully expected to go down fighting. Instead we won the day at the 11th hour.’
Senator Fuensanta Coves (PSOE), who proposed the amendment to the Senate commented ‘Social justice is the best way to define what we have achieved and satisfaction is the best way to define what we feel having changed a law. I will not say that it was easy but it was certainly a team effort: a well organised group of citizens, a political party who recognised their demands and echoed those demands to the Senate of Spain, and a Government that has finally recognised the drama that many citizens are living with. In these times of such distrust in politics, examples such as this show the need for representatives of the citizens’.