A register with details of Spain’s three million empty homes fails to flag all of those earmarked for demolition
he Spanish government has been accused of pushing illegally built homes to British buyers.
The country has an estimated three million homes standing empty due to the property crash that began in 2007.
One million of these may have been built illegally due to rife corruption in the construction industry and town halls which gave permission to build. Many will be demolished.
The Spanish government wants to sell some of the three million vacant homes and runs an online list.
But a report by the Daily Mail suggests many of the homes registered are due for demolition – but fail to state this on the website.
Estate agents are also accused of pushing homes which are illegal and, in some cases, set to be bulldozed.
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The Mail found a remote three-bedroom villa in Andalucia on sale for £64,300, which was due to be knocked down.
Legal experts said it was often impossible to tell if a house had been built illegally.
An attempt by the Spanish minister for development, José Blanco, to sell the merits of buying in Spain in 2011 was criticised by those lumbered with illegal properties.
The roadshow, held in London, aimed to “highlight the strengths of our economy, transparency and legal certainty of our planning legislation”.
An estimated 100,000 Britons have bought homes that have or will be bulldozed.
In many cases, British pensioners have sunk their life savings into a dream home, only to find themselves homeless and penniless.
Pensioners Len and Helen Prior paid €375,000 for a home in Andalucia in 2002. It was demolished in 2008.
Maura Hillen, president of expat campaign group AUAN, told the Mail: “The Spanish government is trying to encourage foreigners to buy in Spain and is claiming it has brought in measures to make it safe to do so. But buying is not down to skill, it’s still luck.”
Among its demands are that any proceedings relating to the possibility of a property being illegal should be on the register and failure to do so would leave the government liable.
Despite the ongoing problems, demand to move to Spain remains high among Britons.
The Foreign Office said 66pc of the enquiries it received at a property abroad conference last month were about Spain, compared to 24pc for France.
It has issued guidance on its website on how Britons can avoid being ripped off.
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The Spanish government said it had taken steps to ensure that “irregularities in the property market are finally settled”, adding that some reforms have already been introduced and that further legislation would protect potential buyers and those who already own homes in Spain.
Spain’s ambassador to London, Federico Trillo, told the Telegraph in July about his government’s efforts to improve investor confidence. “There has been a strong reaction by the Spanish government in this area,” he said.
“Britons buying overseas properties in Spain is vital for us. The government has sought to clarify the situation, with reforms that have already been introduced and others that are under way, to ensure the legislation protects potential investors and those that already have homes in Spain.”
The new Coastal Law, approved by parliament in May, was aimed at dealing with legislation that made it difficult for owners of seafront homes to refurbish or sell on their homes, and led to examples of expropriation without compensation.
The reforms made it possible to sell on concessions that previously could only be inherited.
The Spanish government has also insisted legislation is under way to legitimise tens of thousands of illegal properties.
It has attempted to bolster demand from other countries outside the EU with the ‘Golden Visa’ system.
It has prompted a 2,500 per cent increase in interest from Middle Eastern buyers in the year to date, compared with the same period in 2012, according to data from Taylor Wimpey España.
Since October 1 2013, any non-EU national coming to Spain with more than €500,000 to invest has been automatically granted a residency permit, which has resulted in increased interest not only from the Middle East, but also from Asia and Russia.
Official data showed foreigner buyers were behind 12pc of all home purchases in the third quarter, from June to September. Britons made up the biggest proportion of these, at 15pc, followed by the French (11.5pc) , Russians (9.35pc). Belgians (7.25pc) and Germans (6.9pc).
Spanish house prices were down 5.4pc on a year earlier, although this was an improvement from last year when prices were falling at an annual rate of nearly 14pc.
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Source; The Telegraph