October 2015

First Success for New Law

The five family homes belonging to English pensioners in Oria, Almeria, which were threatened with demolition, will not be demolished; The Public Prosecutor decided to waive the demolition order, mindful of the recent law regarding buildings owned by buyers who bought in good faith.
This change to the Public Ministry’s charges , and the application of undue extended delay to reduce the terms of imprisonment and fines demanded for the promotors and builders for contravening planning laws, has made an out of court settlement possible. This was ratified in Almeria’s Criminal Court 2.

Gerardo Vázquez, legal advisor to AUAN (the Almerian equivalent of SOHA), and lawyer representing two of the accused, (an octogenarian British couple), stressed the importance of the decision, and hopes that it will be followed in similar cases awaiting judgement, so that step by step the problem could be resolved to the benefit of everyone.

In the same vein, Julián Cazorla, the lawyer for another of the accused, also stated that the solution found in this case has opened the door for future cases. He further said that above all, the result relieved his foreign clients, who in reality were the victims, from their anxiety.

So at last there is a recognition that owners, who bought their houses in good faith and then are threatened with having their homes demolished, are the victims of a heartless bureaucratic injustice.

It is also clear that we would still be waiting for a solution to this problem if it were not for the formation and unceasing hard work of the associations like SOHA and AUAN. With the help of lawyers like Gerardo Vázquez, they lobbied and demonstrated to make the changes to Spanish law in both the Criminal Code and the Civil Code. The Oria settlement would surely never have been made without those changes to the law. Anyone who has hired a lawyer to solve these problems will realise that this progress has not come cheaply. Your 25€ annual fee per household is now looking like incredible value!

In essence the change to the law gives a Judge the right to insist (when ordering a demolition of a house which was bought in good faith) that compensation is paid to owners before the demolition.
The Priors, whose house was demolished 7 years ago, are still waiting for the compensation to which an EU court ruled that they were entitled. Under the present law it is hoped that owners who bought in good faith will never again suffer the Prior’s appalling injustice.

Photos at soha.es

Alcaucin Plans Viewed

SOHA made the plans available to the public at La Era Restaurant, Puente Don Manuel, on Thursday.
170 interested people made their way to view the plans, and get advice from the SOHA Committee members who gave their time to help.

This event seems to have provided a good opportunity for Alcaucin residents to find out what is planned for their homes, and for SOHA to explain their aims difficulties and successes.

At and after the event, 6 Households became members of SOHA
Sincere thanks to the 6 new member households. We need your support, and we are sure you will be getting good value.
Sincere thanks, as well for the 45€ donated to the fighting fund by generous residents at the event.

Photos at soha.es

Next on the SOHA Agenda

SOHA has been invited by Ciudadanos, (the political party with whom we stand in elections) to attend the meeting at Sevilla, where the Junta de Andalucia will discuss proposed changes to the LOUA. (The LOUA is the planning law for Andalucia)
AUAN, our Almerian equivalent group, have also been invited to attend, by PSOE (the political party with whom they stand in elections).
Phil Smalley, Mario Blanke and Fernando Montero will be attending on behalf of SOHA, and Maura Hillan will be be among those attending for AUAN.
The change being debated covers the section of the law governing non urbanisable land parcelled up for construction.
The change will allow EXISTING constructions more than six years old to be declared Asimilado como Fuera de Ordenacion
The issue is rather complex, so the full explanation will be given in the next Monthly update, hopefully after the changes have been made.

Housing:
Found in BoT 130 signs of revival

‘As British property investors resume their love affair with Spain, it’s the Costa Blanca which is proving to be top choice, accounting for 27 per cent of Spanish mortgage enquiries received at Conti over the last three years. And Spain continues to be top of the list for British buyers in general, accounting for just under half (45 per cent) of enquiries received by the company in the second quarter of 2015…’. From The Economic Voice.

Insuring “illegal” Houses

This question has been raised by SOHA members in an email to Maria, the Membership Secretary. This is an excerpt from the email;

“… on the subject of …. Building and Contents Insurance on a property that has, or is likely to have, it’s building licence revoked, and therefore be deemed illegal.
Has anyone determined whether an insurance company would pay up on the event of an insurable claim such as a fire? As far as we understand it, insurers tend not to ask the question as to the legality of a house on the proposal form, but we assume that it would probably be an issue in the event of a claim. Would…….. the membership have any experience of this specific situation, and if so, what was the outcome?”

If any members have had experience of such claims, would they be kind enough to relate them to us, so that in next month’s News Update we can give some helpful information on this important topic.
Email Michael Stevenson <stevenson2ml@gmail.com> with your answers and comments, please.

Recent Posts

Spanish Government accused of pushing illegal homes to Britons

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.

Join SOHA and fight this injustice here.

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.

You can Donate to help SOHA fight against these problems here.

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.

Join SOHA and fight this injustice here.

Source; The Telegraph