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Can I just quickly check something: on TV last night here there was a TV programme that talked about houses that were illegally built and so could be knocked down.
Is this something that is easy to avoid when buying a house in Spain?
 

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Can I just quickly check something: on TV last night here there was a TV programme that talked about houses that were illegally built and so could be knocked down.
Is this something that is easy to avoid when buying a house in Spain?
oooh, thats the billion dollar question!! I know the programme you mean and altho there was a certain ammount of sensationalism by the programme makers, demolitions have happened thru no fault of the owners, more to do with the laws constantly changing, greedy developers and greedy mayors!

There have been quite a few laws changes and majors imprisoned since that programme, so it is fairly rare, however, it does happen.

Providing you use a good independant solicitor, who is not working for the other side as well, go thru a trust worthy and knowledgeable agent and do your own research, you should be fine. My friends are estate agents who have lived and worked in this area for several years and they could probably tell you which houses are and are not legal here. I'm sure any good agent would be the same in any area.

Failing that, I personally would rent in Spain before buying so that you get a feel for whats what and you're not risking your life savings if you're worried

Jo xxx
 

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There are any number of 'illegal homes' in Spain: one newspaper quotes 60,000 in Andalucía alone. 'Illegal homes' are usually homes built with the connivence of the town hall which needs the tax income and will often have private relationships between the authorities and the promoters. The regional authority essentially wants 'in' on this.
Furthermore, don't buy 'off-plan' as many of these houses will never be built.
There are several good property-owner sites available, including the AUN in Valaencia and the AUAN in Almeria.
The damage of all this to the Spanish economy is evident to everyone - except the spanish authorities...
 

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Can I just quickly check something: on TV last night here there was a TV programme that talked about houses that were illegally built and so could be knocked down.
Is this something that is easy to avoid when buying a house in Spain?
Yes. Basically check that the property is registered fully in the Registro de Propriedad and in Catastro. You should use a gestoria to check these as they will ensure that proper notary deeds, references etc are registered and are fully certified by Registro de Propriedad (akin to Land Registry in the UK).

Although the last experience I had, the Registro de Propriedad was not mandatory (Catastro is mandatory) - the Registro de Propriedad is rapidly becoming the standard as it is in the UK and many buyers won't go any further if the property is not registered there. The reason for this is that without a full set of paperwork, permits, taxes paid etc it cannot be registered - therefore this registration elimates a lot of risks.

Obviously do bear in mind that nothing will protect you from expropriation and Spain has an awful lot of infrastructure works going on with high speed trains and motorways, etc. One can only do as much as possible when it comes to doing one's own searches - things like a plot or two in an urban zone that is not allowed to be built on might be a clue to something going through there at some stage in the future. Also worth checking the "fomento" site for any studies on infrastructure which mention the name of the place where you live, etc. Other than the above, the only document I would say you should definitely have and which should be available from your ayuntamiento is the latest "plan de urbanismo" which in our case goes back to 1992 so don't expect a very up to date one necessarily. We in this part of Galicia have been waiting for "the new plan" (plan xeneral) for some years now and although we started building in 2006 with the fear of "hurry up, it might be frozen" here we are at the end of 2009 and still waiting for the plan to come through from the Galician government. Nevertheless, old as it may be, the latest plan from 1992 is still the official document and so if I were buying a house today and that house was not within the building areas permitted by that plan, that would lead me to not touch it just to avoid any issues!!

A good gestoria will be able to take you through the steps.

Tallulah.x:)
 

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Well we know of one couple who thought they purchased their home legally, 15 years ago, but it's now being bulldozed.

We know of a Spanish family who had part of their very old family campo land taken, 5 years ago, so a new road could be built. They've been told they may get some money........ one day and they seem to accept that.

We tried to avoid any question of possibly buying and losing a home by buying an old townhouse in the centre of town. We're losing the house anyway because the roof fell in and the insurance won't pay anything even though we had buildings and contents insurance.

There's a currently a petition to the EU parliment due to so many people losing their homes for one reason or another. (I'll try and find the link and you can read some of the stories of how even the college of lawyers don't bother to reply when someone reports a lawyer for wrong doing.

Personally, knowing what I know now I would never buy a property in Spain. For me the dream has begun turning into a nightmare, after 6 years. Having said that there are people, I know, that have bought and lived in their homes for years and they haven't had any problems at all....... yet!
 

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We tried to avoid any question of possibly buying and losing a home by buying an old townhouse in the centre of town. We're losing the house anyway because the roof fell in and the insurance won't pay anything even though we had buildings and contents insurance.
You don't say why the roof fell in. If it was due to a "natural disaster" - severe storm, lightning etc then your insurance company should have pointed you in the direction of the Concorcio

The role of the Spanish Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros

My experience with them was excellent - i.e. they paid up - assessor came to see my collapsed wall and agreed a figure within 15 minutes for storm damage and I had the cash € 1500 within 2 weeks.

Mind you if the roof was rotten/woodworm etc .............
 

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Personally, knowing what I know now I would never buy a property in Spain. For me the dream has begun turning into a nightmare, after 6 years. Having said that there are people, I know, that have bought and lived in their homes for years and they haven't had any problems at all....... yet!
I'm sorry to hear of your nightmare ... what were the circumstances of the roof collapsing. Can it not be repaired?

I think you'll find though the percentage of ex pats actually having problems is relatively small. Some of course ask for it by not doing the right research or making the purchase in completely the wrong circumstances, but there are still those that get caught .. such as the Priors and others .... Spain does itself no favours by allowing these miscarriages of justice take place, and damages its building industry terribly

I think though to give the impression that this problem is rife might be a little misleading
 

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It's rife all right.
The Olive Press (Granada) reports 60,000 illegal homes in Andalucía (not including those that fall under the new Ley de Costas).
The 'delegado provincial de obras y viviendas', Luis Cáparros (who ordered the Prior's demolition) talks about 11,000 'illegal homes' in Eastern Almería - all in small and moribund interior towns.
Catral in Alicante has 1,300 illegal homes (El País October 2006). Several other towns also suffer from corruption and illegal homes and/or urbanisations, San Fulgencio, Torrevieja, La Nucia, Polop (where they shot the mayor). I think it's a pretty big risk. The Ciudadanos Europeos and the AUN both advise against buying a house in Spain at the present time.
Lastly, these problems - which are never aired in Spain - are all over the rest of Europe. See Paradise Lost (translated into Spanish) - you won't see it on Spanish TV.
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It needs to be fixed - not ignored.
 

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The Olive Press .... right :)

I know of your kind involvement Lenox, I read your stuff from time to time. I'm always acknowledging that there is a problem, but you know yourself that there were a percentage of people who knew what they were getting into but the lure of a cheap property was just too much. The fact that it backfired due to changing interpretations of law (I'm being kind there!:)) was of course extremely unfortunate. People were still buying properties on the large urbs knowing they were illegal, such as Chiclana. A further percentage it is said will be legalised on payment of "fees".

But overall, are you aware of how many ex pat (I'm not talking just Brits) properties there are now in Spain as a whole? The figures I saw were 4.7 million foreign residents, of course not all of which will be property owners. Dont forget though that there will also be a huge number of foreigners that havent registered at all, and holiday home owners also.

So I'm not trying to make out that there isnt a problem ...... but its been said by some that its just too much of a risk buying a property in Spain at all, and I dont believe that to be true as a generalisation

What do you think of the theory that they will legalise a lot of the properties to restore confidence in the housing industry and to encourage buyers??
 

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I think that the problem is one that Spain has to face. Whether a larger or smaller proportion of foreign home-owners have been, in some way, gypped, the point is that Spain's reputation as a retirement destination has been shattered. The Spanish seem largely unaware of this (their newspapers don't discuss the problem) and jobs and foreign money are stiffled.
I suppose, in some way, my indignation is for the plight of the Priors, who bought in good faith with town hall permits and so on only to have their house pulled about their ears two years ago. An elderly couple living in a garage for no good purpose whatsoever.
I would certainly like to see the Spanish authorities acknowledge this particular source of income from the millions of wealthier foreigners who own homes here, bringing in funds from abroad, Perhaps an agency which protected, advised, defended and compensated well-meaning Europeans who sought/seek to live here.
 

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I think that the problem is one that Spain has to face. Whether a larger or smaller proportion of foreign home-owners have been, in some way, gypped, the point is that Spain's reputation as a retirement destination has been shattered. The Spanish seem largely unaware of this (their newspapers don't discuss the problem) and jobs and foreign money are stiffled.
I suppose, in some way, my indignation is for the plight of the Priors, who bought in good faith with town hall permits and so on only to have their house pulled about their ears two years ago. An elderly couple living in a garage for no good purpose whatsoever.
I would certainly like to see the Spanish authorities acknowledge this particular source of income from the millions of wealthier foreigners who own homes here, bringing in funds from abroad, Perhaps an agency which protected, advised, defended and compensated well-meaning Europeans who sought/seek to live here.
I'm not a political animal but my experience of things round here (Arboleas area) is that the local authorities have indeed recognised that the economy relies heavily on immigrant ('cos that's what we are) money and are trying to sort out the problem of illegal builds.

One of the main problems they have though is Brit expats working against them instead of with them. We all know what's happened but there's only one way all this will be sorted and that's by everyone working together to achieve, what is after all, a common goal

I'll probably get shot down for this but I can only tell it how I see it.



Doggy
 

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I'm not a political animal but my experience of things round here (Arboleas area) is that the local authorities have indeed recognised that the economy relies heavily on immigrant ('cos that's what we are) money and are trying to sort out the problem of illegal builds.

One of the main problems they have though is Brit expats working against them instead of with them. We all know what's happened but there's only one way all this will be sorted and that's by everyone working together to achieve, what is after all, a common goal

I'll probably get shot down for this but I can only tell it how I see it.



Doggy

I'm not polical either, but I'm not sure all the demonstrations etc really help???? Sadly its only an issue for for those involved, which, in the grand scheme of things isnt that many and as sad as I, or anyone else may feel, I get the impression that demonstrating and making a fuss locally, doesnt help (I could be wrong, but thats how it seems). Whats needed is "real" higher intervention - but even then as we know, spain is a big country with too many little regions who dont seem to be in touch and are still a tad on the corrupt side???? We all know its wrong, I'm sure even the Spanish do, but I think there is still an element of Spanish who dont care about or want the expats in their community and are bit indignant at the way "we" come over and build our flash houses on their land - of course they dont care about that when they take the money!?

Thats how I see it????

Jo xxx
 

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I'm not a political animal but my experience of things round here (Arboleas area) is that the local authorities have indeed recognised that the economy relies heavily on immigrant ('cos that's what we are) money and are trying to sort out the problem of illegal builds.

One of the main problems they have though is Brit expats working against them instead of with them. We all know what's happened but there's only one way all this will be sorted and that's by everyone working together to achieve, what is after all, a common goal

I'll probably get shot down for this but I can only tell it how I see it.



Doggy
Well, I won't be loading my gun as I think you are right.:)
I especially appreciate the fact that you are aware that we are 'immigrants'. On principal, I never describe myself as an expat. Just as Somalis, Pakistanis etc. are immigrants to the UK, so Brits are immigrants in Spain. Thankyou for that.
I really am sorry for the plight of people like the Priors and we must never lose sight of individual hardship and suffering. But there is a larger picture which reflects badly on both sides, both British and Spanish.
Many Spaniards and Spanish local authorities saw the immigrant influx as a goose laying many golden eggs and shady deals were struck and dodgy money made. Now, anxious to lose its reputation as a corrupt banana republic and spurred by the EU, Spain is making huge efforts to bring malefactors to book and clean up its image. In this process, innocents will suffer.
But I also see a kind of neo-colonialism in the attitude of some Brits to Spain. A cheap place to retire in the sun and form little Britain overseas - not too strange and foreign, affordable on modest retirement incomes. Buying property here seen as a right - imagine the reaction of the Daily Mail if a million Spaniards bought or rented property in the UK. Remember the screaming headline of a year or so ago: 'A million Poles to come to Britain'.
I remember the comment from a recent tv programme: 'If you had a pulse and a passport you got a mortgage'.
So you are right: the problem hasn't been created by one side only. Greedy Spaniards and 'bent' local officials: yes. Immigrants wanting, quite reasonably, to enjoy a sun-soaked retirement in properties in someone else's country which they could perhaps only dream of in the UK - also a part of a 'problem' that can be solved only by mutual trust and co-operation on both sides.
A sense of entitlement on the part of British immigrants, however justified, will not expedite matters.
Incidentally, we bought property in Canada at the height of the Spanish boom, property which we sold a couple of years ago at a reasonable profit. We paid a large amount of tax to Revenue Canada on the profit which is only fair, IMHO. I have experienced a few pangs of regret that we didn't invest in Spain but they get fewer as the days pass.
 

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I would certainly like to see the Spanish authorities acknowledge this particular source of income from the millions of wealthier foreigners who own homes here, bringing in funds from abroad, Perhaps an agency which protected, advised, defended and compensated well-meaning Europeans who sought/seek to live here.
Using funds from the generality of Spanish taxpayers?to compensate losers in the property market? Smacks of socialism.:)
As a supporter of the free market system, I reluctantly accept there will be some losers in any commercial transaction. The ultimate responsibility lies with the purchaser. Caveat emptor is an excellent maxim. When in doubt, do nowt.
Strange how, whenever there is a market failure, people look to governments for compensation but recoil with horror at the very thought of any kind of state intervention in 'good times' in the form of a tax on their profits.
The planning and property system in many foreign countries is totally unilke that of the UK or other Anglo-Saxon countries. Spain has always had a reputation for being a minefield in this and other respects. Hence the phrase 'old Spanish custom'.
An examination of Spanish local government structures would surely indicate that responsibility for planning permissions does not ultimately reside in the immediate local authority, especially where agricultural land is concerned. In the UK we have agreed structure plans which 'zone' areas for different types of development. Here in Spain the issue seems to be opaque and confused, to say the least.
And that's one very good reason for hesitating before signing up for the 'dream home'.
Because we had insufficient knowledge of the complexities of the laws relating to property purchase and had a lack of confidence in our ability to rely on our own judgment of facts provided by others, we decided not to buy outside of a legal and property structure with which we were familiar.
In some countries it is very difficult to purchase property unless you are a national of that country or have close family connections.
 

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I think the idea of Brits coming over here and creating a "little britain", although valid in reality, is not taking into consideration human nature.

For instance, the Germans live in their own little areas, the Dutch, the French. Javea was described as "French" to me when I first came over here. Moraira was "German" There is a street over the mountain here where someone has put up a german style sign "Bergstrasse"! The entire street is owned by Germans.

So its not an English trait. Its human nature for some to flock to an area where their countrymen reside. Support I guess.

But its for sure that all nationalities have been effected by this crime. I agree with you though Lenox, the Spanish authorities need to understand what a huge amount of damage all this is doing to their economy.
 

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You don't say why the roof fell in. If it was due to a "natural disaster" - severe storm, lightning etc then your insurance company should have pointed you in the direction of the Concorcio

The role of the Spanish Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros

My experience with them was excellent - i.e. they paid up - assessor came to see my collapsed wall and agreed a figure within 15 minutes for storm damage and I had the cash € 1500 within 2 weeks.

Mind you if the roof was rotten/woodworm etc .............
It was a torrential rain storm - it was raining when we left for the airport and we arrived in England during the early hours. When we all got up in the morning and my husband turned his mobile on he had numerous voicemails from our neighbour and the townhall. The firebrigade and police had been called because some of the roof tiles had slid forward and crashed into the street. The firebrigade then covered the hole with plastic but rain was still getting inside and doing more and more damage.

Our neihbour moved what he could out of the front 2 bedrooms, where the hole was, and we also called our insurance company and arranged for the assessor to be met at the property. The assessor said he was putting in a report for the insurance to pay urgently and we should get quotes. We flew back early but by then more of the roof had fallen in and it was very obvious it would be unsafe to live in - it was still raining too!

We got quotes and waited to hear from the insurance company but didn't hear anything so we called them. Finally we received a letter to say they wouldn't pay because a) there wasn't enough rain. b) there wasn't enough wind. We were told if part of the neighbour's roof had fallen on to ours then they would have paid.

Our English neighbours 2 doors down also had a lot of leaking at the same time and their insurance wouldn't pay either. 2 Spanish neighbours had their roofs repaired by the townhall so we asked them for help with ours but were told they hadn't repaired the neighbour's roofs even though they had sign boards up outside!

So, in total there were 4 houses in our street that all suffered roof damage due to the severe rain storm. The 2 Spanish houses got repaired even though they didn't even have any insurance. The 2 English houses got no help and neither insurance company will pay.

I wrote to the Consorcio and their reply was that the insurance should pay but there was no information on how to actually get them to pay and we haven't heard from the Consorcio since. Our lawyers have told us we will win in court but it will cost €2000 for an architect's report and €5000 for legal fees and court costs. It will take 2 years and then the insurance company will appeal, if they lose. We will then have to pay more legal fees and court costs plus wait even longer. In the meantime we have to pay to live somewhere and keep up all mortgage payments on our home - not easy when you're autonomo in a recession with 3 young kids. If we could afford the legal costs and paying the mortgage on a house we can't live in for 4 years we'd just pay to get the work done ourselves.

The insurance company are Groupama and we're told they're notorious for not paying out - wish we'd known that when the bank first arranged insurance. A local insurance company even told us that she has never been able to get Groupama to pay on any claim.

By the way, here's the link I mentioned in my first post - I'd suggest anyone thinking of buying property in Spain, reads through the many stories of people who thought they were buying by the book but got stung!

Home - spanishpropertyscandalpetition
 

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Well - three houses were demolished today in Galicia - see El Pais. Twenty one houses in some small town had permits from the town hall... but not from the Xunta de Galicia.
Of course, this time they were Spanish homes. One house - the occupants had lived there for four years. The wife collapsed and was taken to hospital.
 

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From a letter I just received (some family living in an 'illegal house' in Almería, on 'builders electric' etc):

...All we want is to live out our lives in peace, and enjoy this wonderful country, among the good Spanish people. Surely this is our fundamental basic human right.
We think the Spanish government should consider the following:
1. Take away the threat of demolition.
2. Allow us to gain mains electricity and water. We can then contribute to the local councils and pay our bills correctly as we would all wish to do.
3. Sequester the assets of the builders and developers who have acted illegally, and use this to carry out any further work to enable developments such as ours to become fully legal.
4. Further punish those responsible, by applying the criminal laws of Spain.
5. Use any money remaining to compensate the victims (legal expenses, etc.)...
 

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You don't say why the roof fell in. If it was due to a "natural disaster" - severe storm, lightning etc then your insurance company should have pointed you in the direction of the Concorcio

The role of the Spanish Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros

My experience with them was excellent - i.e. they paid up - assessor came to see my collapsed wall and agreed a figure within 15 minutes for storm damage and I had the cash € 1500 within 2 weeks.

Mind you if the roof was rotten/woodworm etc .............
I just checked the Consorcio website again just to be sure there's nothing I've missed and it seems the reason they told us the insurance should pay is because they don't actually cover

"However, not included in this concept of flooding are the results of rainfall falling directly on the insured risk, or that collected by its roof or roof terrace,"
 
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