Property owners in Spain continue to fight to legalise homes declared illegal

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Property owners in some parts of Spain are still battling against the demolition of homes as the illegal building saga continues.

Many had hoped for reprieves recently as politicians at a local and national level vowed to sort out the mess which resulted from corrupt planning officials granting permits in return for considerable bribes from developers. It has left whole communities not knowing if their properties are to be declared legal or not.

In one village in Catalonia, north of Barcelona, the courts have just ruled that around 40 properties must be demolished by December 5. The Sun Village development in Paula-Saverdera is mostly holiday homes that were bought by British and Dutch real estate investors. But around eight families do live there all year round. It was built on land that had planning permission for a hotel, not residential buildings.

Now the owners say that they will be seeking €12 million damages amounting to some €310,000 per property if the demolition goes ahead.

This case illustrates the extent of the problems faced by property owners caught up in the whole illegal building saga in Spain. The Mayor, who originally approved the planning application in 2001, now says that he is behind the home owners and will do everything that he can to fight the demolition order.

But it would appear that this may not be because he regrets his decision. Mayor Narcis Deusedas told the local newspaper that the municipality simply cannot afford to pay the damages being sought. ‘It would be a death sentence for the village,’ he said.

Meanwhile in Andalucía hundreds of property owners near the town of Albox who are caught in the llegal housing trap just want to be connected to water and electricity supplies that have been denied them because the development has been declared illegal as it has never been officially signed off because it was built on unsegregated rustic plots for agricultural use.

The local council wants €850 for a licence to approve the development as well as a range of other fees including architects fees, notary fees, registration fees, taxes and stamp duty for the development to be legalised.

Property owners point out that as part of the regularisation process they are required to sign a declaration that they are the promoter of the property as most do not have a 10 year guarantee. ‘By declaring that you are the promoter you run the risk of prejudicing yourself in the eyes of the court if you subsequently find that your house is subject to litigation. As we believe that many houses are subject to litigation in the valley this is a very great risk.

As a self proclaimed promoter you also make yourself responsible for funding the future provision of infrastructure,’ said a statement from campaigning group AUAN (Action 4 Almanzora).

The group points out that owners have already paid the developer for services such as water and electricity that have never been provided.

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