British Dreams at Risk in Almer­a

Spanish Property purchase

16.11.2006

British home owners living in Spain face fresh anguish as new fears emerge about the legitimacy of building licences issued in Spain.

In the latest property scandal to rock the country Mayors and city councillors from a number of villages across the Andalusian province of Almer­a have been summoned to the county courts following alleged irregularities in the issuing of building permits.

This follows the scandal in March this year which led to the Mayoress and several councillors in Marbella being jailed after being found guilty of accepting payments from builders and ignoring building laws in exchange for large financial handouts.

Representatives from the villages of Albox, Cantoria, Garrucha, Oria, Paraloa and Zurgena, in Almer­a, have been summoned to the County Courts of Hurcal-Overa, Purchena and Vera after several developments were identified as not complying with the appropriate regulations.

Spanish property law

Included in the properties currently under investigation is the Almanzora Country Club housing development, in Valle de la Romana of Cuevas del Almanzora, where the building of 1,500 houses on the land has been suspended by the court until enquiries have been concluded.

Court orders have already been issued for the demolition of eleven houses in Albox, which had previously been given planning permission.

Many of these residences, which were built on land designated as suelo no urbanizable (roughly translated as land designated as not for building') have been sold to British residents who had thought they had bought their dream home for a life in the sun on Almer­a.

Spanish Law expert

"The situation is not good, but it is a timely reminder to look for proper independent legal advice before buying a property" advised Jose Maria de Lorenzo from law firm Irwin Mitchell Abogados based in Marbella and Madrid, as well as offices across the UK.

Jose Continued "Anyone looking to buy a house in Spain should seek the advice of a reputable and experienced abogado (solicitor) who will thoroughly investigate the property and be able to tell you whether the house you intend to purchase is in the affected area; this is the most effective way to safeguard your investment".

"For those people who already have a property which they think might be at risk they should also get legal representation immediately.

This is a very complicated situation and each individual, family and their property needs to be considered separately, however it is vitally important that each and everyone are considered. A group action is one of the options which we would consider.

However if a property owner has already received notification from a local authority then they need to act quickly. They should consult a lawyer immediately as time limits given by public authorities are extremely short from the moment notification is given, in some cases as little as 20 days or less."