Help for property victims

Fecha Publicación: 
27 Enero 2011

Round Town News |  Noticia

Home owners have won new protection in sweeping reforms announced by the Spanish state to protect against rogue traders.

Ambassador Giles Paxman has described the changes as “encouraging property news” that affected all expats whose dream moves to the sun had turned sour – especially in coastal housing hotspots.

And he explained that while the Embassy could not get involved in individual cases it did constantly raise general issues with the national and regional Spanish governments.

In his official blog the diplomat wrote: “There’s some good news recently for British people faced with property purchases in Spain that have back-fired, building projects that did not meet the requirements of Spanish law, or constructors who’ve simply gone bankrupt and left houses unfinished.”

At the end of last month, he said Spain introduced legal reforms in its Criminal Code to increase penalties for town planning crimes and prevented those found guilty from profiting from breaking the law.


“They include punishing public officials who allow illegal properties to be built and stricter penalties for corruption. Courts can now order the perpetrator to pay the costs of restoring the land to its original state, without affecting the compensation owed to purchasers who bought in good faith.”

Mr Paxman said a court ruling also shielded people buying property off plan and issued with a bank guarantee. The Cantabria judge said purchasers had the right to demand the bank refund the money paid in advance if the home was not completed as promised.

“This may sound obvious but, surprisingly, many banks had found ways to avoid paying,” he said.

And the diplomat said the regional government of Andalucia had announced it was preparing new regulations to deal with the large numbers of illegally built properties – including legalising them where possible and issuing minimum licences to allow homes to remain even when not included in a town plan.

“We are working with the regional authorities to get more information on how these proposals will work and the timeframe involved.”


Further, Mr Paxman said a court in Almeria ruled that although a property built more than six years ago did not comply with town planning regulations, the owners had the right to basic utilities such as water and electricity.

“It is not clear whether this ruling will set any kind of legal precedent for similar cases, but it may be seen as a glimmer of hope for those who are currently living in illegal properties without access to water and electricity,” he added.

However, Mr Paxman said while all the changes should offer some comfort to the owners affected, his advice for anyone considering buying property in Spain was to seek independent legal and financial advice throughout the entire process and ensure they had the correct paperwork before signing contracts.

“We try to give British nationals as much advice as we can about how to avoid problems when buying property and who to turn to if they find themselves in trouble,” concluded the ambassador.


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