Junta decree lets down thousands of owners of illegal homes

Fecha Publicación: 
13 Enero 2012

Only one in ten properties will be fully legalised; the vast majority remain in limbo - recognised and standing, but with limited rights

Sur in English | Noticia

Disappointed and angry. The decree approved by the Junta de Andalucía last Tuesday to legalise thousands of homes built in rural areas has fallen short of owners’ expectations.

After a year on the drawing board the new regulation, designed to find a solution to the tens of thousands of properties built on land classed as ‘no urbanizable’, has finally been passed. However owners with properties in this ‘illegal’ situation are disappointed to learn that only a small proportion of homes will be declared totally legal as a direct result of the new decree. In fact the vast majority of properties can only aspire to be recognised as what the decree calls ‘asimilado al régimen de fuera de ordenación’, a kind of ‘accepted but still not legal’ situation.

The approval of the decree was announced on Tuesday by the regional head of Public Works and Housing, Josefina Cruz Villalón. She explained that out of every ten properties built on non-urbanisable land, “one will be able to be legalised directly, eight will be recognised and given basic services, but not legalised, and one will have to be demolished”. In other words, ten per cent of all homes on land where construction was not permitted, will be pulled down.

Eighty per cent of illegal properties in the province of Malaga, and in the region of Andalucía as a whole, fall into the category of those entitled to apply to be declared ‘asimilado al régimen de fuera de ordenación’. These are mainly properties that do not comply with planning regulations and therefore cannot be granted a first occupancy licence, but which have been standing too long for the owners to be prosecuted for a planning offence and a demolition order issued by a court.

Owners whose homes are in this situation are far from satisfied with the decree, among other reasons, because it does not alter their ‘illegal’ status, and gives them no rights in administrative or criminal court proceedings. What’s more they believe that the decree devalues their properties, on which they can carry out no improvements except for those strictly considered to be essential repairs and maintenance work.

“What they are doing is leaving those of us who live in the countryside in an insecure position instead of regularising a situation that has been going on for the last 30 years. They have taken the comfortable and easy way out. For years they have imposed no controls, then they came up with a law (the LOUA) that has ruined many families and now they approve a decree that solves nothing. It is a total let down”, said the president of the Provincial Association of Irregular Homes, María del Mar Vázquez, last Tuesday.


Philip Smalley, the president of SOHA (Save our Homes Axarquía), told SUR that he felt “quite furious”. “We don’t know what we are going to do, except hope for a change in the Andalusian government, because the PSOE have shown with this decree that they are going to do nothing for us. We have been talking to the Junta for six years and now we realise that in the end they weren’t listening”, he said.

After last Tuesday’s meeting at which the decree was passed, Josefina Cruz Villalón explained that recognising the properties will allow them to access basic services, as they cannot be demolished because it is too late to prosecute, “but neither will they be legalised”.

Meanwhile the houses that will face demolition are those built on protected land or in areas at risk of natural damage, on a flood plain, for example. Also liable for demolition, according to the new decree, are those built recently enough for court proceedings to go ahead.

Opposition groups in the regional parliament were not slow in reacting to the decree. The PP spokesperson for Housing, Alicia Martínez, accused the Junta of “washing its hands” of the situation and “deceiving the general public” as, after the approval of the regularisation “the houses will still be illegal”.

On the other hand Izquierda Unida representative, José Antonio_Castro, described the decree as “an attempt to bring an end to 30 years of mismanagement on the part of the administration, banks and developers”.

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