Britons who bought homes in Spain that have been declared illegal will now be compensated before any demolition.
Britons whose dream homes in Spain have been declared illegal and threatened with demolition should now be able to claim compensation before the bulldozers move in, after a legal change by the Spanish Senate.
According to an amendment to Spain’s penal code, agreed upon by members of the ruling Popular Party and opposition Socialists, judges will in future have the power to stay the execution of a demolition order until compensation has been provided to the property owner, as long as they can demonstrate they bought the house in good faith.
There are an estimated 300,000 illegal homes across Andalucia. Many foreign buyers complain that property agents and even town hall officials failed to inform them of the legal situation during the purchase process.
The AUAN association, which represents the owners of over 12,000 illegal homes in the Andalucian Valley of Almanzora and which had pressed for the reform, guardedly celebrated this new legal protection for house buyers. Gerardo Vázquez, an AUAN lawyer, said that the amendment “protects good-faith buyers, but does not go as far as would have wished”.
AUAN, many of whose members are Britons who unsuspectingly bought houses in Almeria, wants such properties to be made legal and for occupants to be able to get proper water and electricity supplies, services which are often denied to properties declared to have been built without legal permits.
The razing of four homes belonging to British pensioners in the Almerian village of Cantoria last November prompted AUAN to begin the lobbying process which led to the Senate amendment.
AUAN is supporting the attempt by one British couple to challenge the demolition order on their Andalucian home in the European Court of Human Rights, citing the right to property ownership as enshrined by the European Court of Human Rights.