Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Threat to sunshine homes

Shropshire holidaymakers who own properties in Spain could face the threat of a demolition order, a solicitor has warned.

Silvia Guillen, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is qualified in both UK and Spanish property law, and said many investors had been caught up in an illegal scam.

“There have been many reported cases of corrupt city planning, where overseas investors have bought holiday homes which are now threatened with demolition.

“This is because the properties have been built in unauthorised areas, without the correct licences or planning permission, and now many people fear their dream of a home in the sun may be under threat.”

But Silvia said judges in Spain assessed each case individually, and took into consideration that the buyers had probably purchased the house in “good faith”, believing that the land registry was correct.

“The Council of Public Works and Transport of Andalusia suggested modifying the General Urban Development Plan, which would protect around 85% of the properties built illegally, with only 15% needing to be demolished.

“The properties ordered for demolition would be likely to be any that have been built in green zones, school areas or other city development zones.”

Silvia said many judges were resisting the call for demolition orders to be placed, particularly when the buyers had already moved in to the property.

“This is not only because they are concerned about the buyers who purchased the properties in good faith, but also because they fear they could face huge compensation claims from the people who lose their homes.

“If the buyers are true victims of city-planning fraud, it’s clear that the judges should not make a demolition order. They should punish the people who have knowingly taken money from these British holidaymakers such as the constructors, promoters, civil employees, and politicians.

“There are a great number of cases where properties built without a licence have been sold to overseas holidaymakers, and they were told the documents were in order, or at worst, they would only face a fine to put the situation right

“Holidaymakers looking for a home in the sun must be protected from this illegal scam, and it’s vital they find the right professional advice to help their case before they commit to a purchase.”