British government intervenes to help expats caught in Spanish property scams

The situation is so severe that the government recently appointed a special overseas property advisor to help deal with it and to better understand the problems of those involved.

As a result, contentious issues such as illegal properties which do not have correct permits, cases where off-plan developments have not been built as specified and the length of time and cost involved in resolving property disputes were recently raised by the British ambassador to Spain with the Andalucian regional government and the Minister for Public Works and Housing.

A spokesman for the British Embassy in Spain said: “The UK government has no authority to interfere in any matters relating to Spanish domestic legislation, whether national, regional or local.

“However, we continue to express concern at the impact these problems are having on the lives of some of our citizens and Spain’s reputation abroad, and we have raised property issues with ministers in Spain and regional governments on numerous occasions.

“We understand the regional government is currently working with town halls in affected municipalities to draw up inventories of illegal properties and to seek solutions.

“We believe that the regularisation of these properties will come through updates and modifications to local town development plans.”

One of the cases being studied by the special overseas advisor is that put forward by the Abusos Urbanisticos Lliber – NO! (AULN) action group, made up of expats who bought 298 family homes in the upmarket, inland village of Lliber on the Costa Blanca more than ten years ago.

The area has been blighted as a consequence of the arrangements made between former town hall officials and builders to build with building licences granted by the town hall but without authority from regional government.

Wholesale construction continued from 1999-2004, by which time an estimated £60 million was handed over to developers by unsuspecting expat families and retired couples.

One of the victims, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “In 2004 the local environment agency, the college of architects and the guardia civil decided the homes were illegally built so building stopped.

“I took early retirement and with my wife, through an agency in Cheltenham, bought a three bedroom, three bathroom villa with swimming pool and views over the hills but we have no mains water, no electricity and we can’t sell because it is illegally built. We are in limbo. The embassy has been great with advice but their hands are tied. The Spanish just don’t want to know. It is a dirty, dirty business.”

Thanks to the action group and its members’ persistence, 2.4 million euros were recovered last year when police arrested the town hall architect and found the money in a private Andorran bank account.

A further 18 people are currently awaiting trial for corruption and fraud relating to the illegal building of homes in Lliber including the ex-mayor José Mas Avellá, British builder Trevor Bourne and agent Miguel Muntaner who had accumulated 100,000 sq of land in the Marina Alta as well as 16 houses and seven cars.

Only this week the Telegraph reported on the 300 Britons who lost an estimated £34 million after paying deposits on off-the-plan apartments in a proposed development called Estepona Beach and Country Club, 20 miles from Marbella.

In some cases, the prospective owners – many of whom were from Northern Ireland – put down an £85,000 deposit. However, the land still belonged to its original owner and the complex was never built.

As the overseas advisor continues to do her best to advise distraught expats and direct them to competent authorities and organisations which may be of assistance, the question has to be asked: why have scams been so prevalent in Spain?

Charles Svoboda, vice president of the Valencian action group Abusos Urbanisticos – No (AUN), who has been advising distraught British expats year after year, tole Telegraph Expat that it is simply because: “The laws are too lax and full of loopholes that tend to favour the scammers.

“There have been too many unscrupulous promoters, developers, estate agents, lawyers, notaries, town halls, etc involved in the process, whose main aim has been to make as much money as fast as possible.

“Their attitude has no concern about the lack of morality, let alone legality or corruption in all this. The sentiment that buyers are suckers who don’t understand anything here and can’t see past the beaches and bars when they buy is widespread.

“Some expats are naive enough to believe that things should work here as they do in the UK or northern Europe, when that is a pipe dream.

“And finally, the courts are slow and there are very few other recourses or ways to put things right here.”

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

One Response to “British government intervenes to help expats caught in Spanish property scams”

  1. BOB.DUNFORD says:

    First you are forgetting the Costa Blanca,Where there is 1.5 million illegal Homes without Mains Water Electricity.People from Britain .France.Germany.Ireland.Sweden.Holland, All paid there Fees to a Spanish Lawyers.And thought they were buying a Legal Property .Speaking to a Spanish Honest Lawyer who told me the Law of Spain, Lets get this right.First thing a Spanish Student of Law is told in his University.is that he could loose his Licence to Practice LAW, If he ever was found out to be Conspiring to Deal in anything Illegal DRUGS.Illegal Jewellery.Illegal property.Illegal Land.
    First when a Buyer comes to see a Spanish Abogado.(Solicitor)And pays him a Fee .He is no Longer a Suspected Buyer but a Client of the Abogado.And must be Protected by The Spanish Law.The Abogado must never Sale him anything Illegal.He must Check out the Property the Client,What he wants to Buy.From the Owner.has THE PROPERTY GOT Water /Electricity a Human Rights Agreement.Telephone.And no Money Owed on the Property.The Property Deeds are then Signed by the Abogado making his work Legal.He Sends the Property Deeds to the Notary.Who Checks all the Abogado’s Results.And then Passes the Property Deeds to the Land Registry.The Land Registry Checks the Area The House was Built, The Land that the House was Built on to.Size of the House.SIZE OF THE LAND.HOW MANY Rooms.Ext.And then Ask’s the Local Council Planning Department to Check, It all out if the House was Registered.Ext If no Fault are Found the Property Deeds will be sent back to the Notary. But if there is any Illegally Found .At All.The Notary must be Informed. So the House Cannot be a Sold.So really if all is done Correct the Law is Upheld .There cannot be any illegal Property Sold.But if it is then it must be Fraud .The Lawyers must Loose there Licence to Practice and Maybe a Prison Sentence.And all Monies Gathered in a Fraud must be Paid Back.Including Value of House.Lawyer Fees.Council Tax.And a Compensation to the Buyer ,So he can Buy a Legal Property,This is the Law of Spain,What is Taught.The Spanish Law,
    THE VERY FIRST QUESTION A SPANISH JUDGE WOULD ASK IN A SPANISH COURT WOULD BE TO THE SPANISH LAWYERS WHO WERE INVOLVED.DID YOU SALE.A ILLEGAL HOUSE OR PROPERTY.DID YOU SIGN.OR STAMP A ILLEGAL PROPERTY DEEDS,IF SO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS YOU HAVE CAUSED FRAUD.
    THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT /AND THE BRITISH EMBASSY SAID THEY CANNOT INTERFERE WITH SPANISH LAW.BUT IF THE SPANISH LAW IS NOT UPHELD .THEN THEY MUST INTERFERE.PLEASE WRITE TO ALL YOUR EUROPEAN MPS.I WILL GIVE YOU THREE.marta.andreasen-office@europarl.europa.eu—info@sharonbowles.org .uk——–michael.cashman@europarl.europa.eu PLEASE WE ALL MUST DO SOME THING THEY KNOW THEY ALL HAVE BROKEN THE SPANISH LAWS.WE HAVE BEEN HONEST AND PAID THEM OUR MONEY.WE DESERVE A LEGAL PROPERTY WITH MAINS WATER ELECTRICITY.AND OUR HUMAN RIGHTS GIVEN BACK.AND ALLOWED TO BE PROUD IN SPAIN.

Leave a Reply