Thursday, February 19, 2009

The background to the problem

The whole issue of Spanish planning violations is now coming to a head. In the  Almanzora Valley, for example , over 6000 illegal homes were built without permission. In Andalucía alone, it is estimated that there could hundreds of thousands of illegal homes and buildings which now have to be found and either legalized or demolished.

The whole situation started off in the ‘80s and ‘90s when local builders would simply ask for permission from the local mayor and the neighbours; complete their  building and after 7 years if nobody complained it would be deemed “legal”. Of course nobody did complain because their own houses were also illegal.

Since nobody in the town halls bothered to enforce the laws regulating building;  the work continued. The Junta de Andalucía was  happy to have lots of employment around and so took no interest in controlling the situation. After all, the Junta didn’t get any taxes from the individual construction of houses (that went to the local town halls), but it did benefit from a greater population which brought larger handouts from central government and employment.

Earlier in this decade, we got to a situation where somebody in the EU started asking questions to Madrid about these huge numbers of  illegal houses all along the south coast. Madrid was embarrassed that they didn’t know what was going on. The Junta's reaction was to demolish  the home of an English couple in Vera, just to make a point. A complete overreaction, but the theory was that they had to show they were being firm.

Of course, this gross overreaction simply infuriated everybody. So we’re now in a situation where nobody is quite sure what to do. The Junta is very cautiously testing the waters by legalizing the illegal homes in the Almanzora Valley.

Many of the people, who bought homes in Andalucia, fell foul to crooked developers, builders, lawyers and even notary publics that conspired in unethical if not outright illegal practices to fool them into believing that their homes were legal. Clearly some people may have ignored due diligence, but many purchasers  were miss-sold or lied to by supposedly “independent” legal experts.

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