THE call has gone out to expats to use their right to vote in local elections to help get an amendment passed in the Senate to guarantee protection to people who bought ‘illegal’ homes in good faith.
Homeowners groups in Malaga and Almeria say that the chances of the amendment being passed are “currently 50/50 at best” and that the proposed change to the Criminal Code is a “golden opportunity” to take a step forward.
The SOHA homeowners group in the Axarquia and its sister association AUAN in Almeria are calling on all political parties to support the change to the code that would provide compensation for owners who purchased illegal properties in good faith before demolition.
“The amendment has been proposed by the PSOE who are not in the majority in central government and whilst we have the support of some individuals within the PP, the chances of this amendment being passed are currently 50/50 at best,” said Maura Hillen of AUAN.
She added: “We are calling on all parties to support this change for the common good. The municipal elections are coming in which foreigners can vote. We may not get such an opportunity again.”
The call from SOHA and AUAN comes following the demolition of several illegal homes in Spain bought by foreign buyers who were unaware of any problems at the time of purchase. AUAN estimates there are around 300,000 illegal homes in Southern Spain alone.
“The normal practice is that the promoter is given a small fine for building an illegal house, whilst the person who spent their life savings on the house sees it demolished with a theoretical order of compensation that never actually happens,” said Gerardo Vazquez, lawyer on behalf of the associations.
“In reality, the victim receives the greatest punishment and this cannot be right. Certainly, the environment must be protected, but the end does not justify the means if you violate a person’s fundamental right to inviolability of the home, their human right to property and their constitutional right to decent housing.
“The protection of the environment must be applied in a proportionate way and reach its limit when it affects human rights. The solution is simple, first compensate and then demolish,” Vazquez pointed out.
The proposed amendment has also received the backing of associations across Spain, including the Andalucian Confederation for Planning Legalisation (CALU).
“AUAN, SOHA and the other associations have spent many years trying to resolve these problems and this is a golden opportunity to take an important step forward,” added Vazquez.