An important and possibly ground-breaking meeting was held in Sevilla in early December with the Junta de Andalucia regarding the problems of property law in the general area.
Mario Blancke, the Belgian mayor of Alcaucín, representing Save Our Homes in Axarquia (SOHA) association, supported the case for changes in the LOUA (planning law). It is hoped that these changes will be made, and will help to solve some of the problems currently suffered by owners of properties on ‘parcelled’ land.
He spoke of the anxiety and expense suffered by owners who had bought their homes in good faith, when their licences have been revoked, an act which is the first step on the path to demolition, under present law. Many people have fallen ill and some have died during these stressful times of fighting legal battles. This is deeply unjust, when a solution exists.
He explained that most of these victims are foreigners who bought their homes during the housing boom since 2000. However, a very small and vulnerable group of Spanish ‘cortijada’ owners are also at risk. These are smallholders who built their houses in the traditional way, with their own hands, in their own time, usually on their parents’ land. In the years of hardship, they often did not meet the six-year rule for completing the statute of limitation.
He argued that it would be unfair and unjust to victimise these innocents as well since there is no benefit to any party, and legislators had to change these laws to adapt to social reality.
In conclusion, the mayor summed up SOHA’s position with these words:
“We, the victims, are not interested in who was wrong. We want to know what went wrong.
“Many citizens are counting on you to make and support solutions to re-establish justice. A community which has 300,000 irregular houses is not a well-run community. Once more we ask you to listen to the people, and share their concerns. We only ask one thing; don’t let us down.”
The changes will benefit local councils. At present, they are obliged by law to demolish properties, and after the previous good work of SOHA and other associations in amending the national law, to pay compensation to owners who bought in good faith, before the demolition.
Also present at the meeting were SOHA president Phil Smalley (pictured right on inset with Mario Blancke, left) and interpreter Fernando Montero.