WHEN British national Janet Hayden first clapped her eyes on an idyllic plot of land for sale in La Viñuela in 2003, she could hardly have known that her ideal home was to become a house of horrors.
While Janet had been told the land could not legally be built on, she claims she was assured that works could go ahead simply by paying a small fine.
Organising the sale, bank loans, architects and builders through a solicitor, Janet says she soon had concerns after building costs quickly spiralled to almost double the original estimate. While she accepts she asked for some extras, Janet says she was surprised to learn the bill had reached €536,000 from an original quote of €270,000. Worse still, she claims the appropriate licences had still not been received. Taking out bank loans to cover costs, Janet already owed significant sums of money.
Soon after work on the imposing three storey house was complete, her dream was abruptly shattered after signs of damage began to appear. Large cracks formed in the walls and a hole opened up in the ground under one corner of the building. Hoping to have this fixed, Janet says she was astonished to find that the standard 10-year insurance for new building works had not been secured by her legal representative.
She then researched the land she had built on and found that it locals call it “the land that walks” because it is renowned for suddenly slipping, a fact she assures she was never told at any point by lawyers, banks, architect or builders.
Fourteen years on, Janet’s bank have taken possession of the house, which she says now needs significant sums of money spending on it, and is evicting her on April 4. Worn down, the now 70-year-old says she has lost her marriage and been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. While she admits she is nervous living in a house with structural issues, Janet explains she is desperate to stay in her home and cannot afford to move. She is now trying to negotiate with the bank in order to stay put.
Viñuela’s former mayor, Juan Millan Jabalera, was sentenced to 27 months in prison in 2011 for granting illegal licences to build in the area. This begs the question, what is the recourse for those like Janet who are left to deal with the consequences?