To legalise or not to legalise?

Although there is a decree in place from the Junta many owners of illegal property, known as ‘campitos’, are not feeling reassured and have their doubts as to how beneficial the law will be to them.

The decree affects all of Andalucia and aims to legalise many properties that were built illegally on rural land. A large number of properties will not be included in the decree and will remain illegal awaiting demolition.

José Martín is a lawyer representing some of the owners in Estepona and he said that many of his clients seem afraid to make use of an office that was set up in September to allow owners to declare their properties in order to create a census. Some people are said to be worried that after declaring their home they may find it is not be eligible for legalisation, and they have no further options.

Martín said “There are people who are too afraid to go to the registry, because if it is established that they have committed a planning offence the fines are astronomical and they have to demolish their homes”.

It seems very unfair that the owners of these properties, who bought in good faith, are now having to pay for their properties to be legalised or, in some cases, to be demolished. The government had said it would help the owners and charge the construction companies although there is very little evidence of that.

Regarding the fines that may be imposed Martín said “A neighbour in this situation who is also my client was notified that he would have to pay a fine of 120,000 euros and knock his house down, and we are trying to delay this as much as possible”.

On the flip side, some owners are concerned about the consequences of being declared legal. If the land where these rural ‘campitos’ are constructed is declared as ‘urban’, the housing tax rates will increase dramatically. “They would have to pay one year’s tax plus the bill for the three previous years; for some-one who has a hectare of land that means their rates would go from 40 to 14,000 euros”, explained Martín.