Junta to regulate illegal properties in Andalucia

The president of the Junta de Aldalucia, Jose Antonio Grinan, has announced plans to regulate thousands of properties in the region that were built illegally over recent years.

Although no promises were made Grinan, speaking in Torrox at the weekend, said the decree to legalise some of the properties that were built on land not licensed for development would “probably” be passed on January 10th.

“We are talking about legalising thousands and thousands of homes”, Grinan said adding “We must, therefore, be sure that this legalisation does not go against the public interest and is not harmful to the environment or the security of the people. Once this is confirmed, the decree will be approved.”

The number of illegal properties in Andalucia probably runs into the hundred thousands with an estimated 8,000 illegal properties in Mijas alone and a further 11,000 in the Axarquia area.

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Illegal homes require sewer connection

Mijas town hall is asking the owners of illegal homes to install sewers to help ensure the town is treating its waste correctly.

The news came last week from councillor Mario Bravo following a meeting of the Foro de Seaneamiento Integral de la Costa del Sol, a provincial action group for sewage compliance. The meeting was held at the Mijas town hall.

Mario explained that many of the illegal homes in the town are expected to be legalised under the new regularisation plan and that approximately 3,000 homes, and a significant number of urbanisations, require a sewage connection and this could be key in obtaining legal status.

Illegal homes still at risk

Although new laws have been passed to “protect” buyers who bought in good faith campaigners say the latest changes are “another nail in the coffin” for the continuing property crisis in Spain.

The latest amendments have been made in what looks like a desperate attempt to breathe life into the Spanish real-estate market by relaxing the requirement for urban developments. However, the changes do not help those with illegal property in rural areas.

Almeria based pressure group AUAN say that those buying in good faith will still be held responsible and could still face losing their homes.

Maura Hillen, president of AUAN said “If you buy an illegal house in good faith, you still inherit the problem, according to section 35,”. This represents hundreds of home-owners who, through no fault of their own, have ended up with an illegal property. Worryingly, this could even apply to people who’s homes were wrongly entered into the property register.

Hillen went on to say “Given that the property register currently gives a clean bill of health to Helen and Len Priors house (the home famously demolished in 2008), you can understand the risks that you face.

“These latest changes are neither sensible nor practical. Sadly this regional government never listens and this bill is just another nail in the coffin.”

AUAN estimates the number of illegal homes in Andalucia at around 300,000, affecting just under 1 million people, and with a total value of  around 60 billion euros.

Visit AUAN website

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.

Deal Reached to Legalise Property in Mijas

The Junta and the Ayuntamiento have reached a deal that could see properties legalised within eight months.

The agreement represents a huge step forward in a conflict that has lasted for years. Approximately 8,000 properties were built irregularly or illegally in the Mijas area alone.

The deal was announced on Friday by Manuel Navarro, the local councillor for town planning. He explained the deal to the spokespeople from the three main opposition groups.

An inventory of all irregular properties will now be carried out. This time it will be done far more comprehensively than that which was done by the previous governing team in the town.

The agreement means that the PGOU can be modified in part to legalise illegal or irregular properties. Navarro claims that this proposal will be confirmed after meeting the Delegate for Territorial Ordination in Málaga, Enrique Benítez.

The town planning councillor said that Mijas is leading the way in regularising homes. ‘It may take longer, possibly, but we guarantee to solve this urgent social problem which is one of the main concerns in our municipality’, said Navarro. The process could take between eight and ten months.