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MARBELLA LOOKS FOR SOLUTIONS TO LEGALISE PROPERTIES
Rosalie Diepenbrock / 2010-06-23 14:18:20
Many retired Europeans, most of them Britons, have purchased homes on the Costa del Sol looking for a quiet life on the coast upon retirement.
Amongst other destinations, Marbella became a hotspot in the nineties and a lot of North-Europeans bought properties on the Costas in good faith, not realising that their houses were illegal and could be levelled to the ground at any time. Luckily, there is now a way out for those affected residents. The Junta de Andalusia and Marbella's town council have now initiated negotiations with real estate developers to agree on turning the houses into legal properties.
The corruption scandal of 2006, which saw several local politicians and civil servants end up in jail, made it impossible for property owners in Marbella to sell their houses, because they were built in public parkland or green areas. This appeared to be against the Ley de Costas (1988) which delimits, by restricting private ownership, the public domain area along the coast in order to prevent excessive urbanisation.
At that time, the property boom allowed this to happen and corrupt alliances between mayors, councillors and builders were part of the daily routine on the whole Costa del Sol and Costa de Almería. In Marbella there are around 18,000 illegal buildings: ranging from houses to hotels, most constructed a decade ago under the famous Marbellian chief of urban planning Juan Antonio Roca. He was arrested four years ago due to allegedly making corrupt deals with the town council in order to change the local urban planning law (PGOU). Last week, a term of 30 years prison was requested by the public prosecutors against Roca, as well as the payment of a fine of not less than 810 million Euros.
The Junta de Andalusia got many complaints about the lack of transparency and reliability in governmental policies and has now said that it will decide later this year on the issue of illegal constructions. Property owners are hoping for a positive outcome. The demolition of houses will cost a lot of money, while maintaining the properties will boost the economy of the Costas. The national government, at first, became very cautious and did not try to prevent the demolishing of the affected homes. The principal reason was that this type of construction will lead to more over-development and therefore will damage the coastal environment. At this time, the price of the properties remains low which combined with the positive situation of the British pound, once again creates a very attractive market for prospective investors which increases house purchases and can stimulate the economy.
In Marbella, the PGOU got final approval this April from the city council and it now seems likely that the Junta de Andalusia will support them. The Council of Marbella is already negotiating with the real estate developers and is seeking compensation by claiming payment in land, which the city will then use to construct green areas or sport centres. For the owners of illegally situated houses, it is much harder to gain any compensation. Most of the developers who sold the illegal houses are bankrupt or unable to pay any damages to the owners.
But there are a few neighbourhoods in Marbella that will remain under the status of being illegal. 400 flats in Marbella are at risk and could be taken down at any time as they are located in restricted green areas. Other houses, like in the Las Chapas neighbourhood will be legalised. The owners will be given licenses so they can prove their existence to mortgage lenders and other institutions. However, no other compensation will be offered by the state or the developers, although there was a lack of information when buying their houses. Malaga, Mijas, Benalmádena and Estepona are also trying to legalise properties by demanding changes in the delimitation of public and private areas within their territories.
It will take a long time to restore the reputation of Marbella. Mayoress Angeles Muñoz is currently trying to legalise 16,500 properties as the debate continues with the socialist party of the Junta. Furthermore, living in a legal house carries some extra expenses such as taxes and additional fees, which must be paid to the city council. This can therefore turn living on the Costa del Sol into an expensive Spanish dream.
Tags: Marbella, Property, Legal, Propertyportal