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Why you need good legal advice when buying property in Spain

At one o'clock today, 18th November 2014, representatives of the regional government demolished the home of Frank and Janet Dole, in Las Terreras, a tiny hamlet in Cantoria in the Valley of Almanzora.

Frank and Janet had purchased the property, one of four on a small development, in early 2005 from their promoter, Francisco Pedrosa Moreno, only to discover in late 2006 that the property was in fact illegal and that the promoter had been charged with a planning crime. Services to the property were later disconnected forcing them to return to the UK to live.

In 2012, after a protracted legal case, the promoter was convicted of a planning crime and ordered to demolish what he had built. The court set a figure of 790,000 Euros as the amount of compensation due to the home owners involved in the case.

However, the criminal code in Spain does not require the court to guarantee that such compensation is paid prior to demolition. The promoter has failed to pay and now the houses have been demolished leaving Frank and Janet with no house, no compensation and not much hope.

The bulldozer may have started its work today on the house of Mr and Mrs Dole but it will soon move on to the house of Peter and Margaret Hegarty, their former next door neighbours, who also purchased their dream home in the sun on this ill fated development.

Speaking about today's events in Las Terreras, AUANs president, Maura Hillen said 'Buying a property in Spain is a state run lottery. There are many and varied regulations but no control. And, as a purchaser you are the one who gets punished if something goes wrong. This isn't an isolated case. Many our members homes are embroiled in similar proceedings. We need the Spanish government to change the criminal code to protect purchasers in good faith and to guarantee compensation prior to demolition.'

'As it stands today these unfortunate people have been left with no home, no compensation and nobody in authority in Spain seems to give a damn. This is fundamentally unjust.'

Gerardo Vazquez, AUAN's lawyer, who also witnessed the demolition said ' This is a sad day for everybody in the Almanzora Valley, for the owners of these houses whose dreams of a Spanish paradise have been demolished. With every brick that fell today jobs were lost in the Almanzora Valley and future investors were lost as well. Its a pity that sense cannot prevail and we hope that the people responsible for these events will realise that they need to do something about it and rapidly.'

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