Boris Johnson 'needs to step up for British expats' says expert
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A group of around 200 expats, many of them British, have been left in a nightmare situation with their Spanish dream homes. The residents live in Spain’s Murcia region in properties they bought in good faith, believing the homes to have planning permission. However, as many of the homeowners later realised, permission was never granted, meaning that in the eyes of the law the houses were built illegally.
Many of the properties, which are spread across the Gea y Truyols area, do not have access to fresh tap water or a proper supply of electricity, because utilities access in Spain is only granted to homes that have been built with planning permission.
The expats affected have set up an association called AUN Murcia to take their fight to Murcia Town Hall in a bid to secure some form of legal recognition for their properties.
One of those involved is Keith Willis, 71, a retired Heathrow Airport worker from Windsor, who has lived in Spain for 21 years.
The home he shares with his Partner, Pat only has a supply of agricultural water that is not fit for drinking, while his electricity comes from expensive solar panels he paid for out of his own pocket.
Asked by Express.co.uk what has caused his predicament, he said: “It’s twofold. The one I know about is that our developer sounds as if he overstretched himself or ran out of money and disappeared, did a bunk.
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“So, he was selling plots of land with houses, or he arranged to build a house for people, and then suddenly stopped and disappeared. Nobody can find him.
“So, the paperwork that he started with the Town Hall about segregation, etc. has sort of been pushed to one side because there’s nobody there to push it through.”
Keith was one of a number of expats in the area who bought homes from the same developer.
However, the pieces of land each of the houses are built on are not officially segregated into individual plots.
Local Spanish lawyer, Gerardo Vasquez, who has assisted the group, explained the significance of this.
He told Express.co.uk: “A lot of them don’t seem to have title to their plots. They’ve just got an undivided share in a big plot of land.
“So, their particular plot hasn’t been legally segregated and registered at the Land Registry.”
The legal expert explained how amid the Spanish housing boom in the early part of this century, many developments were not finished.
Speaking about the properties, he said: “Some of them don’t have electricity and then there is some missing infrastructure.
“It seems to have been like that for a long time. The problem is, after the boom there was a big crash, obviously.
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“And a lot of these developers went down the tubes and therefore, a lot of these urbanisations were not completed.
“They were left in some sort of limbo. It seems to be the case in this urbanisation.”
The expats have been in contact with Murcia Town Hall, where they claim officials knew the homes were being built without planning permission.
Mr Vasquez said the Town Hall had to agree to complete the planning process before the expats could take the crucial step of getting their houses registered at the Land Registry.
He said: “The planning needs to be finished before that can be done.
“The relevant paperwork has to be pushed through and there has to be consent from the local authority.”
Murcia Town Hall did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We closely engage with the Spanish government and regional governments on matters relating to UK nationals’ rights.
“We encourage any UK national in need of consular assistance to get in touch with their nearest embassy/consulate or call the 24/7 phone line for support.”
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