The demolition of a British couple’s home in the Valencia region a few months back set off a wave of rumours in Andalucia, especially in the campo areas. But the laws on property in this region are different, as Coín Mayor Gabriel Clavijo explained to the Town Crier in a recent interview, although he said a problem does exist, because many property owners – both Spanish and foreign – built their homes without bothering to obtain all the necessary permits. Sr Clavijo pointed out that everyone has to share the blame for the current situation: “First, the person selling the property knows if it’s legal or not and the person buying it has to be aware of any irregularities. Then the local councils have been guilty of being too permissive in the past, and the regional governments have created an atmosphere of insecurity by changing the rules and regulations too often, which has only added to the confusion.” What the mayor didn’t say is that real estate agents also contributed their grain of sand, by advising prospective buyers not to worry about this or that bit of paper because that problem can be sorted out “later on”. Well, that “later on” has finally arrived. The Junta de Andalucia has advised all town councils in the region to get people to sort out their papers because in the not-too-distant future – probably next year – the region’s Territorial Plan will have to be enforced. Those people who do not have their papers in order face huge fines – around 36,000 euros for a property measuring 80-100 m2 – and, in some cases, demolition. However, Sr Clavijo is one of several mayors who have asked the Junta to have another look at its Territorial Plan because it does not take into account the characteristics of the different areas in the region. “For example, the Guadalhorce valley is not the same as the Axarquia or Jaen.” He pointed out that in Antequera a small number of people own huge fincas, while in the Guadalhorce Valley, a much larger number of people own smaller fincas averaging 3,000 m2 so here it’s almost impossible to apply the law which only allows building on plots measuring at least 10,000.” As a result, Sr Clavijo wants the law to be modified to take into account the territorial idiosyncrasies of his municipality and others like it. “This would allow us to legalise all the little houses (casitas del campo) with their market gardens (huertas) that abound in this area,” the mayor said. He said he and other mayors in the Guadalhorce Valley have already presented written objections to the Junta’s Plan but that that it will take time to get any results. Meanwhile, he advised property owners to get their papers in order for their own good. “For example, when the owner of an illegal house dies, his or her heirs will have a problem. If an owner needs to apply for a loan against his or her property for whatever reason, the bank won’t give it if the papers aren’t in order.” Sr Clavijo said the Ayuntamiento had no intention of “persecuting people”. “We’re looking at each case individually,” he said. “We have no intention of implementing a mass operation just to be able to collect more taxes, that would be unfair.” By “regularising” their property documents now, he said owners could look forward to a problem-free future, at least as far as their homes are concerned – not to mention the savings made on capital gains taxes, of up to 14,000 or more when the property is legal. The easiest cases to solve will be those people who built without permits more than fours years ago, although it could cost them around 3,000 euros to get all the necessary papers together, which include the architect’s plan, the Nota Simple, registering property with the rotary, the property registry and the catastro. The “empadronimiento” – which so many foreigners seem to fear and which has a negative economic impact on all the municipalities in Andalucia – will be the subject of Part Two of the interview next week.


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