NO REFUGE FOR HOME OWNERS IN AMNESTY

A recent newspaper report that the main opposition party, the Partido Popular, has proposed legalising an estimated 55,000 illegally-built houses in Malaga province has raised owners’ hopes that all they have to do is wait and their problems will be solved. Nothing could be further than the truth. All the political parties have reached the conclusion that the only solution to a problem which is especially acute in Malaga province would be a sort of amnesty. But, according to sources at the Coin town council, this would not entail handing over completely legal papers to owners free of charge any time in the near future. The Junta de Andalucia has given town councils a “window of opportunity” to help owners regularise their property documents before the General Territorial Plan – known as POT in Spanish – finally comes into operation. This plan is the equivalent of a town’s general urban plan (POUG) but applied to the whole of Andalucia. The POT will put paid to all the “oversights”, irregularities and other glitches in urban and rural planning that have led to the present state of bureaucratic chaos. The source told the Town Crier that owners will still have to put their papers in order, that is, obtain escrituras which reflect the building that stands on their land – a rural dwelling as opposed to what many people mistakenly call a dog house – and its true value. This means getting an architect’s plan, notarising the escritura accordingly, and registering it at the town’s property register and the Land Register in Alora, at a cost of around €3,000 to €4,000 euros for average-sized houses. The process “regularises” the property, meaning that owners will no longer face huge fines – or demolition – for not having their papers in order. When the expected amnesty is declared, in about two or three years’ time, according to the source, owners who do not have their papers in order will be told to collect a building licence from their local council, which will cost around €4,500. They will then have to go through the “regularising” process. The source said town councils have no power to waive the fees charged by the architects, the notaries and the two registries. And anyway, the source said, even if the council could do it, it would be unfair to those people who have already paid the necessary fees to put their papers in order. At a meeting last week between local mayors and the Malaga provincial government, the Alhaurin el Grande mayor said he was already asking campo house owners requesting connection to the town’s water and drainage systems for a Certificate of Antiquity if they did not have their papers in order. The certificate costs €3,000 and only states the age of the house – the owner still has to go to the regularisation process. The source said that whichever way you look at it, owners of illegal houses will save a lot of money if they start getting their papers in order now.

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