British expat couple forced to demolish their Malaga home

Published:  3 Aug at 6 PM
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A retired couple from Cornwall have been ordered by a Spanish court to demolish their Malaga home due to a technicality during its renovation.

In yet another heartbreaking result for an expat couple caught up in a building licence scandal, this sad tale involves a retired British couple who bought a derelict Spanish farmhouse and paid a local builder to renovate it. Gill and Bob Ward sold their Cornish home in 2004 and used the proceeds to purchase and renovate their new home in Almayate village.

Aware of existing problems with building permits, they got permission from the local authority at Velez-Malaga town hall to renovate the property. During the rebuilding, the exterior wall collapsed of its own accord, but the couple’s architect assured them it would be fine to simply rebuild it, adding he would inform the town hall about the incident. Unfortunately, he either forgot or couldn’t be bothered, with his carelessness now about to lose the Wards their home.

When the local authority found out about the error, Bob was charged with knowingly building without a license and given a date for his court appearance. Hastily contacting a local lawyer, he was told he should ‘plead guilty, pay a 1,000 euro fine and that will be the end of the matter’. The lawyer’s advice, of course, was wrong, and Bob ended up being given a two-year suspended sentence for an offence he didn’t knowingly commit.

He was also ordered to apply for new permission to carry out building work, which he immediately arranged and provided .to the court. Having heard nothing more about the matter, the couple were devastated when, two years later, they received a notice stating their home would be demolished on July 17. Two temporary court orders delayed the demolition, but both have now been rejected by the court.

Gill told reporters she’s at the end of her tether and is exhausted. The couple’s daughter-in-law Emma Baker is doing all she can to apply pressure to the court, but is not optimistic about the outcome. She told the Olive Press the house is tiny and her in-laws had invested everything in it, adding the entire situation is so unfair.
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