Brit expats lose chance of compensation for missold Spanish homes

Published:  14 Dec at 6 PM
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An Almeria expat campaign group who’ve been fighting for compensation in a mis-selling scandal are furious over a court judgement that millions lost to British investors will not be reimbursed.

The plight of British expats who’ve lost their Spanish homes due to illegal dealings between construction firms and local authorities is well known, but the latest shock to defrauded Britons is hard to bear for those involved. Expats paid millions of pounds in total for 94 off-plan villas supposedly being constructed on legally protected land in Andalusia’s Los Cabreras resort, but no homes were ever built.

The local planning boss, one Carlos Berbel, got almost cleanly away with the scam by being suspended from holding public office for a period of three years. Total losses of nine million pounds hung in the balance whilst defrauded expats awaiting a court decision only to find no compensation would be paid. According to the judge, Berbel’s crime did not give entitlement to compensation for the British buyers, a judgement which head of the expat housing protest group Maura Hillen describes as scandalous.

She told local media the judgement dumps the blame on the victims, all of whom acted in good faith whilst being scammed by a crook. Buyers, she added, have no protection in Spain as the country is a land of no accountability. Hillen’s group, AUAN, was formed to support those who’d bought off-plan properties which were never built as well as to shine a spotlight on corrupt town hall employees who took advantage of retiree expats by allowing developers to build illegally on protected land with inadequate licenses or no licenses at all.

Andalusia is one of Spain’s popular expat destinations, with around 300,000 illegal properties still causing grief to their expat owners. During the 2000 to 2006 property boom, many thousands of properties were constructed and sold to unsuspecting overseas buyers mostly looking for retirement homes. Developers went ahead with licenses from their local authorities, but had no authority from the regional government, meaning many British expats lost their homes to demolition gangs. Some have now received compensation, but this latest scandal means British property investors are still at risk.
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