Expats to fight for Spanish home in European Court

Published:  15 Jan at 6 PM
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British retirees who face losing their Spanish retirement home to the bulldozers after a final Spanish High Court ruling are to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, built their home in Albox, Andalusia in 2001, having obtained the necessary planning licenses from the town hall. In 2009, their home and 11 others were deemed illegal by a regional court as they were on non-urban land, and the owners were issued with demolition notices.

Since 2009, the couple has been fighting for their home through the Spanish courts, but last November their final appeal was rejected by Andalusia’s highest court. Subsequently, the expat-run anti-demolition campaign groups SOHA and AUAN have pledged their support and the couple are preparing a case to be presented to the Strasbourg Human Rights Court.

The two expat organisations represent over a thousand expats in the same situation, with homes scattered all over Almanzora Valley and in Malaga province. AUAN president Maura Hillen told the Daily Telegraph that the couple are stressed out and tired, with the husband’s health suffering due to the ongoing situation.

She added that the case was expected to rest on the guaranteed right to property enshrined in the EU’s Human Rights Convention, adding that the ruling seems to have little power in Spanish courts. The couple’s predicament will be used as a test case for the many other cases approaching the final appeals stage or in the lower courts.

There are an estimated 300,000 homes across Andalusia at risk of being declared illegal and demolished due to fraud and corruption by property agents and local officials. A number of expats who have already lost their homes are suing for compensation.
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