Brit expats whose home was demolished finally awarded Spanish compensation

Published:  27 Apr at 9 AM
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Tagged: Spain
The British expat couple who watched their dream home in Spain torn down due to trumped-up planning irregularities have finally received justice, but it’s a double-edged sword.

Len and Helen Prior’s appalling experience hit the headlines in 2008 after the bulldozers had demolished their dream villa in rural Spain’s Almeria coastal region. They’d ensured the correct planning permission for the construction had been obtained from the local town hall, but the license had been revoked by the Andalusian regional government and the demolition went ahead.

The shocked couple were allowed a few hours to clear the villa of their personal possessions and were then forced to watch their future being trashed as their home was reduced to rubble. The build had cost £400,000 and they were left with only the garage to live in along with their rescued dog family.

Working through their grief and anger, the 72-year old couple determined to stay in the garage and fight for compensation. Legal moves were hampered by Spain’s complicated legal system, whilst blame for the demolition was passed back and forth between the regional planning authority and the local town hall. Eventually, the country’s constitutional court ruled the Priors’ home was illegally destroyed, but compensation due from the local council was still not forthcoming.

Last year, Spanish legislators finally brought in a new law which protected expat homes bought in good faith from being demolished before a compensation amount was agreed. During the eight years it took Spain’s legal system to come to the right conclusion, the Priors kept up their protests and helped other expats in the same situation.

However, the couple haven’t yet received the compensation award of €425,185 plus interest and, even when they do, court costs of the eight-year battle will mean there’s hardly anything left. Worse still, it’s possible the local town council may appeal the court’s compensation decision, locking the Priors into yet another battle for their rights.

The expat protest group AUAN, founded to represent hundreds more homeowners who’d lost their properties, is calling for the Spanish government to do the right thing by the couple. According to AUAN’s president Maura Hillen, enough is enough and right now is the time to give them the compensation they’ve won.
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