New rules attract the Scandinavians

THE new decree approved by the Junta de Andalucía intended to ‘regularize’ an estimated 300,000 illegal buildings in Andalucia came into force on March 1.

This has attracted the attention of potential clients from Scandinavian countries looking to buy property in the Axarquia area, especially around La Viñuela reservoir, according to a report in local Spanish daily La Opinion de Malaga.

Homeowners who already live in the region, however, are not so happy, and according to the report, a US businessman based in Alcaucin, said that “people are unsure of how long it will take to legalise their home and put it on the market.

After all they have suffered, many families are now longing to return to their countries of origin or invest elsewhere.”

Velez-Malaga estate agent Ignacio Herrera told La Opinion de Malaga “the solution is not a decree or the changes to the Andalucian Urban Development Law, what we need is for the law and the Andalucian Territorial Planning Project which rules the development of the Axarquia area to be changing.”

This view is supported by associations which represent the interest of owners of illegal houses, such as ‘Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No’ (AUAN) in Almeria, or ‘Save Our Homes Axarquia’ (SOHA).

An AUAN spokesperson reportedly said “In the short term we hope that our town councils take advantage of the ambiguities within the text of this decree to give services to as many people as possible, even if it is only for one year.

“In the long term, however, we believe that the decree is not the solution we had all hoped for.

It creates a second class tier of ‘assimilated’ housing labelled as illegal on the land registry until such time as they become part of a fully-approved and implemented urban plan, if that ever happens.

The housing market is bad enough without having to pay for the privilege of having a stigmatised house”.

Herrera told the local daily that while he supports environmental protection to the area, the plan should allow for development of residential tourism, instead of it remaining exclusively agricultural.

Failing to do this, another local estate agent said, will lead to people deserting towns in the region because there are no options open to them.

“It is also normal that those who bought their house in good faith feel cheated and are thinking of leaving”, he said.

AUAN believe that “there is a better deal to be had” for owners of illegal properties.

“There is a regional election on March 25. A change of government, a distinct possibility according to latest polls, could present the chance of a fairer deal for homeowners who purchased in good faith. Why rush?” said the spokesman.

Foreign residents are not allowed to vote in the regional elections.

Meanwhile, despite property prices falling since 2008, Spain’s Institute of Businesses has revealed a price gap exists of €47,000 on average between offer and demand for homes in Spain.

By Jennifer Leighfield

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