Saturday, 28 November 2009

Dirty Tricks in the Spanish Property Scandal

More and more people are publishing stories trying to make capital out of the unfortunate victims of the Spanish property scandal. They all seem to have first class honours degrees in hindsight. These people are playing into the hands of the unscrupulous villains who are the perpetrators of these crimes. Indeed, there is evidence that these lies are being peddled by those in the property business who are being hit hardest in the successful campaign for justice.
Many of the victims hail from the UK. The UK has wholeheartedly embraced the EU, complying with every edict emanating from Brussels, however small. So UK ex-pats could be forgiven for thinking that each member country of Europe has to present similar standards. Why would anyone from the UK have thought that in Spain property agents are corrupt (or naive), the lawyers corrupt and inept, the Notaries ineffective, the town halls and officials corrupt, the builders/developers corrupt, the list goes on. How could anyone have thought that the laws of Spain would be ignored to such an extent by the Spanish people themselves? Spain is a member of the EU, why has this situation been allowed to go on for so long? If a solicitor has been employed to purchase a property, how could anyone have known how inept they would be?
What is disturbing is that even professional “experts” in land law and related issues themselves are at a loss to advise on the complexities that arise here and are so easy to exploit, but so difficult to defend against. Practical advice is of little use in a system that defies any known standard of logic apart from that based on avarice.
Then there are the Catastral and the Land Register. Another minefield for anyone buying property in Spain. It is said that the Land Register is 4 years behind the Catastral. Unbelievable.
I love Spain, the people, the place, the lifestyle. But all of that is tainted by the lack of willingness of the authorities to recognise the problems that the property scandal has caused. Caused mostly by Spanish people, with the authorities complicit in the crimes. They say that in many towns and villages there is no crime because it brings shame to the families, well this property scandal has brought shame to the whole of Spain.
Understandably there are many people who have come to hate Spain, who feel trapped in a home they cannot sell, having used up their life-savings. The problems could be solved at a stroke if the authorities had the will.
Too many people are totally unaware of the heartache which this problem has caused. It is so easy to sit pretty and believe that “they brought it on themselves”. 11,000 illegal properties in the Almanzora Valley, 10,000 in Axarquia, 50,000 in Malaga/Marbella. There is a conservative estimate of 250,000 illegal properties throughout Spain. At just two people per property, that is half a million people. They brought it on themselves????? How crass is that statement?
The Spanish authorities just quote “the law is the law”, when it suits them to do so. But where was “the law is the law” when so many of Spain’s laws were being broken. The Ministry of Justice has failed in its duty of upholding the law. The Spanish Ombudsman has his own agenda, which does not include helping a bunch of foreigners. The British Consulate turns a deaf ear, why, getting involved could mean doing something useful. Indeed, many victims themselves are having to spend tens of thousands of Euros bringing the criminals to justice, the Spanish Criminal Justice system is just overloaded, again, an indication of the scale of the problem.
In Andalucia the ex-President, Manuel Chaves, presided over this corruption on a massive scale. This all happened on his watch. His reward, he gets promoted to a government post! At the very least he should have been served a denuncia and made to explain why he allowed this to happen. He was probably riding high on the profits of the construction boom, but it is inconceivable that he did not know that it was based on criminal activity.
In my own case, I asked questions about the agent and received good reports, the agent assured me that he had seen the building licences (and still believes that), the solicitor we used (one of two recommended by the agent) assured us, in writing, that all was legal and above board, the builder/developer assured us that all was legal. The contract was drawn up by the solicitor according to Spanish law. But still I have an illegal house! There are those who went to even greater lengths than me, and they too have illegal houses. There are those who have all the correct legal paperwork, only to be told that the Junta has rescinded the building licences. What a sorry state of affairs. At no time did any of us have access to hindsight. And we paid URBAN prices for RUSTIC land, so, no, we did not buy cheaply.
Of course there are those who bought illegal properties knowingly, and I hope they get all that they deserve, because the vast majority certainly did not know. They were systematically cheated by a level of deceit and corruption on an unbelievable scale. When questions were asked of the methods used by solicitors, the reply was always the same: this is how it is done in Spain. How were we to know any different?
As for the suggestion that British ex-pats are taking advantage of the Spanish medical system. How ridiculous. The stupidity of that remark beggars belief.
The Spanish economy has benefited enormously from the British ex-pats particularly, in addition to the sums paid for property; we estimate that each household contributes on average 1,000 Euros per month to the local economy. The maths are staggering, 250,000 households at 1,000 Euros per month = 250 million Euros per month, or 3 billion Euros per year. Most of these people, pensioners, survive on pensions, and do not cost Spain anything. The British ex-pats are an extremely valuable part of the Spanish economy.
What do we get? Many thousands of people have no mains electricity or mains water. Spain a member of the European Union … completely ignoring human rights.
The lies being peddled, and the stories being told, are just one part of the dirty tricks campaign by the builders/developers and associated criminals, which also includes death threats and other tricks. It won’t work. They have defrauded and cheated just too many people. There are literally thousands of court cases waiting to be heard, and if the courts don’t find them guilty, then there is always the taxman. One way or another, justice will be done.
There will always be a gullible element of the public who will believe any lies that they are told, but they have to ask themselves who is peddling the lies in the first place, and why?

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