British expats in Spain fuming over illegal homes battle: ‘Can’t get any answers’
Spanish Expat sums up why Britain Is behind the Queen today
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Some 200 expats in Spain – many of whom are British – are engaged in a major battle to protect their homes in Murcia’s Gea y Truyols area. The group bought their properties in good faith, believing that they had been built in accordance with Spanish law. However, unbeknown to the expats, the developer had not applied for planning permission, meaning the homes are illegal.
This has left the homeowners, who are mostly pensioners, without access to proper electricity or a supply of drinkable tap water.
This is because in Spain, basic utilities access is only granted to houses that have a ‘First Occupational License’ – a document that confirms a property has been built with planning permission.
The expats are now trying to regularise their situation and have set up a pressure group called AUN Murcia in a bid to get Murcia Town Hall to help them get some form of legal protection for their homes.
The expats claim their local authority knew houses in their area were being built illegally and have so far been slow to act in helping resolve the issues they are facing, including in responding to a letter they sent to the Town Hall.
One of the expats involved is AUN Murcia spokesperson Linda House, who bought a home in the area with her late husband Vic and moved in in 2003.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, the 72-year-old retiree from Essex claimed the Town Hall has not been very helpful so far.
She said: “We’re just stuck here now in this sort of twilight zone. We can’t get any answers from the Town Hall.
“They won’t speak to us. They won’t speak to our lawyer. They just seem to ignore us.
“They haven’t even responded to it [the letter], not even acknowledged it.”
Despite the expats’ slow progress at the Town Hall, Linda praised the British Consulate’s office in Alicante for assisting them.
Linda is one of a string of Britons in the area who does not have access to a proper water supply.
The pensioners have had to rely on water for local farmers that was only supposed to irrigate the lemon groves and orange groves that were in the area.
She said: “That is still the case today. We have agricultural water. We can’t drink our water. We can’t cook in it.
“We shouldn’t really be washing in it. Sometimes it’s smelly and discoloured.
“It quite often gets disconnected because they’re not proper pipe works. They’re all just below the ground because they’re meant just to water trees.”
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Another expat, Keith Willis, also does not have a proper water supply at the home he shares with his partner Pat.
The 71-year-old retired Heathrow Airport worker from Windsor has lived in Spain for 21 years.
Asked what his priority was, he told Express.co.uk: “Getting fresh water that we can actually drink or cook with because the water now being agricultural water, you can’t do much with it at all really.
“It comes out of the taps brown most of the time. So, fresh water will be the main thing.”
Murcia Town Hall did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We closely engage with the Spanish government and regional governments on matters relating to UK nationals’ rights.
“We encourage any UK national in need of consular assistance to get in touch with their nearest embassy / consulate or call the 24/7 phone line for support.”
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