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'Spanish law is unclear, beware the bulldozers' - local Euro MP warns holiday property buyers

March 26, 2010 3:35 PM
Spanish land grab

LibDem MEPs are warning potential buyers of recently-built Spanish holiday properties to beware.

Local Euro MP Liz Lynne has warned residents thinking of buying a coastal property in Spain to beware a risk of it being bulldozed due to an unresolved conflict in Spanish law.

Liz Lynne and her Lib Dem colleagues in the European Parliament are continuing to demand action from the Spanish Government to end the practice of 'land grabbing,' where many foreign nationals in southern Spain have been powerless to stop their homes being seized and bulldozed due to the retrospective enforcement of the Spanish Coastal Law by regional government.

Liz Lynne spoke out again after the problem was considered at a meeting of the Petitions Committee in the European Parliament in Brussels this week.

She said: "This appalling situation has been going on for years but it is still not resolved, and there are serious doubts about the compensation scheme currently being proposed by the Spanish government. People are getting increasingly desperate.

"I have a number of constituents from my region who are in this situation but many Spaniards, have also seen houses and villas bought outright years ago with the full consent of the local council being demolished by order of regional government.

"Whether they bought their property as an investment, a holiday home or for retirement, people are faced with the prospect that their property could be lost or their ownership limited to 30 years.

"Although the Coastal Law was passed in 1988 it is now being implemented retrospectively and, it seems, quite arbitrarily. A petitioner yesterday said the law is being used to affect properties built in the 1960s alongside man-made sea water canals, which can be miles from the sea.

"The situation is totally unacceptable. We are campaigning to ensure the Spanish Government sorts out the mess, with new legislation if necessary. Spain currently holds the Presidency of the EU and yesterday the Spanish Minister was confronted by LibDem Euro MPs at the Petitions Committee here in Brussels demanding action.

"It is not yet resolved, though at least the case remains open and the Commission has to go away and look at the new position post Lisbon Treaty."

"In the meantime though my advice to potential buyers of properties along the Spanish Costas would be that Spanish law remains unclear, so it is a case of 'buyer beware'."


1. The Spanish land grab issue has arisen in instances where citizens have purchased properties in southern Spain in accordance with local law, after which regional authorities have informed them that any new property must be designed for specific purposes e.g. agricultural use. Home owners are then required to bulldoze their own properties, otherwise the regional government will do so and charge them for the cost

2. The European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the impact of extensive urbanisation in Spain on individual rights of European citizens, on the environment and on the application of EU law, based upon petitions received (2008/2248(INI))- the Auken Report: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P6-TA-2009-0192