AROUND 20,000 homes built on non-urban land on the Costa del Sol could be affected by recent changes to the State Planning Law.
Last year, the government instructed town halls to take action on potentially illegal homes by putting together a general plan as well as an inventory of all buildings constructed on non-urban land.
Once completed, councils will use the two documents to determine whether each property is either legal; “asimilado como fuera de ordenacion”, meaning the property is recognised but subject to further restrictions; or subject to a demolition order.
Local activist group Save Our Homes in Axarquia (SOHA) claims around 20,000 homes in the Axarquia area alone could be illegal without their owners knowing. They say only 200 property owners have contacted them so far and are calling on others to come forward so they can organise a platform, putting pressure on the council to declare all homes built with town hall licences legal.
Philip Smalley, a spokesman for the organisation says, “owners of homes on non-urbanisable land (sic) believe that because they have all their paperwork, and no action has been taken against them to date, that they are legal.”
He says all property owners will soon receive a letter from the town hall stating what category their home comes under. Smalley is urging any owners concerned about the legal status of their property to contact the association at soha.es to receive advice and add their voice to the campaign.
The saga follows the sad story of Janet Hayden, a 70-year-old British woman living in La Viñuela. Janet had bought a plot of land in the area in 2003 and says she was advised by her legal representative that although the land was not designated for housing, she could secure the appropriate licence by paying a small fine. Janet says she never received a licence, however, and after problems with the property’s structure and ensuing bank debts, was ordered to be evicted from her home.