'Nightmare' as elderly British expats in Spain stung with with crippling housing fees


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The group of up to 200 homeowners live in Gea y Truyols, a district in the Spanish region of Murcia. The expats claim they are facing demands from Murcia Town Hall to come up with money to complete the urbanisation where they live. It comes after the development was abandoned by the builder part way through construction. Consequently, roads have been left unfinished and proper water and electricity mains were never installed.

Linda House, 73, from Essex is one of the expats affected in the predominantly British enclave, where residents still do not have access to fresh drinking water or electricity.

The retired former company PA explained that she and her neighbours cannot afford to pay new fees on top of what they originally paid for their homes.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “The problem for us in the future is if the Town Hall pushes the plan forward, which is what they want to do.

“They want to go with a proper plan and have proper roads and the rest of it.

“They have said that we will have to pay – the individual house owners – to have all that infrastructure put in.

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Expat ‘nightmare’ as elderly Brits cannot pay unexpected housing fees: ‘We’re pensioners!’

Expat ‘nightmare’ as elderly Brits cannot pay unexpected housing fees: ‘We’re pensioners!’ (Image: Tony Malpass / RTVE)

Linda House: Has petitioned the Town Hall

Linda House: Has petitioned the Town Hall (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

“We can’t pay. We paid for an illegal house. We can’t pay again. We’re all pensioners.”

The Town Hall says it is trying to fix the problem by adapting the urban plan to give the expats greater legal security.

Besides the lack of utilities in the area, the Britons are suffering from a mix of planning issues.

When many of the expats bought their homes 20 years ago in good faith, they say they were assured by Town Hall and lawyers that the properties were legally sound.

However, the developer did not have planning permission, meaning that the properties are technically illegal.

Expats: Some have owned homes for 20 years

Expats: Some have owned homes for 20 years (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

On top of this, the expats do not have individual deeds to their homes, and instead only own an undivided share of a field.

Andrés Guerrero, the councillor for urban planning in Murcia, claimed the situation had arisen due to poor management by the previous council.

He told Spanish broadcaster RTVE: “Things were not done well and now we will have to bear the cost of them.”

Linda, who moved into the area in 2003 with her late husband Vic, said the housing saga had made her cautious about investing in Spain.

She said: “You’re exposed here. I don’t think it is a safe country to invest your money.

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Tony Malpass: Bought home in area 15 years ago

Tony Malpass: Bought home in area 15 years ago (Image: Tony Malpass)

“It is a lovely country to live in. The Spanish people are lovely people to be around.

“I really like them. I like the way they live. I like their attitudes.

“The bureaucracy is the biggest nightmare and scandal really. It really is.”

The expats have been petitioning the Town Hall to help resolve their situation for 20 years but have seen almost no progress so far.

Another homeowner who has been affected is Tony Malpass, 60, a security analyst from the Midlands, who bought his home in the area with his wife Anne 15 years ago.

Home: Tony's Murcia property without water

Home: Tony’s Murcia property without water (Image: Tony Malpass)

The homeowner said his wife felt a sense of “dread” at the thought of staying at the property.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “My wife loves going over there. But every time we plan to go, she has 50 percent excitement, 50 percent dread.

“Because something will go wrong like the water will get cut off or something else will happen.”

It is not uncommon in Spain for developments to be left half-finished, especially those constructed in the early 2000s.

Many partly constructed developments – sometimes dubbed “ghost towns” – litter the Spanish countryside.

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Spain: How hot is it? (Image: EXPRESS)

Local Spanish lawyer Gerardo Vasquez, who has been speaking to the expats in Murcia explained the fallout from the Spanish property bubble.

He told Express.co.uk: “The problem is, after the boom there was a big crash, obviously.

“And a lot of these developers went down the tubes and therefore, a lot of these urbanisations were not completed.

“They were left in some sort of limbo. It seems to be the case in this urbanisation.”

Murcia Town Hall has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

A Foreign Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We are in contact with the local authorities and British residents in the area.”



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