A group of up to 200 mostly British pensioners living in the Spanish region of Murcia have sounded the alarm over their illegal homes in recent weeks. Their properties were built without planning permission, meaning they are not considered legal under Spanish law. However, the Britons bought their dream homes in the sun on the understanding that they would one day become legal.
Some of the group claim they received assurances from their builder, lawyers and officials at Murcia Town Hall that the land their properties were built on would be recognised as “urban” land, meaning it can be built on.
However, two decades later, the Britons’ homes are still not legally sound, and they continue to suffer from a mixture of broken promises and planning failures.
The predicament has left many elderly Britons living across the Gea y Truyols area without access to drinking water and electricity.
Only properties built with planning permission and therefore considered “regular” are able to access basic utilities in Spain.
The expats have been engaged in a protracted two-decade battle with Murcia Town Hall to assist them with their situation and have even set up their own home legalisation association, AUN Murcia.
Last month the expats had what should have been a key meeting with Town Hall officials about getting their homes legalised.
However, their discussion ended in disappointment, one member of the group has revealed to Express.co.uk.
Linda House, 72, from Essex, whose home was built illegally, attended the meeting with AUN Murcia’s lawyer Pedro Rivera, but said she was left “irritated” by the authority’s “lack of research”.
She said: “We arrived at the Town Hall at the designated time and were shown into a very nice meeting room.
“The councillor was only 15 minutes late but, one of the first things he said was that he wasn’t completely up to date with our situation as he had only held his office for eight months.
They were informed at the time they would be given a proper Escritura showing their house and the exact piece of land they owned once their properties were built.
However, despite the Town Hall promising expats that the segregation of the plots is “imminent”, this still hasn’t happened.
British pensioner Keith Willis, who does not have access to drinking water at his home in the area, said segregating the individual plots of land was a priority.
The 71-year-old from Windsor said: “Ideally, the first thing is segregation.
“That’s the most important thing. Because then we can all say, ‘Yeah, we have a house. Here’s the deeds for the house. We’re actually homeowners’.”
He added: “If we were segregated then we’re partway to that legalisation process because we would have our houses acknowledged on a piece of paper.
“At the moment all we’ve got is a piece of paper saying we own a plot of land with no house on it.”
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.”