Spains British expats in Catch-22 after cowboy builder left dream homes unfinished

Brexit: British expat discusses difficulty of living in Spain

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A group of some 200 retirees has called for action from the Spanish authorities after their longstanding property issues have remained unsolved. The group claim they moved into their houses in Murcia under false pretences and have subsequently been left without basic utilities. Expats in the hamlet of Gea y Truyols, some of whom have lived there for 20 years, do not have access to electricity and fresh drinking water.

Many of the expats, who have now launched a legal association – AUN Murcia – to fight their corner, blame their local authority.

The elderly Britons allege that Murcia Town Hall was aware that their properties had been built without planning permission on land not earmarked for development.

Under Spanish law, this means the houses are illegal and are not able to be hooked up to electricity and water mains.

One of the residents, Keith Willis, 71, told that as well as the Town Hall, he also blames the “cowboy” builder who constructed his and his neighbours’ homes.

The expat said: “He was a bit of a cowboy, like quite a few of the small developers in Spain.

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“We were sold the plot on the assurance that everything was legal, going through and above board, when in fact that wasn’t actually the case.”

The retired Heathrow Airport worker, who lives with his Partner, Pat, purchased his property in 2006.

However, 15 years later, the pensioner still does not have access to clean drinking water at his home.

Instead, the expat relies on an agricultural supply of “brown” water, which he must clean through a series of filters in order to remove the sediment.

Even after the water is filtered, Keith says he is still unable to use it for drinking or cooking and has to buy bottled water at the supermarket.

Like many of his fellow expats, Keith blames the developer and local Town Hall for his “Catch-22 situation”.

He said: “Because the urbanisation wasn’t finished by the developer, he went off and left it, we’re in a Catch-22 situation.”

Keith says he has installed expensive solar panels for his electricity as the necessary infrastructure for a supply to his home was never finished.

He says the Town Hall does not recognise his and his neighbours’ predicament, and that the electricity supplier is unable to connect to his property.

He said: “We can’t have electricity unless they supply it underground, and we haven’t got anything underground.

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“We’re just in the middle of a field. They won’t supply it above ground with telegraph poles and stuff.

“We’re not allowed to be connected because Murcia Town Hall says we’re on urbanisation.”

He added: “The water’s the worst thing, but then we just buy our water from the supermarkets in bottles and cook with that and use it for making coffee.

“We wash up and have showers in the agricultural water.”

Murcia Town Hall did not respond to requests for comment.

A Foreign Office spokesperson told “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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