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Plans unveiled to protect homeowners on Spanish coast

Steps to shore up the rights of homeowners on the Spanish coast have been backed by South East MEP Catherine Bearder.

The Spanish Government plans to protect EU citizens who invested in property, but faced ruin after it emerged homes had been built illegally.

Catherine said: "Thousands of EU citizens moved to Spain for a quiet retirement in the sun and spent their nest eggs in good faith.

"The Spanish Government is right to protect its coastline, but I also applaud the care it is now taking to improve legal certainty for citizens who own, or plan to own, property."

Hundreds of pensioners from the UK purchased villas and apartments in Spain, but faced being left out of pocket by the Coastal Law (Ley de Costas).

Many of the homes were built by developers in areas protected by the law, which is aimed at guarding stretches of coastline.

Regional governments stepped in and said they would bulldoze many homes because they breached planning rules.

However, a reform to the law is now being proposed after lobbying from the European Commission.

Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President, said: "The new Spanish law aims to improve legal certainty for European citizens and businesses.

"It can also improve their confidence when investing in a foreign legal environment. This is good news for citizens, but also the Spanish economy."

Catherine added: "The preliminary draft law is available online and I want to make sure everyone with an interest in the issue understands the changes and has a say."


1) The draft law would extend the period of the existing concession to enjoy possession of properties built in the protected zone (public domain) from 30 years to 75 years. It would also introduce the possibility to sell this interest in the property - subject to prior authorisation - and to renovate the buildings situated in this zone, as long as this would not imply a change in the volume, height or surface of the property.

In addition, the public administration will be obliged to register the definitive and provisional demarcation line in the property register, so that purchasers will be better informed about whether the property is situated in a protected area and the exact location and extension of this area. The demarcation lines will also be published on the website of the Spanish Ministry for Environment.

2) Spain is home to around 2.3 million citizens from other EU countries, or five per cent of the population. This includes around 367,000 British, 238,000 Germans, 225,000 French, 99,000 Italians, 52,000 Dutch and 17,000 Irish.

3) On July 13, the Spanish government adopted a preliminary draft law to amend the Coastal Law of 1988. An English summary of the proposal is now available on the website of the Spanish Ministry for Environment:

Citizens can comment on the draft by emailing to [email protected]

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