Government mulls amnesty for owners of illegally built homes

Policy document suggests that those who bought “in good faith” could see off threat of bulldozer

The Public Works Ministry is preparing the terms of an amnesty on illegally built houses as part of a policy document aimed at kick-starting the ailing construction sector.

Thousands of home owners, particularly foreigners, have suffered in the past from purchasing a house in good faith and legally registering the sale only to later see it demolished or have basic services denied when it was discovered it had been built on private land without permission, a common practice in regions such as Valencia. Many homes have also fallen foul of the Coast Law which says that the first 100 meters next to the shore should not be developed.

If the proposal becomes law, if a homeowner has all the required documentation proving purchase, their abode will be safe from the bulldozer's blade. The change could apply to tens of thousands of properties in Spain.

The draft legislation aims to "favor urban rehabilitation, regeneration and renovation," and to avoid costly demolitions as "the stock that has already been constructed, which is unsold and empty, is so oversized." Up to a million unsold new homes are on the market in Spain and construction has fallen by 88 percent since the start of the economic crisis.

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