The following horror story appeared in the online “Algorfa News” in early April:
This is Europe!
So How Could This Happen?
Jan and Pete Wooll have, like so many Brits, found their ‘Dream in the Sun’ has literally crumbled into a ‘Nightmare in Hell’ and all because of the incompetence and greed of a Spanish developer, Meraban SL., based in Villamartin, Orihuela Costa.
Last Friday morning, 4th April, Pete left for work around 8:30 a.m. as he normally does, and no sooner had he’d driven away, the builders moved in with demolition machinery and started bulldozing the boundary walls of his Lo Crispin home.
Jan of course telephoned Pete immediately to come home. The Local Algorfa Police were summoned, and arrived within 15 minutes. They indicated they should go to Guardia Civil in Almoradi to issue a denuncia. “The Police struggled to comprehend the mayhem.” Pete told us today.
Jan and Pete appear to be bearing up very well considering what has happened to them. How could their ‘Dream in the Sun’ end up like this?
It all began in April 2004, when after carefully researching the area AND the developer, Jan and Pete put down a deposit to secure a ‘luxury 110 sqm executive villa’ on the new Lo Crispin Urbanisation in Algorfa.
Near to the completion date which was promised for May 2005, the family moved to Spain in rented accommodation to await the completion of their ‘dream’. They correctly made the stage payments to Meraban for the property in accordance with their sales contract, totalling 260,000 Euros.
The developer seemed to have several problems with the construction of this phase of 18 villas (out of a total development of 70 properties). The construction was still not completed six months past the agreed handover date. A not unfamiliar story in Spain!
As Jan and Pete’s rental contract could not be extended any further, Meraban SL agreed in November 2005, that the family could move into the property even though it was not completed. At this point Jan and Pete had not been to the notary so technically the property was still owned by the developer. Jan and Pete had secured a mortgage offer on the villa of 120,000 Euros to finalise the purchase of the property on completion.
Jan and Pete were told that the paperwork would be completed in early January 2006 for final hand over. However, before this could take place major structural problems began to appear with the property. But the builder assured Jan and Pete all would be well and not to worry and that the ‘slope’ that had developed in the swimming pool was because the water in the pool wasn’t level!
Serious subsidence became evident in the boundary wall at the back of the property. After a water leak, the boundary wall began to bulge and water started pouring out of the wall. Meraban proposed to fill the rear garden with concrete and tile over the area. They said this would stop the subsidence. Jan and Pete took professional advice from an architect, who informed them that the ground the property was constructed on had been incorrectly prepared and that the reason for the volume of water present should be investigated. The ground originally was a water reservoir for irrigation of farm land.
Within this small development of 18 villas, other properties began to exhibit similar subsidence problems.
Despite the ongoing unresolved issues, during September 2006, Meraban SL declared the property completed and demanded the final payment of 120,000 Euros. Jan & Pete attended the Notary as requested, even though the construction was still not completed. Bizarrely, the builder failed to attend the Notary offices to complete the sale, much to the annoyance of the Notary. Unfortunately, the original mortgage offer had now expired, as it was only valid for 6 months. When they applied for a renewal of the offer, it was suggested this be put on hold because a) the building was incomplete and b) there was no date for completion set. This could lead to further costs if further delays occurred and again exceeded the 5 month period. This left Jan and Pete between a ‘rock and a hard place’. In a fit of temper and in attempt to intimidate the family, the developer demolished part of their boundary wall.
A further demand was made to Jan and Pete to attend the Notary in late 2006, even though the construction was still not completed. This time the builder failed to deliver the correct paperwork to complete the sale! In any event, at this point, their solicitor would have advised them not to proceed, as the property was still incomplete, and the mortgage lender would not release funds as a result.
Jan and Pete now took legal action to force the developer to build their house correctly and to rectify the subsidence.
After two years of harassment from Meraban SL, things finally came to a head on Friday morning last, when the Developer changed his ‘negotiating tactics’ and arranged the demolition of boundary walls, making it almost impossible for Jan and Pete to get in or out of their home. Could this also have been an attempt to cover up evidence of the subsidence?
Jan and Pete have been to the Guardia Civil and have denounced the developer but they are now wondering what will happen next?
We have to ask the question, “With all the blatant evidence of subsidence around this property, why hasn’t somebody in authority investigated how this could be happening?”
Presumably the Developer was given permission by the Planning Department of Algorfa Ayuntamiento, to construct the properties in an area that was once a reservoir.
How can this state of affairs be allowed to continue – where are the developer’s architects, engineers and the Ayuntamiento when these people desperately need help? Surely Meraban cannot be allowed to bully Jan and Pete and ruin their ‘Dream in the Sun’! So far, no one has been in communication from the Ayuntamiento to offer help or advice.
We also understand Lo Crispin urbanisation was scheduled to be officially taken over by Algorfa Ayuntamiento in March 2008, once the council architects had passed all the main requirements for the infrastructure. Perhaps they should have been investigating this matter a long time ago! (08/04/08).
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but merely conveys general information related to issues commonly encountered.