Spanish senate considers changing penal code to protect purchasers in good faith

‘A golden opportunity’ according to campaigners

The hopes of home owners associations from across Spain have been raised by a proposed change to the Criminal Code (Codigo Penal) presented by the PSOE political party in the Senate (the upper house of the Spanish parliament) on the 18th February.

The amendment seeks to ensure that third parties who purchase an illegal property in good faith receive compensation before the property is demolished.  Homeowners group AUAN from Almeria and its sister association SOHA in Malaga, who have long campaigned for this change, are calling on all political parties to support it.

Speaking on behalf of the associations the lawyer, Gerardo Vazquez, said, ‘the normal practice is that the promoter is given a small fine for building an illegal house, whilst the person who spent their life savings on the house, sees it demolished with a theoretical order of compensation that never actually happens.  In reality, the victim receives the greatest punishment and this cannot be right.  Certainly, the environment must be protected, but the end does not justify the means if you violate a person’s fundamental right to inviolability of the home, their human right to property and their constitutional right to decent housing.  The protection of the environment must be applied in a proportionate way and reach its limit when it affects human rights. The solution is simple, first compensate and then demolish.’

The change, promoted by AUAN and SOHA, and now presented by the PSOE, has also received the backing of associations from across Spain such as the Andalucian Confederation for planning legalization (CALU) which incorporates associations from Cordoba, Jaen, and Malaga, AUN and Abusos Urbanisticos Lliber NO from Valencia and AMA (Asociación de Maltratados por la Administración) from Cantabria.

The spokesperson continued ‘These associations represent tens of thousands of people across the country. I believe that they are grateful that the PSOE has taken the bull by the horns and proposed this change to the Senate. However, we sincerely hope that this is a matter for political consensus and that it receives the support of all the political parties. This change will help many people who desperately need a solution.’

‘AUAN, SOHA and the other associations have spent many years trying to resolve these problems and this is a golden opportunity to take an important step forward. We trust in the common sense of the political parties, who exist to solve the problems of the people, and we hope that in the next few weeks we will be able to celebrate the entry into force of this change.’

The amendment is now with the Judicial Commission of the Senate which is made up of representatives of the various political parties. At the beginning of March the Commission will make a decision about the amendment and there will a general vote at the end of March in the Senate.

AUAN press release, 20th February 2015

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