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Thread: 8 years, 2 'successful' court cases and thousands of email later and still confused

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2011
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    Unhappy 8 years, 2 'successful' court cases and thousands of email later and still confused

    I purchased 2 properties in August of 2003 for completion July 2004 and put down a deposit of £100k. The developer never built the properties and I subsequently started legal proceedings to either get a property or my money back. That was over 8 years ago and I have never seen my money or feel any further on.

    I first discovered that my first solicotor never secured a bank guarantee nor ever advised me there was such a thing. I spent 18 months with the first solicitor but was really unhappy with progress and therefore changed.

    In February 2008 I won a court case with a second solicitor awarding me EU147k. The joy was short lived as I was then told I had to start second court case to seize a property as there was nothing in this award to force the builder to pay what I was awarded (go figure - what's the point?). In addition I was also told I had to pay the EU21,000 legal fees to get my own money back.

    The second court case took many more years and eventually my solicitor found property through the courts. My solicitor registered an Embargo on the properties in July 2008. I paid a further 1500eu to a procurador, 800eu to the evaluator to value the properties that we had an Embargo on.

    I have now waited a further 2-3 years again to try to get the properties to auction. I am now informed that there are people living in the properties I have an embargo on. My solicitor has been unable to find the people as they are German nationals. As a result the solicitor is now saying that he is going to take the properties to auction however if at a later date the residents of the properties in question are found to have a legal right then they could sue me!!!. The solicitor is saying that the residents of the properties have not registered their right with the land registry as it is still shown under the builders name but he went on to say that this isnt conclusive. My solicitors English isnt great and his expectation setting, reassurance and explination of the process is far from re-assuring to the point where I am as confused now as I was 8 years ago. I have no idea what to do or if I am worse off. I am particularly scared about seeing some kind of closure as far as an auction is concerned only to be counter sued. Is there anywhere I can get some decisive and clear advice as my solicotor is doing little to explain the process and advise me accordingly.

    Specifically I could use an answer to the following questions:

    1. Does the process I have been through (embargo, procurador, valuation etc) through the courts, all on advice and at additional costs, not validate, not only that there is no debt on the property, but there is no-one with legal right to the property before the embargo is placed?

    2. Is there anyway I can find out if there is anyone with legal right to the property without writing to every Notary in Spain?

    3. If someone has purchased the property but not registered this at the land registry what are the implications?

    4. Is there no protection either in the UK or in Spain for UK citizens purchasing property in Spain? I am thinking a UK court process, British embassy, equivalent of legal aid or citizens advice or perhaps a trading standards or governing body so I can obtain clear and concise advice?

    Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated. This has been a long and very stressful process that has led to a breakdown and financial ruin. Every time I feel I am getting somewhere I get more news setting me back years or worse still, costing me more money!!!

  2. #2

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    Hello Damocallaghan,

    I will try and answer your questions, though please note that these are somehow general, as we would need to review all the related documentation so we can advise accurately. The German people that are currently living in the property could have acquired rights over the properties and it is in the Judge´s power to determine who wins the case depending on the facts that can be evidenced.

    Now, in response to your queries:


    1. Does the process I have been through (embargo, procurador, valuation etc) through the courts, all on advice and at additional costs, not validate, not only that there is no debt on the property, but there is no-one with legal right to the property before the embargo is placed?

    Yes, indeed. Right after the embargo and before the auction, the Land registry certifies that the dwelling has no further charges and encumbrances and that it is executed as per ownership ( the developer, in this case ), that is, that there is no other entity with rights over the property. Once you have that documentation, the courts of Justice will order the auction. However, as your solicitor is advising you, this is not conclusive, as there could have been, for example, an error at the Land Registry Office when notifying that the owner was the developer, whereas the real owners are the German people. These individuals can actually sue you, and prove before the courts of justice that they have a better right than you as the party that takes the dwelling to auction. If the mistake at the Land registry could be proven, the Germans would keep the property and you would have to start a case against the Land registry for damages.


    2. Is there anyway I can find out if there is anyone with legal right to the property without writing to every Notary in Spain? Yes, you can order a Land Registry Search that will indicate it in a certified note. We do offer that service at Lawbird, so please check this link to our specific service: http://www.lawbird.com/services/view/13. A Land Registry search can be made by owner or by property details.


    3. If someone has purchased the property but not registered this at the land registry what are the implications? In that case, the said person could lose the ownership if the seller got into debt.

    4. Is there no protection either in the UK or in Spain for UK citizens purchasing property in Spain? I am thinking a UK court process, British embassy, equivalent of legal aid or citizens advice or perhaps a trading standards or governing body so I can obtain clear and concise advice?

    No, there is not anything like that. Any individual that wants to exercise his/her rights must approach a solicitor ( if the individual does not have sufficient financial resources, there are public defenders ). If you require a second opinion, you can ask a different lawyer or make a consultation at the corresponding Association of Consumers. As far as we know there is not any for the defense of British property buyers in Spain.

    Regards,
    Patricia Martin
    Legal Assistant at Lawbird
    Check My Profile

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