It was a full house at Catral’s Casa de Cultura last Friday morning for a meeting organised by Catral’s Neighbourhood Watch Association to discuss the new 1% tax proposed by the Town Hall to include all illegal houses on the town’s PGOU or General Plan. Over 200 residents packed into the meeting room to listen to local solicitor Carlos Hernandez explain the tax implications that have been set out by the Town Hall.
Senor Hernandez started the meeting by explaining how the 1% tax would work and on what exactly it would be based on. According to the Town Hall, once this tax has been paid, homes will no longer be classed as being on rustic land and will be included on the plan, which crucially, still has to be approved by Valencia. The majority of the audience members were British expats and the solicitor, who is entirely independent and not associated with the Town Hall, spoke in English throughout. He told the audience that his explanations regarding the 1% tax were his own personal opinions and views.
He started off by saying that, in his opinion, the Town Hall had handled things badly and said that it could have been publicised better. He said: “The Town Hall should have had the application forms in English as the majority of people affected by this situation are British expats.
By asking residents to contribute 1% of their home’s value, it means that they will be included in the PGOU, however the Town Hall has made no guarantees that the residents will not be asked for more money. In fact, the solicitor stated that the second phase of the Town Hall’s plans is likely to involve further fines and payments and therefore will mean more cost to the home owner.
He also said that residents should be well aware of the consequences should they not pay the 1% tax, which could include the Valencian authorities going ahead with demolition orders as well as the Town Hall ordering utility companies to cut off supplies of electricity and water. This statement was met by an angry reaction from the audience; especially when the solicitor went onto say that the Town Hall had every right to notify the authorities of a non payment of tax, making homes unsellable and with a distinct possibility that they will be demolished. He said: “It could be a month, it could be a year, but believe me, it will happen.”
Play the game
Carlos continued: “In my opinion, some houses may need an amnesty as fines may have already been paid. There are many different circumstances, but the one thing that everyone in Catral has in common is this 1% tax.” The solicitor then explained how to fill in the application forms issued by the Town Hall and which have to be in by the end of the month. The 1% tax is based on the valuation of the property and its structural contents including garages, pools and barbeque areas. He said: “If you pay this tax, you will be left alone. If you don’t pay, or don’t pay the exact amount, the Town Hall will fine and then impose orders of demolition. As soon as payment is made, they will open the file on your property.
There are two ladies from the Town Hall measuring properties in the municipality, so please do not lie or you will be found out and fined. It is very expensive to process a PGOU and due to the lack of resources at the Town Hall and not much income due to the recession and lack of building licences, they need the money and by not complying with their demands, the subsequent fines will be extra cash in their pocket.” If residents are in financial difficulties, it will be possible to postpone payments. Carlos said: “You are entitled to by law to postpone, but you must speak to the Town Hall and apply for it.”
He concluded: “My advice is to pay. If you do, you are in the game. If not, you will not have any say with the Town Hall. You cannot be included afterwards and the Town Hall will cause you problems. Play the game and they will be more flexible.”
Many residents were not happy with the opinion of the solicitor and as a result they have arranged a further meeting to take place. As far as the second phase is concerned, the criteria will include an architects’ report. RTN contacted Raquel Diaz Maleubre who is a Technical Architect from Diaz MH Architects in Torrevieja. She has been involved in issuing reports for homes in Catral and told us: “We are aware of the existing problems in the Catral area and are keen to help the residents in the municipality.”
Raquel has got lots of experience in this field and is in close contact with Catral’s Town Planning Architect, Luis Rocamora Ross. Raquel informed us that she believes that this situation will mean an economical effort from the homeowners, but she said that in the end it will be a positive outcome for owners with illegal buildings in Catral.
Source :Round Town News