In the worst case scenario, people have seen their expensive dream homes demolished because they were built without planning permission. File photo: James Bird
The UK's Foreign Office is warning people not to venture blindly into the minefield that is Spain's complicated property market.
"Research, research, research," that's the message the Foreign Office wants to get across to prospective buyers of property in Spain.
Spain continues to be a hugely popular choice for Britons buying homes overseas, despite the economic crisis and well-publicized property scandals.
And most have bought properties without experiencing any issues, the Foreign office says.
But some buyers have been caught up in serious property problems leading to emotional distress and loss of personal and financial effects.
Poorly policed urban planning laws have resulted in some 300,000 illegal homes being built in Spain, expat property activist Maura Hillen has said.
The consequences can range from fines to difficulties in arranging connection to water and electricity to court proceedings..
In the worst case scenario, people have seen their expensive dream homes demolished.
British Ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman, explained what the British Embassy has been doing: "Although we cannot take action on individual cases, we continue to engage with the Spanish authorities at all levels to encourage them to address property issues affecting British nationals."
"We have seen the devastating effect property problems can have and we want to help prospective buyers avoid the potential pitfalls," the Ambassador said.
Spain's British Ambassador also said people looking at buying in Spain could talk to embassy staff at the A Place in the Sun’ exhibition in Birmingham in the UK from September 27th to 29th.
"One thing that just about everyone affected by property problems says is that they want to make sure other people don’t go through the same situation," said Paxman.
"People already living here can play an important role, by encouraging friends and family to do their research and get impartial legal advice before moving abroad."