Just one month left to claim for lost Spanish property deposits

Just one month left to claim for lost Spanish property deposits

Spain
  • 28 December deadline looms for buyers who lost deposits to make claims
  • Opportunity applies to off-plan property buyers whose homes were never completed
  • CostaLuz Lawyers urging buyers who lost out to take action before it’s too late

There is just one month left for those who lost deposits on Spanish off-plan properties that were never completed to begin legal proceedings to try and get their money back. After 28 December 2020, these buyers will no longer have the option to take legal action against the banks and developers who took their money but never delivered the promised homes. As such, the team at CostaLuz Lawyers is urging any buyer who has not yet taken action to do so without delay.

The financial crisis hit Spain’s property market hard, causing a string of developers to go bust. Buyers from around the world – and in particular from the UK, due to the country’s long-standing love of Spain – suddenly found themselves without the properties they had been promised and without any means of claiming back their deposits.

CostaLuz Lawyers and Keith Rule changed all that in 2012, when they used a 45-year-old law to win a class action for off-plan deposits of almost €1.5 million plus interest and costs. It meant that those who lost their deposits now had recourse to take legal action against the banks who took their funds, as well as the developers.

The CostaLuz Lawyers team, with Keith now onboard, has won 450 such off-plan cases, including 110 in 2019 and 70 in 2020 despite the pandemic closing down much of the judicial system in Spain. Altogether, the CostaLuz Laywers team has won around €22 million for clients who lost off-plan deposits, but time is running out for those who have yet to start legal proceedings.

“In many cases, buyers are nervous about ‘throwing good money after bad,’ but we’ve proven time and again that legal action is the only way to win back not just the buyer’s original deposit, but costs and interest as well. Any buyers who don’t take action at this stage are effectively saying goodbye to tens of thousands of pounds – and sometimes more – forever.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es

CostaLuz Lawyers releasing ‘mortgage prisoners’ through distressed holiday home service

CostaLuz Lawyers releasing ‘mortgage prisoners’ through distressed holiday home service

Spain
  • Global financial crisis saw 36% fall in Spanish house prices (INE)
  • Prices now falling again, with 3.1% drop between March and September (Tinsa)
  • CostaLuz Lawyers facilitating below market value sales of distressed holiday homes before repossession

As Spain battles to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19, figures from Tinsa show that house prices have fallen by 3.1% since March – and by 7.6% in the Balearic and Canary Islands. It means that the country recorded its first year-on-year price drop for four years in September, with an average fall in value of 0.6%.

Yet for some of those who own property in Spain, this is just the latest instalment in a negative equity story that stretches back well over a decade. According to CostaLuz Lawyers, many families who bought holiday homes in Spain back at the peak of the bubble that burst so spectacularly back in the mid-2000s are still trapped in huge negative equity situations.

“Spanish house prices fell by 36.3% from 2007 to 2015 and many buyers are still trapped owning properties that are worth significantly less than they paid 14 or 15 years ago. With the economic situations in the UK and Spain both deteriorating as a result of the pandemic, and house prices in Spain starting to fall once more, many banks are open to taking back properties in lieu of the pending mortgage debt.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

Foreclosures in Spain were already on the increase before anyone had even heard the term “COVID-19.” According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), foreclosures in the first three quarters of 2019 were 11% up on the same period a year earlier. For new dwellings, that figure shot up to 36.9%.

Spanish banks are often keen to close such deals by the end of December, to tie in with the end of the financial year. This means that many British owners of negative equity homes in Spain will be feeling the pressure to give the keys back to the bank, particularly in light of prices now starting to fall once again. Yet these property owners are not without options.

“Homeowners facing this scenario often refer to themselves as ‘mortgage prisoners’ and believe there’s no way out of their predicament but that’s not necessarily the case. We offer two services that mean those trapped in negative equity can finally escape the situation.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

CostaLuz Lawyers has a service that enables homeowners to offer their properties back to the bank in lieu of their outstanding mortgage debt, negotiating the property’s handover even when the amount of the debt is significantly higher than the value of the home.

However, the company doesn’t stop there. It also serves to pair those wanting a way out of negative equity with those looking to purchase a below market value property in Spain.

“Most services of this nature take the repossessed property after it has been returned to the bank, add on a percentage and then sell it. We take a different path. We negotiate the sale before the repossession, using legal arguments to show how this is favourable to both the bank and the owner. It’s also highly advantageous to the new buyer, who can usually pick up a property for around 60% of the price paid back in 2007.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

There is no time limit on the sale of these distressed properties, meaning that both seller and buyer can work together to find a solution that suits all parties, with CostaLuz Lawyers coordinating the legal side of the process.

CostaLuz Lawyers is already renowned for helping over 1,500 clients from across the UK and Ireland claim back deposits previously considered lost on properties that were never finished or built following the financial crisis. Now, their distressed property service is helping another swathe of property buyers who were caught out by the crisis.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es

“You can’t hide from us!” – CLL offers fresh hope for owners scammed by ‘hidden’ developers

“You can’t hide from us!” – CLL offers fresh hope for owners scammed by ‘hidden’ developers

Spain
  • New hope for clients who lost money to developers posing as estate agents
  • Buyers have until 28 December to start legal proceedings
  • 100s of buyers in UK and Ireland could regain lost deposits

CostaLuz Lawyers has spent years helping clients who lost deposits on Spanish properties that were never built or never finished, winning nearly 850 cases against property developers and banks. Now, the firm is providing fresh hope for buyers who have previously been unable to take action to regain their lost deposits.

The new hope centres around growing case law in Spain in relation to ‘hidden’ developers. These are companies that operated as estate agents but were actually developers or co-developers, such as Ocean View Properties on the Costa Blanca and Palmera Properties on the Costa del Sol.

In these cases, this dual role of agent/developer was often hidden from the buyer. However, CostaLuz Lawyers advises that there is growing evidence that its existence opens up the possibility of the buyer claiming against such companies for a refund.

“These companies received huge amounts of off-plan payments for properties that were never built or never finished. Until now, they have escaped the rules of Law 57/68 by presenting themselves as estate agents, but there is now some strong case law stating that the developer is whoever takes the off-plan payments on account. That means there is a last chance for buyers to claim for refunds from these companies.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

Law 57/68 is the regulation under which those who lost deposits have successfully claimed against developers and banks for a refund. Claimants should have started proceedings by 7 October but that deadline has now been extended to 28 December 2020. This means that those who are out of pocket have a new window of opportunity. According to CostaLuz Lawyers, this could affect hundreds of buyers in the UK and Ireland.

The CostaLuz Lawyers team has already helped over 1,500 clients in their quest for financial justice. Those who now want their shot at obtaining a refund need to start proceedings before the new December deadline.

“28 December is the date by which action has to be started. But that just means sending a Burofax or submitting the Preliminary Diligences procedure – the actual lawsuit can be filed later, provided this initial action has been taken before the deadline.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

Cases submitted to Spain’s First Instance Court will take around two years to complete, while those that go on to the Provincial Appeal court could take around three. Any cases that go all the way to the Supreme Court could mean that buyers are looking at five to ten years before receiving a final ruling.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es

Spanish homebuyers urged to make most of off-plan claims deadline extension

Spanish homebuyers urged to make most of off-plan claims deadline extension

Spain
  • New hope for buyers who lost deposits for Spanish off-plan homes
  • Deadline for taking action against banks extended to 28 December 2020
  • Nearly 850 claims from developers and banks now won by CostaLuz Lawyers

Buyers who paid and lost deposits on off-plan properties in Spain have fresh hope, as the country has extended the deadline for such claims from 7 October to 28 December 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the team at CostaLuz Lawyers is encouraging homebuyers who were going to miss the October deadline to take advantage of this last chance to try and recover their money.

The issue relates to those who paid deposits on off-plan homes that were subsequently never built due to developers going bust. They are now able to make claims against the banks who partnered with the developers, provided their claims are in by 28 December 2020.

“The stress of losing a deposit on an off-plan property in a foreign country is immense. However, there is now considerable precedent for such monies being repaid by banks. As such, I would urge anyone who has lost an off-plan deposit to take action before the December deadline. It’s not too late to try to get your money back.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

CostaLuz Lawyers is a pioneer in this field. Having researched the issue since 2008, they filed their first off-plan deposit lawsuit against a property developer’s bank in 2011. In 2012, they won the case, with a landmark ruling resulting in a payout of nearly €1.5 million for the 47 buyers they were representing.

“It is a wonderful thing to be able to give hope to buyers who thought their hard earned money was gone for good. It’s even better to see their faces when we tell them that the courts have ruled in their favour and that the banks must repay them. Time is running out to make claims though, so buyers do need to act fast.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

Keith himself was part of that first off-plan deposit class action back in 2011/12. In fact, he was the instigator of it, working to bring the other 46 claimants on board to benefit from CostaLuz Lawyers’ expertise. Following the successful 2012 ruling, he took up a role with the firm and has worked as a core member of their team ever since.

The team has now successfully won nearly 850 claims from Spanish property developers and banks, with a further 500 in progress and 100 pending outcomes. Since that initial case, CostaLuz Lawyers has worked with more than 1,500 clients from the UK, Ireland, Spain and other European countries.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es

Over €2,000,000 already won in 2017 against 6 Spanish banks by CostaLuz Lawyers

Over €2,000,000 already won in 2017 against 6 Spanish banks by CostaLuz Lawyers

Spain United Kingdom World

· 13 court cases already won to date in 2017

· British and Irish property buyers queuing up to reclaim lost deposits

· The highest payout in any one case was €958,000 plus interest

· Spanish judiciary working to restore faith in Spanish property market

2017 has been a busy year for the team at CostaLuz Lawyers. After successfully supporting Keith Rule in his quest for justice over the €54,000 deposit payment he made to a Spanish developer who never built the home Keith had paid towards, CostaLuz Lawyers has been inundated with requests for help.

Now working for CostaLuz Lawyers alongside legal eagle Maria de Castro, Keith and his colleagues have so far supported 13 British and Irish claimants to victory in 2017. The cases focus on reclaiming lost deposits from Spanish banks.

“The wording of Spanish law LEY 57/1968 and the ruling made in respect of my own case opened the doors for those in similar situations to come forward and try to recoup their lost investment. It’s not a quick process, but it is possible to beat the banks and reclaim funds that were handed over in good faith, even if the transaction dates back many years.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

So far, 6 banks have been ordered to make payments to CostaLuz Lawyers’ British and Irish clients this year: SGR, BBVA, Banco de Sabadell, Caixabank, Banco Popular and Caja Rural.

The amount awarded across all 13 cases totaled €2,155,072, plus an amount of interest that is still being calculated. The highest payout in any one case was €958,000 plus interest.

Those being represented hailed from all over the UK and Ireland, while their investment locations were spread out across Spain. The only thing they had in common was that they had paid out money for a dream home, only for their dream to turn into a nightmare.

The reasons for the clients’ legal wrangling were varied. In one case, at La Reserva de Marbella, the homes had been built illegally. Another related to the Malaya political and planning corruption saga at Marbella’s local council. Yet another was due to the developer’s descent into insolvency when Spain’s economy crumbled following the global financial crisis.

Whatever the reason, CostaLuz Lawyers has been fighting to gain back the money that British and Irish property buyers lost.

“These successful judgements are making a huge difference to people’s lives. The stress associated with going through the process of losing so much money can never be taken away, but at least a ruling that the bank is required to pay back the money (plus interest) finally draws a line under the matter.

“However, there’s more to it than simply getting people’s money back. The evolution of Spanish case law that we’re seeing is going a long way to restore faith in the Spanish property market. The Spanish judiciary is working hard to ensure that a system exists in which individuals’ rights are respected and that Spain is one of the safest countries in the world for the purchase of off plan property.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es 

10 year ‘David & Goliath’ crusade finally sees justice for off-plan Spanish property buyers

10 year ‘David & Goliath’ crusade finally sees justice for off-plan Spanish property buyers

Spain United Kingdom
  • Keith Rule’s victory over the Spanish banks gives hope to those who lost deposits
  • CostaLuz Lawyers representing hundreds of off-plan buyers who lost money
  • All those who lost deposits before 1 January 2016 are eligible to claim

 

2006

When Keith Rule paid the €54,000 deposit for his dream property in Spain back in 2006, he had no idea that it would be the start of more than a decade of legal wrangling and, ultimately, a whole new career path.

Keith thought that he was taking the first step in buying a dream second home when he paid his deposit. However, things began to go wrong almost as soon as he had handed over the money. He wasn’t given a bank guarantee. Then the developer began falling behind with the build schedule.

2007

In 2007, while chasing the bank for the much-needed guarantee, Keith came across Spanish law LEY 57/1968. Keith’s interpretation of the words ‘bajo su responsibilidad’ (‘under its responsibility) in that law was that the developer’s bank was obliged to issue or confirm the existence of the guarantee, as it had received the off-plan deposit.

2008

With the developer falling further and further behind, Keith appointed Maria de Castro of CostaLuz Lawyers in 2008 and set up the Finca Parcs Action Group, along with 46 other claimants who were in the same position as him.

2009

He continued gathering evidence into 2009, when the developer finally abandoned the construction project entirely. Keith held several meetings with the developer’s bank, travelling between London and Murcia in order to speak to those in a position to help. However, his guarantee was still not forthcoming.

2010

In 2010, determined to recoup his investment, Keith set up a website for the Finca Parcs Action Group. He also launched the Bank Guarantees in Spain petition, setting up the Bank Guarantees in Spain website in the process.

2011

A year later, he joined other affected buyers in staging protests against the Spanish Government when they visited London for a property road show. He also joined a delegation that met with Europe Minister David Lidington in London in order to further publicise his cause.

 

“I was determined that – somehow – the other buyers and I would be heard. The stress and frustration that result from so many years of battling an unwilling system were hard at times, but we knew that we had a right to receive our funds back. Giving up was simply not an option.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

 

Maria de Castro at CostaLuz Lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of Keith and the Finca Parcs Action Group against the Spanish developer and the bank.

2012

In 2012, a First Instance Court ruling was made in favour of Keith and his fellow property buyers. However, the bank appealed.

2013

The Provincial Appeal Court considered the case next, ruling once more in favour of Keith and the Finca Parcs Action Group in April 2013. The total pay-out was €1.5 million plus interest.

The success in court and the 7 years it had taken to achieve it had seen strong bonds form between not only the Finca Parcs Action Group but also between Keith and CostaLuz Lawyers. He joined the CostaLuz team and now works fulltime to assist others in their quest for off-plan deposit reclaims, running the UK office since 2013.

2014

In 2014, CostaLuz lawyers filed lawsuits for hundreds of affected off-plan buyers against developers’ banks, relating to properties all over Spain.

2015

In 2015, the law that had led to Keith’s success – LEY 57/1968 – was repealed and replaced by LEY 20/2015, which came into force on 1 January 2016. The new legislation means that only off-plan deposits made before 1 January 2016 are eligible for reclaim under the original LEY 57/1968 law.

2016

2016 saw the Supreme Court confirm its doctrine on liabilities of banks receiving deposits, though a case won by CostaLuz Lawyers/De Castro against Caja Canarias (now Bankia) for an off-plan property in the Canary Islands. The case, which marked a decade since Keith Rule first began his crusade, has given fresh hope to those still awaiting the return of their own deposits.

2017

Keith’s battle continues. Now he fights together with CostaLuz lawyers on behalf of others who were affected by investing in off-plan developments that were subsequently abandoned.

So far in 2017, 12 new cases have been won against off-plan developers’ banks in the First Instance Courts by Keith and CostaLuz Lawyers, for 34 individual buyers, with just over €2 million euros awarded, plus interest of approximately 800,000€ and costs. Around 450 clients’ cases are still in progress.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es

 

Q&A: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?

Q&A: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?

Spain

Thousands of Brits are believed to have lost deposits put down on holiday homes in Spain over the last decade.

Dreams of owning a second property in the sunshine to enjoy holidays with family or retire to have turned sour, leaving many out of pocket by tens of thousands of pounds.

But hope is not lost, CostaLuz Lawyers, together with “the Erin Brockovich” of Spanish property, Keith Rule, are righting these wrongs having been the first to identify Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 and use it to successfully win over £10 million (€12 million) in lost deposits for their clients.

CostaLuz Lawyers has won almost 850 claims in total from Spanish property developers & banks, helping more than 1,500 clients from across the UK and Ireland as well as Spanish and European nationals.

Last week Maria Luisa de Castro, Founder & Director of CostaLuz Lawyers, secured £1 million from Caixabank for nine British families whose homes in Malaga were never delivered. Working alongside DeCastro’s legal team, CostaLuz Lawyers also has around 100 cases still pending outcomes in the Appeal Courts and more than 500 cases still in progress in the First Instance Courts.

If you paid a deposit on an off-plan property in Spain but did not receive a refund, read the below Q&A with Maria Luisa de Castro to see if you can claim:


Q: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?

A: You are if:

  • You have a cancelled purchase contract, either by Court decision or by the Bankruptcy administrators of the developer
  • Your development was never started or finished on time according to the purchase contract and you have a Bank Guarantee

or:
You do not have an individual bank Guarantee, but you do have a General Guarantee contract signed between developer and the bank

or:
You completed on a property with no First Occupation License—in this case mortgage repayments are also recoverable

or:
You have none of the above but you have copies of all off-plan payments made to the developer’s bank account.  Even if you paid your off-plan deposit to a third party i.e. conveyancing Lawyer or Agent, it may be possible to obtain the evidence required on your behalf to enable the Lawsuit to be filed against the developer’s bank.


Q: What am I entitled to claim back?

A: You can claim all amounts paid off plan, plus legal interests normally from the payment dates.  Legal costs may also be recoverable in some cases.


Q: Are banks actually paying this money back?

A: Yes, they are. Banks are solvent entities that must comply with the law.  All banks with a firm court decision against them are refunding the claimants. Even if the developer’s bank no longer exists, action is still possible against the bank that has taken it over.  For example in the Finca Parcs case the developer’s bank was Banco CAM which was taken over by Banco Sabadell so the action is now against Banco Sabadell.


Q: How safe is this action?

A: Supreme Court has already interpreted the full text of law 57/68 in favour of buyers/consumers, so the success rate is very high.


Q: Are banks settling out of court?

A: In a small number of cases Banks do offer settlement out of court, however this is normally only for the principal amount with no interest or costs.


Q: Does this apply if I bought more than one house?

A: It does, as long as you didn’t do so as part of your professional trade. It also applies if the contract mentioned these guarantees explicitly to secure the success of the business.


Q: Does it apply for commercial premises?

A: It does, if the guarantee was offered in the contract


For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith Rule. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit
www.costaluzlawyers.es.

The ‘Erin Brockovich’ of Spanish property still fighting a decade later

The ‘Erin Brockovich’ of Spanish property still fighting a decade later

Spain United Kingdom
  • Keith Rule uncovered Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 that allows banks to be held accountable for off-plan property deposits
  • In 2012 Finca Parcs Action Group and CostaLuz Lawyers win case against the bank resulting in a pay-out of almost €1.5 million
  • “With Brexit creating uncertainty, now is the time for investors to begin reclaiming what is rightfully theirs” (Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers)

Back in 2006, Keith Rule, an ordinary man from Milton Keynes, decided to take the plunge and buy his dream holiday home in Spain. Like many other Brits at the time, Keith paid a deposit for the off-plan property to a Spanish developer. A substantial sum of €54,000.

However, his dream was short lived as he did not receive a bank guarantee. And when the developer fell behind on the build schedule and ultimately abandoned the project in 2009, Keith’s investment was at serious risk.

Taking matters into his own hands, Keith’s research led him to Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 in which he found what would become a key phrase in his fight for justice. Just three little words, ‘bajo su responsibilidad’, which means ‘under its responsibility’.

Keith believed that according to this law, the developer’s bank which received the off-plan deposits was responsible for issuing or verifying the existence of the guarantee.

In 2008, needing legal assistance in his quest to hold the bank accountable, Keith was turned away by several Spanish lawyers before contacting Maria de Castro of CostaLuz Lawyers.

Keith gathered a group of 46 other buyers who had invested in the same development, in the Spanish province of Albacete, to act against the developer’s bank.  They were known as the Finca Parcs Action Group and in 2012, together with Maria, they won their case against the bank which resulted in a pay-out of almost €1.5 million plus interest & costs.

After this unprecedented success and landmark case, Maria asked Keith to join the CostaLuz Lawyers team in order to help others. Keith now works exclusively with CostaLuz Lawyers, operating the UK office and assisting thousands of other British, Irish and European nationals to recover off-plan deposits.

Dubbed “the Erin Brockovich” of Spanish off-plan property due to his pioneering work, Keith continues to help other buyers who undertake similar legal procedures.

 

“There are still a significant number of people that are yet to have their deposits returned to them. The Spanish legal system has definitely transformed over the last decade, in relation to allowing owners a high level of success with deposit reclaims, as more and more cases are being won and trust is beginning to grow. However, with the Brexit process creating a sense of uncertainty, now is the time for investors to ask for help and begin reclaiming what is rightfully theirs.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers

 

CostaLuz Lawyers has successfully won almost 850 claims in total from Spanish property developers & banks, helping more than 1,500 clients from across the UK and Ireland as well as Spanish and European nationals.

In addition, they have around 100 cases still pending outcomes in the Appeal Courts and more than 500 cases still in progress in the First Instance Courts.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit www.costaluzlawyers.es.