A group of some 200 mostly British pensioners living in Spain face having their utilities disconnected. Some of the expats, who live in the Gea y Truyols area in the region of Murcia, have lived at their properties for 20 years. Many snapped up their dream homes in the sun after being assured by local lawyers that the properties they were moving into were legally sound.
However, the houses were built without planning permission and are therefore considered illegal under Spanish law, despite repeated attempts by the expats for them to be legally recognised.
Because they are illegal, the homes are not eligible to be officially connected to the water and electricity mains.
One of those affected is 72-year-old Linda House, who does not have a proper electricity supply to her home.
The retired personal assistant from Essex moved into her home with her late husband, Vic in July 2003.
She told Express.co.uk: “We’re happy with our environment. It’s a wonderful place to live. We really love it.
“But it’s just so aggravating that we worry each year whether our electricity will get cut off.”
For a period after Linda moved in, her home was connected to a builder’s supply of electricity.
The expat was eventually cut off however, but eventually was connected to the mains once again.
She said: “We have managed to get a kind of electricity supply where I live.
“But the other houses where my friend lives, and lots of other people, had to rely on solar power, at great expense to install, and generators. That situation is still the same now.
“The other thing of course is, we don’t have potable water. We have agricultural water, because our houses are built on what was farmland.”
One of those who has had to install solar panels is Linda’s neighbour Keith Willis, who moved to Spain 21 years ago from Windsor.
The retired Heathrow Airport worker, 71, lives just up the road from Linda with his Partner, Pat.
Speaking about his lack of access to electricity, Keith told Express.co.uk: “That was the worst thing, obviously.
“But fortunately, my partner moved over here with me, and she helped me get the solar electric, so we’ve been fine since then.”
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Like Linda, Keith had been on a builder’s supply of electricity to his home under an arrangement with Murcia Town Hall, before the supply was cut off.
He said: “We went through a period of a year or two years where he hired industrial generators for each of the plots.
“So, we had three massive generators that we’d all agree that we would pay for the diesel for these generators.
“Volunteers went round, filled them up and kept them running.
“But then we had problems with power surges, people’s TVs blowing up and all that sort of thing.
“At one stage I was paying €500 or €600 a month for electricity to the builder for the diesel, the hire of the generators etc, so that wasn’t an ideal situation.”
Linda, Keith and many of the other expats also do not have access to clean tap water and are forced to use a supply of agricultural water that is not fit for human consumption.
The expats allege that Murcia Town Hall knew that their homes were being built without planning permission – causing their current predicament – but that the local authority allowed the developer to build anyway.
Murcia Town Hall did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We closely engage with the Spanish Government and regional Governments on matters relating to UK nationals’ rights.
“We encourage any UK national in need of consular assistance to get in touch with their nearest embassy/consulate or call the 24/7 phone line for support.”