Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Information and questions about the Law in Spain and Andalucia.
hangoverocks
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Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:57 pm

Our delightful Spanish neighbours are taking us to court.
But, it appears that they must attempt first, the "Acto de conciliación", which also happens in court.
Will be heard 9th April 2019.
Story is; we built a new house in the city of Granada, all legal and above board but these next door-neighbours have been seriously unfriendly since before the first day of the build.
Since there is no legal flaw in our build, they are claiming that we haven't built the house properly; "failue of supervision, direction and execution of works". Two years ago they denounced us officially (no action was taken by the authorities) and we have had several meetings of lawyers, but they say they are unsatisfied with the results. This also seems to have delayed our being granted "Licencia de primera ocupacion", "Fin de obras" (End of works) was 18 months ago and still we cannot live there.
Of course their accusations are wrong and I will prove it, but nonetheless, and this may give them some satisfaction, it is costing us money and delaying us getting on with our lives.
I sometimes wonder if some type of hate crime is happening.
Anybody had any experience with this type of thing?

Pamela1
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby Pamela1 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:02 am

I am surprised that no one came along and acknowledged your post.
Reading your post does bring up questions, if your new build has no flaws and each stage of the build was inspected and everything was in order (not sure if it works the same as it does in the Uk) then i am puzzled as to what influence your neighbours have had to the reason why your house has not been signed off.

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country boy
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby country boy » Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:20 pm

Have you asked a professional these questions? It seems a bit strange to me, definitely worth a few Euros to "UP" your game I think!

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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby Gasman » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:28 pm

Sounds like you really need an english speaking spanish lawyer by your side for the April Conciliation and to get your act in gear with him/her beforehand as to exactly what your position is within spanish law and how best to present your case, which of course the abogado will do for you at the hearing - worth a few euros as CB suggests!!
Has anyone suggested claiming compensation from the neighbours in view of your lack of a home for 18 months, legal costs, and if you are renting instead of being in your new home, the costs for that as well ...?

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:43 pm

Thanks for your comments - sorry I missed notification of them,
Pamela1, no it doesn't work the same as in UK; from square one in the UK I believe you have to publish a notice of your intention to build and anyone can view the plans and make objections before the building starts. No such thing in Spain and I think this may be at the bottom of it ... that these neighbours would have objected before the start had they been able. Instead, as far as I know they complained and organised against us from day two of the build (demolition/excavation).
Country boy and gasman I have had an English speaking lawyer from the begining, although mostly we speak Spanish and I may have lost some subtleties of his advice. He has had to visit the site several times because of the neighbours claims; first they claimed that we were building too close (closer than 3 metres I think) to one of their windows, our lawyer confirmed this as not true. Then they claimed we had installed a rainwater drain on their land, our lawyer confirmed this as not true. Then they contracted their (second) lawyer, and (second) architect to meet with our lawyer and architect with a list of complaints. Their lawyer privately told our lawyer that he considered their claims were unfounded and that he would advise them not to proceed!
Nonetheless, they have proceeded, they say that they are unsatisfied with the results of the meetings and therefore they are taking us to court.
They claim:
1. that our works have caused cracks and damage to their house (I have photos from 2014 (before we bought the plot) that show these same cracks).
2. that we have splashed cement onto their walls (I have my lawyers' letter from 2017 asking when we might clean these splashes).
3. that the rainwater drain (mentioned above) is so close to their property that they will be obliged to maintain it, so they demand we rebuild it differently (I think we will have to argue this out in court, it gets more complicated).
4. that our new terrace overlooks their roof, therefore we must build a 2 metre concrete wall so that we cannot see their property (this has some Spanish legal validity - I have already constructed a fabric "obscuring mesh" screen which has been approved by Urbanismo).
5. that we have removed cables that hung in front of our house without cleaning-up/making good afterwards (Urbanismo demanded that we bury the telephone cables that hung in front, so we built a tunnel-access under the pavement and Telefonica had to relocate said cables into this tunnel). Their court claim shows no photos or details of the claimed incomplete cable works.

All of the above, you might think, are vexatious claims, made in order to frustrate and delay us.
Our lawer has said that we cannot argue that they are making frivolous or vexatious claims - this woud have to be made in a separate action brought by us.
We must simply answer their claims in court.

Pamela1
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby Pamela1 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:40 pm

I read your post earlier this afternoon, couldn't help but think "nightmare". Considering that now in Spain you almost need a licence just to cough i am surprised that you didn't need to submit your intention to built etc and any objections would have been ironed out before your build started...Having said that..with your said neighbours involved you may have been submitting quite a different post which may have been read as ..."i have been waiting X amount of years to start my build but the neighbours have had one objection after another!
It so does sound to me that these neighbours do not want your house to be there...and they are going to extreme lengths to cause you problems. I do hope that you do get to draw a line under all of this and hope you are able to pass your court costs onto them should you win the case they have brought against you....Good luck and let us know how it all turns out. :wave:

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Thank you Pamela1, I think you are right, the neighbours do not want us to live there.
In these circumstances I think the UK Planning laws are much better - at least if our start of works had been delayed two years we'd still have all our money - and we wouldn't be paying IBI for a house we are not allowed to livein. (I have argued unsuccessfully with Catastro against this).
My wife is Japanese and, by complete coincidence, the next-door-neighbours on the other side are also Japanese.
I have wondered if there may be any race-hatred going on, I contacted the local Japanese association but they were unable to help.

Pamela1
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby Pamela1 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:25 pm

Interesting about the neighbours also being Japanese on the other side..Have you spoken to them about your neighbours? Have they had any problems with them?

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:33 am

No, I,ve been in UK since December, the neighbours launched their suit in January.
Actually the Japanese are very reluctant to associate with any trouble for other people, that seems to be their culture, even my wife refuses to consider my suspicions.

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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby wollie » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:03 pm

I know this is not what you want to hear but at the end of the day both of you will need to compromise.
You will need to attend the proceedings and hope for a good outcome, make sure you are seen to being reasonable.
It surprises me that your lawyer did not suggest some sort of mediation or it may be that they did.
It also may be a possibility that you should take abit of advise from "herself" wife.
Generally when lawyers get involved in these things they get worse.
The only winners here will certainly be the lawyers as i assume it is costing you both a hefty sum.

Good luck...

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:34 pm

Thanks for that advice.
You say "make sure you are seen to being reasonable": do you speak from experiece here?
Our lawyer, like us, hoped it was going to go away, especially after the plaintiff's lawyer confided to him that he didn't think they had a proverbial leg to stand on.
It's costing us 500€ in lawyers fees to answer their complaints (+disbursements).
I understand that to bring the action the neighbours will have paid 500€ Coiurt fee, plus a lawyer (or two?), a notario and an architect who drew-up their list of complaints. I don't know if any of these are "friends" of theirs who might do the work cheap or free.

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:13 pm

:o Just to fill-in some of the missing details...
Urbanismo told us that they are scrutinising very closely our "Petición de licencia de primera ocupación" because the neighbours "denounced" us two years ago - they may have found that Urbanismo mistakenly gave us License to build, but we were granted the Licencia de Obras and they can't revoke it, aparrently. But Urbanismo may be covering their own backs in case our neighbours go after them!

Catastro said that the IBI tax is due from the date of "Fin de Obras" - which is certified by the Colegio de arquitectos and (maybe also) the colegio de aparejadores. I was arguing that we cannot legally live in the house because we don't yet have the Licencia de primera ocupación (which, incidently, means that we cannot get an electricty connection) so could we pay a lower IBI or similar? Does anyone know if they have a lower rate of IBI, for ruins for example?
Catastro said that our only way-out of the new IBI would be to revoke the "Fin de obras" certificate.... of course, without that certificate we can't apply for Licencia de primera ocupacion, so it looks like we will just have to swallow this expense!

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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby Miro » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:17 pm

What a terrible situation to find yourself in. I feel the greatest sympathy for you. I'm afraid I can't offer any advice (having never really been in a similar situation) but a couple of questions spring to mind from what you have told us.
Firstly, has your lawyer specifically said that it is solely the neighbour's action against you that is delaying the issuance of the licencia de primera ocupación? It seems a bit strange that the town hall would not issue the licence, if everything has been built according to approved plans etc., just because one neighbour is having a hissy fit about things their own lawyer believes are unfounded. And secondly, leading on from that - what is the relationship between these neighbours and the town hall? I don't mean to sound facetious; the situation genuinely makes me wonder if they have some kind of influence over decision makers there.
Don't worry about what people think, they don't do it very often

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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby wollie » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:02 pm

hangover yes i have considerable experience of how the system works and sometimes does not though i have not had a problem in Spain. Saying that i did end up paying IBI two times for 3 separate years, the error was made by my advisor and the Ayuntamiento were very understanding but the mistake was mine and advisor.

From my experience in dealing with people in power the less information you let them know you have the better for you as they can sometimes use the information you pass to them to fallow a different path.
It is likely they did not inform the neighbors of the pending build which would leave them seriously *beep* if they could have lodged an objection.
I do not know if your licence was given at local level or the "Colegio de arquitectos and (maybe also) the colegio de aparejadores" you mention.
I wonder is there a possibility that there was lack of communication between local Ayuntamiento and these people.
I know it is difficult but there a possibility that the officials messed up and the neighbor has every right to be aggrieved.
Basically you seem to have everything in place so it should be ok but if the decision makers notice a personal "feud" between an ex-pat and a local, i think this be better avoided.
It is likely to be ok but these official type people always get the compromise that covers their nice offfice jobs so i think in this instance the less you say the better as everything seems in place.
I do not think it a good idea to ask to change IBI arrangement as if you ask for this to change you are accepting that some of the rules can change, then the neighbor may ask for some other compromise.
I wish you well but be careful as there is alot at steak for you.

good luck...

hangoverocks
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Re: Neighbours taking me to court - Acto de conciliación

Postby hangoverocks » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:39 pm

maervellous advice wollie, I will read this over several times. Thank you.
and Miro thank you for your sympathy but don't worry - it's not so terrible - I'm not in a rubber boat in the middle of the mediterranean or at war or sick or anything! - I think I can take this level of aggro .
I'm slightly more concerned about what might happen next, the neighbours seem pretty determined to upset us, if I frustrate them at this stage they presumably have the option to take it further (legally).


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