Human rights deprived! Expat disaster over homes bought in Spain before Brexit

Spain: Expert explains ‘repercussions’ for British expats

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The expats are reportedly leaving the hugely popular tourist destination “in droves” after more stringent immigration rules were brought in when the UK left the European Union on December 31, 2020. Brexit came into full force on January 1, 2021, but Britons now looking to move to Spain and other countries in the European Union are faced with meeting certain conditions to gain resident status, including financial means and health cover. More than 350,000 Britons are registered as permanent residents in Spain, but recent statistics revealed that 2,400 British residency applications were rejected this year.

UK citizens can now only Spain without a visa for up to three months for tourism and business purposes and the Spanish Government has warned overstaying their welcome can be considered a “serious offence” by authorities.

The punishments range from fines of between €501 (£429) to €10,000 (£8,562) a possible expulsion from Spain as well as a potential ban from the Schengen area (Spain, France, Greece and Portugal) for six months to five years.

When asked about expats being forced to sell their homes in Spain, Leon Fernando Del Canto, founder of London-based tax set Del Canto Chambers, told “This is a serious issue for those not wanting to become tax residents in Spain and who bought their properties before Brexit.

“There is, from my point of view, a serious human rights infringement on those cases, as no one must be deprived from their rights to enjoy their property freely.

“The 90 days Schengen limitation should be waived on those cases.

“It is quite worrying for those who owned property in Spain before 31st December 2020, and who have not yet got a residency permit.

“Their rights are being infringed by the Schengen limitations in accordance with the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC), which states that individuals have a legal right to ‘peacefully enjoy’ the possession of their home and deprivation of possessions by states should be subject to certain fair and equitable conditions.”

Mr Del Canto added: “It is worth noting that in addition to the UK being a member of the Council of Europe, the ECHR applies to any foreign citizen in Spain.

“State rules preventing people from peacefully enjoying their property, independently of whether it is their main residence, are likely directly to violate that convention right.”

He has urged the UK Government to challenge their Spanish counterparts on the issue, warning this is also the case for several other jurisdictions in the continental bloc.

The expert said: “The UK Government should take the issue of the property owners’ human rights affected by Schengen to the Spanish Government.

“This is also a case in other EU jurisdictions.”

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The number of new British home buyers dropped to a historic low, according to the most recent official data from Spain’s Land Registry, which saw them account for just 9.5 percent of all purchases.

Recently, property expert and real estate managing director Robert Barnhardt told many Britons in Spain are now starting to sell their properties because of increasing post-Brexit difficulties.

He said: “A lot of retired British people are starting to sell up.

“They used to come down here in September or October and then stay until April/May for the six months of better weather.

“But now they can only come for 90 days and also a lot of them used to drive down.

“The Spanish are now getting pretty strict on foreign plated cars and mainly British cars.

“Down on the rural roads, where I live out in the sticks, a lot of people have been driving around in the same English cars.

“I mean I’ve certainly seen them for 10-15 years with the same vehicle. And now it’s against the law and they’re being impounded.”

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