Friday, 5 August 2016

Irishwoman Awarded MBE for Campaigning for Expat Rights in Spain

Irishwoman Awarded MBE for Campaigning for Expat Rights in Spain

Maura Hillen, who has been campaigning since 2008 for the legalisation of illegal properties has been awarded in MBE in recognition of her services to the British community living and working in Spain.

Maura Hillen has worked tirelessly since 2008  for
property owners rights
Maura Hillen MBE is the head of the Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No! (AUAN) body and she has campaigned at the local, regional, and even national level for the rights of over 500 expats who purchased property in the Amanzora valley in Almeria in good faith.

These expats, most of whom were British, would later find out that the properties were built illegally and could be demolished by the Spanish authorities; something that would leave them without a home and without any money.

The AUAN group fought to have basic amenities, such as electricity and water, approved for the properties. Her appeals worked their way through the Spanish courts as she acted as a go between for information between the council and the homeowners.

The results of her campaigning where shown in 2015 when the government introduced a major piece of legislation urging Spanish judges to remember that the homeowners themselves are innocent and that they were conned into buying the homes without realising they were illegal.

This legislation means that if the authorities to decide to demolish the property the buyers will be compensated at least.

Simon Manley, the British ambassador to Spain, was pleased by the decision to award Hillen with an MBE. He spoke of how tirelessly Hillen has campaigned to resolve the property problems that were affecting thousands of British buyers. The thanked Her Majesty the Queen for approving the honour.

He also added that Hillen has guided AUAN to become a well run and respected organisation that is managing to provide expert legal advice and realistic solutions to the regional and national authorities in Spain.

Manley added that the success of AUAN is a great sign that the broken legal system that was failing to recognise the rights of the homeowners or compensate them could be changed for the better.

Hillen was delighted to receive the award. She accepted the award on behalf of every member of AUAN who campaigned alongside her, especially the committee members and the former presidents of AUAN.

Buying property in Spain can have its pitfalls however with stricter laws now in place and having the correct searches made by your lawyer the days of being duped into buying an illegal property are being minimised.