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Founder Elisa Álvarez in Marbella's Plaza de Los Naranjos. D. Lerma
Association to protect community homeowners is born on the Costa del Sol
Legal

Association to protect community homeowners is born on the Costa del Sol

The group has been formed to defend the rights of victims affected by proxy voting and other problems on residential complexes

David Lerma

Marbella

Friday, 28 June 2024, 12:08

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"The worst part is the proxy votes. They leave us powerless," explained Elisa Álvarez to SUR. Elisa is the president of the newly formed Apercove association of victims in neighbourhood communities. Last Tuesday she appeared with some of her associates outside Marbella town hall during a presentation to the media.

Originally from Granada, Álvarez's frustrating experience in the Benalmádena residential complex where she lives has made her the voice of a widespread problem on the Costa del Sol.

"When the residential community association is hijacked, the president can turn it into their personal fiefdom," she claimed.

The most publicised case recently is the Torre Bermeja community in Estepona, where British president Stephen Hills earns a salary higher than the Spanish Prime Minister, thanks to the proxy votes of his compatriots who only reside on the complex during the holiday season. Many affected people on the Costa del Sol feel powerless. They want the horizontal property law (which governs the rights and responsibilities of property owners in multi-unit buildings) changed because, according to Elisa, the corruption can even involve the hiring of gardening or maintenance companies.

Tricks

Elisa described some tricks allegedly used to control some community associations on the Costa del Sol. "More people call us every day to warn us," she said.

Generally, the community president does small favours to gain the trust of those who don't live in their properties year-round; "Don't worry, I'll pick you up from the airport." Or they promise to watch their houses to prevent squatters, warning them to be careful. "Or they cut off the electricity and quickly fix it when the owners arrive."

Then they call the president "to thank them for their efficiency. They do what they ask because they see them as their saviour," she added.

Elisa Álvarez said that collusion with the property managers is common. "In the end, they have to rely on them. The electricity trick happens a lot." In the Torre Bermeja case, she claimed "it's much worse because the foreigners don't care about the meetings.

There was a woman with documentation problems, and they fixed it for her. Since then, she has given her vote to the property administrator," she explained.

"Little favours, don't think it's more than that. They don't know the language or how the administration works, but they can give them their vote for life," Álvarez complained. "You have to notarise each vote at every specific meeting."

Change the law

The legal route is long. "That's not where we should go. We need to change the law. We are tired of filing complaints and lawsuits that cost us a fortune and lead nowhere.

The presidents and property managers don't care," she explained. Her home is "about to collapse, in ruins" because of a problem with rusting iron. "It's 60 years old, and I can't do anything."

"We've come together because many of us have had the same experience," she concluded. In Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola... and now people are calling from beyond the province.

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