The bass that David Fernandez bought in Carabanchel does not exist. The plans that the City Council authorized to build a building on San Deogracias Street, 32 do not correspond to the finished homes. Fernandez’s living room is where the kitchen should have gone and the room fits into a rectangle of less than nine square meters that was to be the community’s trash room. Although the works differ from the original project and do not comply with the municipal regulations, as a court of first instance has failed, the Consistory approved the promoter in 2010 and Fernandez came to live there without knowing that what he had bought was not in the Records: “What they have sold me is not my house.”
Arrived on the computer screen where he meticulously keeps all the writings, complaints and answers he has presented in these years, Fernandez, 49, tells us that he lives “a nightmare.” Last September he began to see a little light when the 21st court in Madrid proved him right. A judge saw “illegalities in the construction” of the house and ruled that the construction company sued by Fernandez, Linea Cinco Arquitectura SL, had to return to the owner the 133,891.96 euros he paid for the property, plus the legal interest and the costs of the procedure .
Now this neighbor from Madrid awaits a firm sentence to collect and be able to leave. “They have broken my life,” he laments. Fernandez, who is a public employee, moved to the house nine years ago and the first thing he noticed was that noises “clogged everywhere.” One of the walls of the room where you sleep is anchored to the door of the portal and leads directly to the access staircase. Every time someone enters or leaves, throws something, drag a shopping cart, talk or walk, he hears it “perfectly,” he explains. The other wall of the room is attached to the elevator, “hugging it”, as stated in the sentence to which eldiario.es had access.
The sounds that came from those common areas, exceeding the legal limit allowed, were the clue that made Fernandez suspect that there was something strange. The man filed complaints and for more than a year he was under medical treatment for insomnia. The construction company, first, and the community of neighbors, later, made repairs to isolate the room where it sleeps, but they were insufficient and further reduced the space, which does not reach the minimum of 10 square meters established by law.
The man returned to his parents’ house for some time, between 2011 and 2012, because it was unbearable to live there. When he got the original plans of the work, he understood what was happening and decided to sue the developer. “They absolutely modified the ground floor,” says the neighbor. The construction company was licensed to build a studio in Fernandez’s ground floor, but they had sold him a flat with a room.
Fernandez, who in these ten years has memorized each date and keeps in a drawer stacks of papers in the file, locates in October 2010 the trigger for everything that followed. That month, the City Council granted the construction company the first occupancy license, an administrative procedure that proves that the works were executed “in accordance” with the authorized project and are “duly completed.”
The first occupation license was delivered, according to the judicial expert consulted during the process, after the visit of municipal technicians and “under the protection of some photos and a plan” provided by the farm administrator. This plan has no date, author, seal of the City Council “or any other indication of officiality or authorship”, as the expert clarifies, and does not conform to the final state of the works, but corresponds to a study such as that authorized by the City Council .
According to the original project, Fernandez’s property would be a study of 31 useful square meters; the kitchen would be attached to the window and the bed would be located in an interior area – which now corresponds to the floor of the neighbor. Instead, the house they sold has 32.5 square meters useful and a room of 8.8. The construction company did not notify those alterations of the original project, but the expert understands that the first occupation license “covers all the modifications” that the developer made during the works.
A socialist councilor claims “municipal action”
“There was a bad practice of the administration in the concession of the licenses”, criticizes the socialist councilman David Calvo, who on Thursday brought to the Plenary Session of the Carabanchel Board a question about whether “urban discipline measures” will be taken in the building . According to the councilman, in addition, it is not an “isolated” case in the district.
The mayor believes that, while resolving the appeal filed by the construction company, “municipal action is decisive.” Until the sentence is final and while the first occupancy license is in force, the homes can be commercialized and, in fact, one is for sale. “It is legal today [vender los pisos] but the City Council cannot allow a profit with some housing that does not have the minimum conditions of safety and hygiene, “says Calvo.
The construction company sold most of the floors after Fernandez filed the lawsuit, according to the neighbor. The complainant had requested precautionary measures to avoid it, but the judge rejected them. Fernandez accuses the developer of marketing “in a hurry” and “below the market price” floors. “As soon as the demand arrived, the construction company reached an agreement with the SAREB [Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria] to sell the properties, “he says based on a document that states that both companies agreed to liquidate the homes in 2018.
The SAREB recognized in a response to the neighbor dated October 2017 that it has a loan in front of the construction company, but in that document it claims to be “a mere creditor” who has no “knowledge, participation or responsibility” in the “alleged judicial proceeding” . Fernandez, on the other hand, says he sent two bureauxes to the semi-public entity to warn them of the illegalities. “It’s a scandal, I informed them of everything,” he says.
Carabanchel’s Councilor, Alvaro Gonzalez (PP), who is also the City Councilor for Housing, did not respond Thursday to the question in the Plenary Session of the District Board on whether the administration will inspect the apartment and said he is unaware of the case. The popular mayor argued that it is “a particular case” and simply defended the actions of the Consistory: “I have a bad habit of respecting and trusting municipal technicians.” Nor has he answered subsequent questions in this newspaper.
“To avoid economic ills to the neighbors, it is necessary that the City Council, which has the power, make an inspection and reverse those first occupation licenses,” warns Calvo. The councilman defends that, if the sentence is firm, the owners of the rest of the houses will have the road paved to sue the construction company because there is a precedent. But if the promoter goes bankrupt, the sale cannot be reversed.
Line Cinco Arquitectura S. L. has not answered the questions in this newspaper because it considers it to be an “internal” issue of the company that “has no interest”. The company has filed an appeal in which it defends that the house “was delivered as agreed”, that the modifications do not disable the use of the houses, that the noise responds “to a lack of maintenance of the common elements” of the building and that, in any case, the “correction” of the deficiencies indicated by at least two experts are “as simple as cheap”.
Fernandez, who knows the expert reports in detail, cites these investigations and insists that the situation “has no solution” because the deficiencies are “structural.” “I have everything in my head, unfortunately,” he admits. In recent years, he has split his time between work and resolve this situation. He has even faced some neighbors, with whom he says the relationship is “zero.” “I have no choice but to solve it,” he resigned. He has no economic possibility of moving, but he does not feel at home in San Deogracias, 32: “I live in a problem.”