Alotca announcement – looking to the future

Alotca announcement – looking to the future

More cases have now been heard, and the same verdict is being given for them all: these are, of course, just those where the evidence for the fine was based on internet inspection alone. The verdict is being given even where the ostensible reason for the fine is the lack of a complaints book and notice. I say “same verdict” rather than “same judgment” because the tone of the judgments has changed. They are now considerably stronger in our favour, and more critical of both the government, and the tourism law itself.

All the judgments so far have come from courts 2 and 4. We have cases in courts 1 and 3 also, and expect the first judgments from them before the end of this year, probably next month. Court 3, as I’ve said before, is the most pro-government of the four, and the only one of them all to insist that the fine money was lodged with the government itself, rather than the Courts. This means that when we get verdicts from court 3, it may take considerably longer to get the money back. Refunds from courts 1, 2 and 4 should be very rapid, and the first formal applications for refunds will be made next week. As I’ve also said before, we are confident of the verdicts now, and should by any chance a different ruling be given, this can be appealed as a “contradictory verdict”.

As I’ve said before as well, because the fines were less than €30,000, the courts had the power to prevent any further appeals, and they have done this. Because Turismo rejected the courts’ suggestion of a class action, however, we still have many more cases to steer individually through all four courts, and even with several a day being heard, it will be May 2014 before we expect to get judgments on them all. This should give a fair idea of quite how many fines were issued – illegally, as we now have it from both courts and Presidencia-Consejo Consultivo.

I had a meeting this morning with José Escobedo and Santiago Saenz in view of the above, and we agreed that since we now have multiple “sentencias firme” (final judgments), it is a good time to look to the future. Alotca was never formed simply to defend fines, but to be a lobbying association on behalf of owners affected by the legislation. Although I am president of Alotca for this year, it is an association with five founder members, and so I hope the following will be taken as reflections of this morning’s meeting and thinking aloud in writing, rather than as firm statements to which I, or we, will be held if future events are slightly different.

We think that the judges’ comments in the more recent appeal rulings are very strong, and that there is now a clear case, and perhaps even a mandate, to clarify, amend and redraft tourism legislation, at least as concerns private owners. One area we will be concerned with is tightening up and specifying the means and methods by which inspections may be made, not least because Turismo is now determined to go all out to carry out inspections that will be legally valid, and particularly to revisit those where first fines were imposed and rejected by the courts – they know that when they impose a further fine, it will be at the higher level of around €30,000 for a second offence. We also envisage seeking the legal right for private owners – of touristic properties and independent villas – to draw up private touristic contracts on their own behalf. We are not contemplating the abolition of the sole agent system, but rather allowing private owners to operate independently alongside them if they so wish.

This is the briefest of outlines of the way we’re thinking and we have commissioned an Alotca website, which we see as a bilingual and interactive resource to flesh this programme out much more fully. We see the website, though, as not just a static hub for information and updates, but also for members themselves to register and participate in the process we will be undertaking and heading. We are prepared to take this fight on, and take it to the government, and envisage carrying out this work ourselves: if necessary, we will redraft the whole law, something that is constitutionally permissible, and well within the capabilities of the two lawyers, with support from Maria, Paul and myself. This work, however, and the fight in general – and it will be a fight – will cost time and expense.

We don’t want to undertake it if people don’t have the stomach for it. I don’t think a single one of the five of us has personal interests in the matter, but if there is a widespread need, we will take it forward. Having said that, although we do not see Alotca as a personal profit-making enterprise, we think that it is not unfair that the time and expense that will inevitably be involved should be covered, and were considering something in the region of €50 a year. So, we would be grateful if readers could let us know whether they would like, and support, these proposals.

Even as I was typing the above, I received an email (now one of many) from someone who had been facing a nightmare and who can now “sleep well tonight”.  We have achieved a solid and resounding victory for many ordinary people who had trustingly invested in these islands, but we want to do more, and try to ensure that they will now be able to enjoy their properties, in the majority of cases, as they originally envisaged. Please let us know whether you’re with us in this fight either by replying to this post or by email to me at help@janetanscombe.com.

25 Comments

  1. Janet, Count me in, i think you have all being doing a fantastic job. Thank you.

  2. Count me in too Janet and well done to Alotca!

  3. I think everyone at ALOTCA deserves a great thanks from all owners who have been involved in the so called (touristic) illegal rentals. I think it is in their interest to become fully paid up members of ALOTCA to ensure that their interests are being represented by an organization that has constantly proved its worth.

  4. Well done Janet and the team, I’m sure it will be a long battle to get a sensible resolution but I have no doubt you will get the best result for property owners. Happy to lend our financial support.

  5. @john…yes but only a long term basis..ie a minimum of a 3 month let is required.

    Well done to all at ALOCTA.

  6. Janet & Co, you’ve done a fantastic job getting a result that many of us thought unlikely.

    I see you say that Alotca has commissioned a website. I would be happy to volunteer my services for generating and/or looking after the website if you are looking for help with this.

  7. Author

    Thanks Ben, that’s very kind. I think we have it covered, but as ever, an offer of extra help should it be needed is much appreciated!

  8. I think the proposals for €50 annual fee is very sensible and as a result likely to attract a large membership.

  9. Author

    Thank you all, it’s great feedback, and together with the many emails I’ve received, does suggest that it tunes in with the way people are generally thinking. I appreciate it, and you can rest assured we will do our utmost. I’ve spent an hour or so today shortlisting some designs for the site, and I hope to be able to have a meeting with the designer, José and Santiago next week … that’s the current plan anyway. I’ll keep you informed!

  10. Well done Janet and all the team.
    Phew! Sanity and common sense is now beginning to prevail at last in Tenerife.
    I fully endorse the €50 fee. This is a small price to pay to bring back some prosperity to the island.

  11. count me in, how do i join the association, can i count on them lobbying to get this ridiculous law changed, europeans should be able to invest in the canaries, and they will not do so if they cannot get a return on their investment. Well done

  12. Author

    Thanks chris, and everyone else. We’ll have the website up and running as soon as humanly possible and I’ll post about it, and give a link, immediately.

  13. Very many thanks for what yourself and Alotca are doing for owners and I would be happy to contribute at whatever rate was decided.

  14. Well done everyone.
    I gladly endorse the 50 euro fee.
    Regards
    Keith

  15. Author

    Thanks all. We’re hoping to go live with the new website in the early part of next year. Meanwhile, we’re finalising details, including the subscription structure, and, of course, compiling and writing the content.

  16. Just a suggestion Janet. If the new website has the feature to accept membership fees by way of visa it will widen its appeal even further as it will be so very quick and easy to make the transaction. That obviously attracts commission to visa, so the membership fee would need to be raised slightly to accommodate that facility. It could even have an ‘auto renew’ that a member may select if they wish to remove the hassle of remembering to pay every year.

  17. Author

    Thanks Andy. The method of payment is not the most straightforward because, I understand, there are some limitations on a Spanish asociación since it is not a business. That issue is being discussed with the developer, anyway. Certainly the issue of reminders and renewals is well in hand.

  18. Any progress on the new Alotca, looking to the future?

  19. Author

    Yes, we have the website ready, hosting sorted, URL organized … we’re just struggling to find time to get the text content. It has to start in the lawyers’ office, then I’ll be putting it into English, but it has obviously got to take second place to actual legal work, an awful lot of which is for “illegal letting” clients. We’re getting there, please bear with us.

  20. That’s great, looking forward to taking part.

  21. I thought there was a positive breakthrough in Lanzarote regarding the letting of villas for holidays have you heard anything?
    Do you know if the Holiday letting petition that has been working it way around the islands has had any backing? I can’t see any mention on your website but I have probably missed it.

  22. Author

    As I think I said at the time, any “breakthrough” was possibly misreported because this is a Canarian government law and no one island can do anything independently of the government’s law! The latest situation is that the period for discussion to compile the reglamento is either just finished or finishing, and in a few months the government will revisit the legislation to see what needs clarifying. For the moment, the law is in force with the exception only of the clause dealing with restrictions of building licences for 5* hotels – Gran Canaria wants that reduced to allow them to build 3* hotels – but with that one exception, there is no change.
    .
    As to the petition, my personal opinion is that the Spanish and regional governments do not usually show themselves much amenable to public opinion, but with regard to the plataforma behind it, its leader has told me that she does really believe that foreigners have been unduly or disproportionately affected by the legislation. As I said on the radio to Clio O’Flynn the other day, Alotca and the plataforma have different ideas, but we have agreed mutual support because we have a similar end target.

  23. Thanks Janet, all seems pretty hopeless if they have made up their minds there is nothing anyone can do.

  24. Surprised that you have not made a post on THIS Janet?

  25. Author

    I haven’t posted because I’ve already said everything about Ascav that I can say HERE. Their ideas, aims and style are different from Alotca’s but we have agreed mutual support because we have a related goal in getting the government to turn from protectionist policies, and in that general respect, we wish them every success. In respect to this particular article, I intend to limit myself to the comments that the piece is a PR exercise and Alotca has never undertaken those, and that the Canarian president is said to be “surprised” at the extent to which private holiday rentals are undertaken and reviewing the legislation. This is exactly what he said to Alotca when we met with him previously, and we didn’t believe it then either, not least because the new law last year was predicated on the belief that it was overwhelmingly widespread and needed stamping out.

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