A legal change by the Spanish Senate means Britons whose homes in Spain have been declared illegal and threatened with demolition should now be able to claim compensation before their properties are destroyed.

The amendment to Spain’s penal code was agreed upon by members of the ruling and opposition parties. In future, judges will have the power to delay the execution of a demolition order until the property owner has been compensated, as long as they can demonstrate they bought the house in good faith.

There are an estimated 300,000 illegal homes located across Andalucia and many of the foreign owners say that property agents and civic officials failed to inform them of the legal uncertainties during the purchase process.

Abusos Urbanisticos Alamanzora No (AUAN), an association which represents British and other owners of over 12,000 illegal homes in Almanzora, Andalucia  and which has been campaigning for reform of Spanish property law, said that the amendment “protects good-faith buyers, but does not go as far as [we] would have wished”.