Unwelcome neighbours

news: Unwelcome neighbours

There are many official caravan sites across the Algarve where people can legally park their caravans and utilise the services on offer – water, toilet and shower facilities, electricity and gas. However, more and more illegal ‘static’ mobile homes are appearing across the Algarve and in some areas of the Alentejo. They are owned by people who have bought plots of land that cannot be built on, so they have parked their mobile homes there permanently.

One such area is Quinta de Laga Vista in Foral, near Tunes, a protected area where plots of land are being sold, on which nothing can be constructed. Locals in the Foral area are up in arms about two ‘static’ homes that have appeared in this ‘green’ area in the last year. They claim that they are unsightly, that their owners are building small constructions and cess pits on the land, and they are illegally connected to mains electricity.

One local, who requested to remain anonymous, commented: “This is ridiculous – there are plenty of taxpayers who are denied planning permission by their local câmaras and accept it. Meanwhile, these people are living, illegally, without any permission whatsoever, but are getting away with it.”

Another resident says that the value of his house has decreased since the caravans moved in. “My property is of a substantial size,” he explained, “and I used to have a really nice view of natural scrubland. Now my view is blighted by unattractive caravans. I am slightly set back off the road, but before you arrive at my house, you have to drive past a caravan site and, in short, it is putting off potential buyers.”

He explained to The Resident that his surveyor has advised him not to put his house on the market until the caravans have been moved, because he will not receive anywhere near the price that he would have achieved if the mobile homes were not there. “I’m pretty well stuck until this is sorted,” he added.

But it seems the static homes are here to stay – at least if their owners get their way. Speaking to The Resident, the owners of one of the caravans, Chris and Bob, who declined to reveal their surnames, explained that the situation had arisen from an innocent mistake. “When we bought the land, we did so with the full intention of living in our static home – the estate agent did not explain the law,” Chris told us. She admitted that the whole situation had upset her tremendously.

The couple know that they have upset some of the residents in the area, but have implored them to be patient. “We are currently going through the motions with Silves Câmara to get this whole thing sorted out. But until the laws which protect the area are properly explained to us, we have no way of knowing what action we need to take to become ‘legal’.”

Chris and Bob are already connected to electricity and have also set a small fossa (cess pit) in the ground on their land. “We did not know that we couldn’t build a cess pit or that we were not allowed to be connected to electricity,” Chris confirmed. However, the couple refused to comment on the legality of their situation. “It has become ridiculous and we are both very distressed,” Chris finally admitted.

Foral residents have been communicating with Silves Câmara for over a year now in an attempt to find a solution. They are concerned that the number of static homes will continue to grow and that the area will become known as a good place to put an illegal mobile home. In a bid to clarify the situation, The Resident contacted Silves Câmara President, Isabel Soares. However, at the time of going to press, she was unavailable for comment.