Lambeg women loses £70,000 deposit on Spanish property
by MARY MAGEE
A LAMBEG woman has lost £70,000 after the collapse of an English company left her plans for a dream home in Spain a living nightmare.
Pat Rennix (59) was one of 70 people from Northern Ireland who paid the money as a down payment for an off-the-plan apartment at Estepona on the Costa del Sol. However the company they paid the money to has gone into liquidation and the complex has not been built.
Staffordshire based Ocean View Properties went into liquidation in August 2009 owing millions of pounds. And now Pat, who was mortgage free, is facing the prospect of working past her planned retirement next year and has seen her health suffer.
"I now have a mortgage which I will never be able to pay off. I have a home worth £140,000 so I only really own half of it now. I am not a gambler, I am very careful with my money and believed this was an investment.
This was my children's inheritance and now I have nothing else to leave them. It is so unfair. I feel that I have let them down. I am angry but I am more depressed about it. I feel that I have gone backwards.
"I have worked all my life since I was 16 and was never out of work. All I really wanted was a flat in Spain. Now I resent Spain - I hate it and it was a place I used to love." Pat became interested in buying the property in April 2006. The Church Hill woman was mortgage-free and thought it was the perfect opportunity to invest for her children's future and buy a dream home in Spain.
She then put down £5,000 as a holding deposit followed by a payment of £65,000. Pat flew out to Spain and was shown plans and told where her dream penthouse apartment with a shared pool would be built. It seemed a great deal with a prestigious tennis academy also involved.
"Lots of people were doing it," said Pat. "I was mortgage free, the economy was fine and with only a few more years before retirement thought a flat in the sun would be a great inheritance for my two children."
Pat was told her dream home would be built within 18 months. However, when her calls to Ocean View Properties weren't being answered, she feared something was amiss. She soon realised her home was never going to be built. Ocean View Properties was dissolved in March 2010 when investigators and liquidators were brought in to try to recoup some of the losses for its creditors.
The director of Ocean View came to Northern Ireland to explain that all their money had gone directly to the developer in Spain. Now Pat and the 69 others from Northern Ireland have set up a committee that meets monthly in Newry to try to get their money back.
They have a solicitor, Antonio Flores, to act on their behalf. He met the chair of the Office of First and Deputy First Minister committee, Tom Elliott, on Wednesday to enlist political support for a legal challenge against the Spanish developer.
It is thought Pat and the other investors from Northern Ireland may have paid as much as £6m between them. Pat said the whole experience has left her angry and depressed.
"I am now on anti depressants," she said. "It is not fair. I feel I have let
my children down. If I get some of my money back I would be happy - even
half of it would be good. But I will be surprised to see any of it again."
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