First post on behalf of elderly Aunt living near Vilamoura. She is in a spot of bother and like us all, very worn down emotionally from the events of the pandemic.
The situation is: she bought a place out in the country 20 years ago with Uncle who sadly is no longer here but she loves the life and her family get to visit and have glorious memorable holidays. She lives on a plot with an old farmhouse beside her house, and had a local builder construct a small carport/utility room about 10 years back. She is surrounded by other ex-pats to the back and to the side is a separate plot with a derelict building. We were aware of the restrictions to building in the countryside but she always said she would let us know if ever the derelict place went up for sale.
About 2-3 years ago, she received a phonecall from a solicitor acting on behalf of a new neighbour. Apparently the derelict site had been sold to them and the new owner was claiming she was squatting on their land not to mention the little utilities building being there too on that piece of land, without 'planning papers'. Thing is she and my uncle had checked all of this out years previous through hiring all sorts of solicitors and surveyors, who clearly boundaried the land. There is an old chart from 50 years ago which she says might in a rough way indicate some implication of a boundary problem. Her solicitor seems to be washing his hands of it and says she should work something out with the neighbour. She is beaten down by the whole matter and I have told her I would get involved. She fears costs of disputing something like this and feels she will get nowhere being a 'foreigner'.
The first thing that comes to mind is - Is it worth defending or should she fold amicably? I wonder who is to blame for the error if there has been an error, and if she can actually chase them for some kind of compensation? If she were to fight it legally, how long would the case stretch for and is she looking at thousands in legal fees!? If she were to sell up altogether would any buyers be put off by an outstanding dispute? From my searches on here I've also seen the 'splitting the plot' option - not sure if that could be done with her farmhouse, she said she is open to it, in that case we would have our own holiday home right beside her! She is aware the little utilities shed is a problem and I've said she might be able to apply for planning retrospectively, or if not to knock it and rebuild it - but she says she may receive a massive fine from the camara. She hasn't met the neighbour but says she is willing to negotiate something with them, although I do not anticipate that going well for her.
Sorry for the long post! I will probably have to seek independent legal advice before I chime in for her I guess, but any guidance or anecdotes of relevant experiences would be most welcomed!