British expats in Spain are facing disaster as post-Brexit rules come into force, with the Daily Express reporting that one expert believes they could be human rights deprived.
Thousands of Brits living in popular tourist destinations are said to be considering packing their bags after morestringent immigration rules were brought in.
The UK’s exit from the European Union means those wanting to live on the continent are faced with meeting certain conditions to gain resident status, including financial means and health cover.
More than 350,000 Britons are registered as permanent residents in Spain, but recent statistics revealed that 2,400 British residency applications were rejected this year.
On top of that, UK citizens can now only visit Spain without a visa for up to three months for tourism and business purposes and the Spanish Government has warned overstaying their welcome can be considered a “serious offence” by authorities.
The punishments range from fines of between €501 (£429) to €10,000 (£8,562), a possible expulsion from Spain as well as a potential ban from the Schengen area (Spain, France, Greece and Portugal) for six months to five years.
Many expats have been forced to sell their homes in Spain as a result, which according toLeon Fernando Del Canto, founder of London-based tax set Del Canto Chambers, could constitute a human rights infringement.
Human rights infringement
He told Express.co.uk: “This is a serious issue for those not wanting to become tax residents in Spain and who bought their properties before Brexit.
“There is, from my point of view, a serious human rights infringement on those cases, as no one must be deprived from their rights to enjoy their property freely.
“The 90 days Schengen limitation should be waived on those cases.
“It is quite worrying for those who owned property in Spain before 31st December 2020, and who have not yet got a residency permit.
“Their rights are being infringed by the Schengen limitations in accordance with the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC), which states that individuals have a legal right to ‘peacefully enjoy’ the possession of their home and deprivation of possessions by states should be subject to certain fair and equitable conditions.”
UK government action
Mr Del Canto added: “It is worth noting that in addition to the UK being a member of the Council of Europe, the ECHR applies to any foreign citizen in Spain.
“State rules preventing people from peacefully enjoying their property, independently of whether it is their main residence, are likely directly to violate that convention right.”
He has urged the UK Government to challenge their Spanish counterparts on the issue, warning this is also the case for several other jurisdictions in the continental bloc.
The expert said: “The UK Government should take the issue of the property owners’ human rights affected by Schengen to the Spanish Government.
“This is also a case in other EU jurisdictions.”