The story of the luxury house in Carmelo that a mayor's chief was going to buy and unleashed a legal mess

The story of the luxury house in Carmelo that a mayor’s chief was going to buy and unleashed a legal mess

The house is about 500 square meters and is surrounded by vineyards. The vines imported from France are just a fraction of the landscape of incredible sunsets offered by this luxurious country estate in the city of Carmelo, Colonia.

But the exclusive house with several bedrooms and built on one floor has been the subject of contention for months and in recent weeks a judicial relationship began. This house is owned by an Argentine couple, Gabriela De Maio and Pablo Barletta, and is mortgaged. Since February, Martín Avelino, director of Territorial Planning and Environment of the Municipality of Colonia, has lived there.

The only thing in which their stories came together was that for some time they had been negotiating for Avelino to take over the house. But they differ in objectives, form and deadlines.

While De Maio and Barletta maintain that Avelino occupied the house —and for that reason they filed an eviction lawsuit—, the hierarch affirms that he is being the victim of a scam and that the couple threatened his family, for which he filed the corresponding criminal complaint , rebuilt The Observer. She pointed out that she tried to file a police report because he did not leave the house, but that they did not want to take the report and even, according to her, she was detained for a few hours.

According to the potential buyer, it was a rent with an option to buy. In any case, at no time was a contract signed.

In a moment, Avellino even sent him a sketch of the lease — in which it is not mentioned that the house was mortgaged — and, according to De Maio, at that moment she called him and told him that the house was not for rent.

But they, in their eviction lawsuit, said that they have known Avelino for years and in early 2023 they had begun negotiations to sell him the house. They were looking to cancel a debt since the house was mortgaged and they could not continue paying.

On February 5 of this year, they gave him the keys —always according to the couple’s request— so that he could see her, since they lived in Argentina. They indicated that they intended to also sell them the furniture that was in it. In turn, they noted that they were surprised when they found out that Avelino was already installed there and that he said that he had rented the house.

However, in the response to the lawsuit, Avelino attaches a WhatsApp audio, to which he agreed The Observerwhich De Maio sent him on February 6 that contradicts the version told in the lawsuit.

“Yes, deposit those 10, they make the move calmly, if you already know and let Nuber know to give them the key, that you are going to be there, they are going to start a move and that’s it, now, forget if there is trust, for the house to be empty, I prefer that you be there”, says the audio.

As a result, he understood that he was authorized by her to move. In addition, the hierarch’s account differs on another central point: what they were negotiating was a rent with an option to buy and not a purchase.

In the messages released by The Observer, the question of a rent is mentioned repeatedly, but the parties attribute it to different issues. While the couple indicates that it was due to a bureaucratic issue transfer of the UTE smart rate from the place where Avelino was a tenant to the new property and that they were not at all in agreement with that idea.

In the same way, It is stated in the messages that on February 27 or 28 the house was going to be deededpreventing a purchase.

Regarding the disagreement regarding the point of the move, Barletta sent a message to Avelino on February 27: “Martin, I authorized you to enter my house to leave some furniture but not to LIVE IN IT, because you were the buyer who was going to do business with the offer you presented to the bank. From the moment you did not set a deed date and no notary appeared either. You were displaced by another person who already presented a notary and set a deed date. You never specified a lease with us, and I I didn’t know you were living in the house. Please, I ask you to leave my house.”

In a March 1 message, De Maio told him his wife asked him to give her “a few days” to get out of the house. “I would like to know how many. As long as what they need is reasonable,” she added.

“Gabriela, if they don’t give me back the money I put for the rent plus the expenses… I’m going to wait for the judicial process. Once the money is returned, another farm will be sought to rent circumstantially ”, Avelino replied.

To which De Maio replied: “You never rented the house, you were only going to buy the house and that money was for the furniture that was left in the house.”

Avelino wrote to her that he was in a meeting and that he couldn’t talk, that they shouldn’t call him until the other day at noon, but she insisted and told him that someone would come and get the keys. He quoted her message that he had not rented the house and wrote: “Gabriela, enough lies!” In turn, she warned him that everything was already judicialized.

Buy or rent?

The never-signed lease between the parties — and the one the couple claims was never under consideration — stipulates a sum of $19,800 for two years. This would mean about US$825 in rent per month.

Avelino paid that amount, despite the fact that there is no signed contract, in parts through a bill of exchange. From the messages, De Maio’s anxiety about getting paid is clear, due to a personal matter that he had to resolve in Buenos Aires, and some delays by Avelino, which were later corrected.

That transfer, according to the municipal hierarch, was the rent in advance. For the couple, it was because of the furniture that came in the house. In the conversations surveyed, a table that the alleged tenant was going to return is mentioned and there is also an audio recording of Avelino asking him about two pieces of furniture that he would be interested in keeping.

In parallel to the conversation where the rent was mentioned, in the same way the deed of February 27 or 28 was mentioned, which ended up frustrating and both parties throw away the responsibility.

Avelino believes that, since the house was foreclosed —a matter that he pointed out to her in a chat on February 10, in which she told him that she knew nothing about it— she wanted to sell him the house and transfer the lien to him. He asked her, with a loan from that same bank, to get money to lift the embargo and then sell him the house, money with which he could pay off the loan. But her rush to sign, Avelino understands, was because he wanted to sell it without all that happening.

For his part, The couple maintains that Avelino never called the bank to find out what the status of the house was and that what he was looking for was to delay the process and keep only the rent to be able to buy the house at a cheaper price when it goes to auction, since it was mortgaged.

For this reason, the Argentines indicate, when they noticed that he did not have the money to pay for the house and that he was only looking for delays, they decided to cancel the business and try to sell it to someone else. They also ensure that if it had been sold, the embargo would automatically be lifted.

It was a specific lien on the house – about US$ 600,000 – and if it was not sold it would go to auction.

The chief, when answering the lawsuit, indicated that what this Argentine couple wanted was to defraud him, wanting to force him to take responsibility for the embargo and the mortgage. To pay for it, among other things, he recalls that De Maio was investigated in Carmelo for fraud. According to police information to which she agreed The Observerwas investigated once in 2015 and another in 2022, but a judicial investigation was not opened.

According to a letter from the Colonia Headquarters to Justice, when they were summoned on May 25 as a result of the complaint made by Avelino about threats, De Maio warned that they were living in Monterrey (Mexico). Consulted about it by The Observerthe woman explained that she was in Monterrey that week for a personal matter but did not say she lived there.

Now, if everything continues as before, the property is expected to go to auction. Avelino lives there with his family and intends to demonstrate that although there is no signed documentation, he is the legitimate tenant of that house. Meanwhile, the Carmelo Justice must define if what happened was an illegal occupation or a situation that could indicate a scam.

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