One about SQUATTERS (or OKUPAS)
“Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use “Wikipedia
Last month a house owner in Sevilla threw out the squaters who had been living in his property for over a year. During that year the owner had tried to recover his property in the legal way, denouncing the squatters, and through court. Without success.
So he got tired and solved the matter in his own way. At a moment the squatter was not in the property he changed the door and stayed in the property…
The squatter denounced him… saying he illegally had recovered the house in a violent way (he probably had to break the locks at some point).
Fortunately the judge has not listened and the legal house owner can stay in his property.
This is just one story of many. There are hundreds of testimonies, and many really heartbreaking.
You are a house owner, and you have a house in Spain.
But you probably are not here the whole year around but your house is…
At this very moment in Spain there are appr. 80.000 houses occupied illegally by squatters. Considering that there are about 20.000.000 houses in Spain, this means that one in every 250 houses is occupied. This does not seem so much, but having in account that squatters mostly look for empty houses, the chance that your house is occupied while you are visiting your family in your home country is much higher.
The problem is that if you want to recover your house, unless you denounce in 48 hours after the house is occupied, is really complicated.
If you denounce within this period the police will just go there and throw them out. But if you wait longer you have to recur to court, and this will take much longer, months or even years, and high legal costs. And during this period you cannot use your own property.
Apart from that at that point the squatter can register himself in the town hall with your adress, and you will have to keep paying all utility bills, or else he can denounce you!
Last week we saw on the Spanish television images of an english couple, house ownerd in Javea. Their house was occupied, they found out too late, and the only way to recover their own house was to pay the squatters several thousand Euros…
What can we do to avoid this?
If a squatters occupies a house which is not considered a first residence of it’s owner first of all it is not considered a crime but an usurpation, if the house is considered a first residencia, it will be considered a break-in, and the squatters risk 6 months to 2 years prison punishment. So usually they will try to occupy just holiday houses or similar.
Also once they are in the place they will do whatever they can to “proof” that the house is their first residence, they will register in the town hall, and also I have heard of squatters ordering pizzas to be delivered in the property some days before they entered, as “proof” in case once they occupy the property and get caught, that they have been living there for more than 48 hours.
So it is important first of all to ensure that as soon as someone enters your property you know about this. The best way probably is to have a good alarm system.
And as soon as you know there are squatters in your property immediately denounce them. If this is done within 48 hours the police can throw them out without court order, if you wait more than that all will heva to go through court and can take months. If you find yourself in this situation all you can do is denounce and wait.
So we’d recommend to have an alarm system, if you need help you can contact us, we will help you with this.
“The individual who, without living in it, enters another’s dwelling or remains in it against the will of its inhabitant, shall be punished by imprisonment from six months to two years.”Penal Code: article 201
“Anyone who occupies, without due authorization, a property, dwelling or building that does not constitute a residence, or stays in them against the will of the owner, will be punished with a fine of three to six months”Penal Code: article 245.2