In recent years we have heard a lot about squatting, especially by families or groups of people without resources.
Unfortunately, in these times, many landlords are unpleasantly surprised that their homes, whether first or second homes, have been squatted without their consent.
The express eviction law, which is currently in force, speeds up the process by which homeowners in Spain can recover their property in the event that squatters enter it.
This regulation has been created to protect both homeowners and public administrations with social housing, which in this way have the necessary legal backing to be able to claim the properties with squatters so that they can be used for their true purpose, which is to be able to give a roof over the heads of those who are in a situation of social exclusion. However, it does not include banks, which have many houses that are empty.
The different legal channels in the Spanish judicial system for reporting squatting are civil and criminal.
Who can be considered a squatter?
- The person who continues to live in a property despite having stopped paying rent or whose contract has ended.
- A person who enters a property at a time when its inhabitants are not there. This action is called breaking and entering. In breaking and entering (inhabited property), the police may act at any time and evict the illegal occupants, as this is considered a flagrant offence.
- The person who enters an uninhabited property for the purpose of inhabiting it. This action is called usurpation of property. In the case of usurpation of the property (uninhabited property), the relevant legal proceedings must be initiated for its eviction, regardless of the time that has elapsed.
Is there a 48-hour limit for vacating the property?
No. It is common to hear that the first 48 hours in the illegal occupation of a home are key to the eviction of the occupants, but the truth is that the legislation does not include any limit as such.
What should I do if my property is squatted?
- Report the situation to the police. The agents cannot evict squatters without a warrant, but they will help you with the procedure. If you are lucky, the occupants of the building will leave when they see you take legal action.
- Start the eviction action in court. When you file your claim, the authorities will check that you are the owner of the property and that the occupants are not entitled to it. Once these circumstances have been established, the time will come to launch the action.
As far as civil proceedings are concerned, the procedure that has always been used to evict all those who have occupied our house, or any other property, in an improper and unauthorised manner is that of eviction for precariousness, an eviction lawsuit that is filed against the occupants who have entered your house.
Fortunately, Law 5/2018 June of 11, better known as the “anti-occupation” law, states that we must file a lawsuit against all occupants.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the squatters will have 5 days to justify their legal stay in the house.
What are the requirements to start the eviction process against squatters?
In order to be able to obtain an eviction against the squatters and to initiate the procedure, a number of essential requirements must be met:
- Only those persons who are the legitimate owners or possessors of the property can apply for eviction.
- It can only be filed within one year of the squatters’ entry into the home.
In the decree of admission of the lawsuit, the court will ask the occupants of the property to provide, within a maximum period of five days from the notification, the title or document that justifies or accredits their possession situation.
In the event of not providing it, the court will order the immediate delivery of the home to the plaintiff by means of an order.
It is essential to go to a lawyer to initiate the corresponding procedures in an appropriate manner, as in the case of wanting to act on one’s own behalf we could find ourselves in a situation where the squatters are the ones who denounce us.
If you have squatted house or property, in these cases it is important to act quickly, which is why having a specialist lawyer is important.
Do you have any questions? Are you in this situation? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.