Squatting is too common in Spain. Every other day we see a property owner on the news speaking about the difficulty of removing illegal occupants from their home. It may come as a shock but the Spanish Constitution contains a fundamental right to the inviolability of the home and therefore, dealing with squatting needs judicial intervention. Justice cannot be taken into your own hands.
The frequency of squatting increased in Spain with the 2008 financial crisis and the fact that many developments were left unfinished and completely vacant for squatters to occupy.
However, the good news is that the process to evict squatters was sped up by a change to Spanish Law in 2018.
What is the new process for the express eviction of squatters in Spain?
The Civil Procedure Act regulates the eviction process. A new version of this Law was passed in 2018 with the express aim of allowing owners to evict squatters and recover their home in just a few months in what is called an express eviction. Prior to this reform, evictions would often take more than a year.
What am I allowed to do if I have squatters in my property in Spain?
It’s not hard to imagine the lengths that some property owners will go to in order to remove squatters. However, if you do not follow the correct route, you are in danger of encountering many legal problems ( i.e. being charged with coercion or trespassing).
Under Spanish Law, if your property is occupied by squatters it is forbidden to:
- Change the locks
- Threaten, intimidate or attack occupants
- Block access to the house while its occupants are away
So how should I act to evict squatters from my home?
1. Report the situation to the police. If the occupants arrived within the last 48 hours, the police can remove them. After this period of time, however, you cannot expect the police to evict the squatters without judicial permission. Sometimes squatters leave the property on their own accord when a report is filed.
2. Initiate the civil action for eviction in court. You will need to prove to a Judge that (1) you are the owner of the home and (2) that those occupying it are not on the property title. Once this is verified, the Judge will rule on the eviction.
What is the judicial process for the express eviction of squatters in Spain?
- Demonstrate that you are the owner of the property.
- The squatters are notified of the lawsuit and are given 5 days to prove that they are legal occupants.
- After this, an definitive decision is made, though it could take up to a month from the moment the lawsuit was filed.
- When the eviction day arrives, if the squatters have not already left, the police will remove them from the house. From this moment you can change the locks and take the security measures you deem necessary.
Am I entitled to compensation from the squatters?
When squatters have neglected or mistreated the property, you can ask for compensation. This claim is also substantiated by civil law.
How long does it take for the eviction of squatters to take effect?
On average, from 3 to 6 months