Squatters’ rights vs owners’ right: a common clash in Spain

squatters rights in spain

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?

squatters 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

Contact us today for a free, no obligations chat or see our property rental archives on Costaluz Lawyers

6 thoughts on “Squatters’ rights vs owners’ right: a common clash in Spain”

  1. Hello , I have squatters in my apartment in an urbanisation they have been there 3 momths. Can security in the urbanisation block them from entering the complex? can they change electricity and can they order new services like Internet in the property.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hello,

      I’m sorry to hear about the squatters in your apartment. Dealing with squatters in Spain, especially in the context of an urbanisation, can be complex due to various legal and practical considerations. Here’s an overview of your questions:

      Blocking Entry by Security:

      The security personnel of an urbanisation generally cannot forcibly evict or block individuals from entering a property, as eviction falls under the purview of legal authorities. Taking such action might expose the urbanisation to legal risks.

      However, if there are clear rules in the urbanisation’s community standards or regulations that squatters or unauthorized occupants are violating, the community might be able to take some actions, but this should be approached cautiously and ideally with legal advice.

      Changing Electricity:

      Squatters sometimes try to legitimize their presence by transferring utilities like electricity into their names. While utility companies typically require formal documentation to change the name on an account, there have been instances where squatters successfully made such changes. It’s crucial to maintain regular contact with your utility providers to ensure no unauthorized changes are made.
      Ordering New Services:

      Just as with electricity, it’s possible, although not necessarily easy, for squatters to order new services like internet for the property. It’s recommended to monitor any new services or contracts tied to your property address and challenge any unauthorized changes.

      If you’re facing a situation with squatters, the most effective and legally safe approach is to:

      Consult with a Spanish attorney who specializes in property law. We can help you and advise on the best course of action, which might include a legal eviction process.
      Notify local police about the situation, even though they might not act immediately. Having a record of the problem can be beneficial in legal proceedings.
      Stay in close contact with your organisation’s administration and the utility service providers to monitor any unauthorized changes.
      Dealing with squatters can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it’s essential to approach the situation legally and methodically to protect your rights and property.

      Best wishes,

      Maria L. de Castro
      General Director
      Costaluz Lawyers

  2. Sorry my words, it’s totally stupid, that you can just walk into a house, and claim it’s you home. I mean if I buy a house, car, TV or even a coffee Brewer or as little as a cup of coffee it belongs to me, not somebody else. How on earth can Spanish law protect criminals?
    I simply don’t get it …
    I was considering to buy a house in Spain, but after I met a couple that now has lived in a small rented room for almost 3 years while some criminals has lived in their dream house. The worst part is, the house is totally destroyed they can see that from the street. Their garden is ripped to pieces by som giga dogs… Windows destroyed and so on..
    And.. it’s all legal ..
    They bought the house some 15 years ago, spend all their savings in the house, and finally they became pensioners and went to spain to live their last years in their little dream house, and when they arrived, their keys no longer worked, and help!?!? …
    noooo police and laws help the criminals . they have to go through the court system to proof their own property belongs to them. They have the official papers of the house, but it doesn’t matter, the criminals have a false home made of paper, that day they rented the house.

    I ain’t gonna buy no house in Spain that’s for sure…
    Jesus …I am shocked .

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Anders:

      I understand your frustrations and concerns. The situation you’ve described is related to a phenomenon known as “okupación” in Spain, where individuals unlawfully occupy a property. It’s important to clarify a few things:

      Legality: It is not legal to occupy someone else’s property unlawfully in Spain. The issue has arisen due to complexities and inefficiencies in the legal system that can sometimes make evicting such occupants a lengthy process.

      Police Intervention: In cases where the property is a person’s primary residence and they can prove it (e.g., with utility bills in their name, recent photos, etc.), the police can typically act more swiftly. However, if the property is a second residence or has been vacant for a long time, the eviction process may require a court order.

      Preventive Measures: If you’re considering buying property in Spain, there are various preventive measures you can take:

      Install a security system.
      Have someone regularly check on the property if you’re not there.
      Hire a property management company if the house will be vacant for extended periods.
      Legal Reforms: Given the increased media attention on this issue, there have been calls for legal reforms to speed up the eviction process and better protect property owners’ rights. Some changes have been made in recent years to streamline the process, but challenges persist.

      Buying Property in Spain: While the issue of unlawful occupation has received a lot of attention, it’s essential to remember that many people own property in Spain without encountering such problems. However, being informed and taking preventive measures is crucial.

      I empathize with the distressing situation you described, and it’s undoubtedly a grave concern for those affected. However, with the right knowledge and precautions, many property owners in Spain have positive experiences.

      Best regards

      María L. de Castro
      General Director
      Costaluz Lawyers

  3. Dear Maria,

    If i buy a property with squatters and i know about it, how difficult will it be for me as a new owner to get rid of the squatters?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Aivar:

      Evicting squatters from a property you’re aware of at purchase can be complex and time-consuming, often requiring legal action that varies by local jurisdiction. The process could take months to over a year and involves legal costs. Negotiation might offer a quicker, less costly solution

      We will be pleased to offer to you further help on this.

      Best regards

      María

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