Squatting, or okupas in Spanish, is a controversial problem throughout Spain which has seen considerable increase in complaints in both holiday homes and in main residences.
The Ministry of the Interior reports that Squatting in Spain has grown since 2016 by almost 50% and between 2018 to 2019 it had increased by over 14,000 occupations. This year numbers are on the rise again as Covid-19 has been used by squatters to illegally enter and stay in properties that would otherwise be occupied more frequently.
What is the law regarding squatting in Spain?
Squatting is technically illegal but some people argue that Spanish law protects squatters more than home owners. The reason for this is simple, home owners have a limited amount of time to remove squatters and it can be considered a crime removing squatters from your property in Spain, depending on the circumstance. Therefore, removing squatters from your property can be a long and expensive process taking years to resolve. In that time the owner must continue to pay for the upkeep of the community fees and other expenses of maintaining the property, including electricity and water if minors are involved.
The Spanish law on squatting in private property has changed in recent years but the law states that squatters can be removed within 48 hours, unless they change the locks, which means in reality its very hard to remove someone with a basic understanding of the laws and loopholes that surround illegally occupying a property.
Protect your home
Here at Condado, we might feel we are safe because we have a 24 hour security team but it’s important to make owners aware of the squatting rules so we can take some precautions to prevent it ever being a problem.
Owners are recommended to have an alarm or camera system installed at their property to quickly identify when an illegal use of a property has taken place. In addition to this, owners should have a reputable key holder with a 24 hour emergency contact number who can be called to work with security and the police in the event of squatters entering your property.
Also its a good idea to have good relations with your neighbours and residents onsite who can keep a look out for any unusual activity around your home. Share your contact number with them and consider joining any social media or WhatsApp groups to stay in touch.
Change your locks
New owners are always advised to change the locks of their apartment, especially those buying bank repossessions. The original Polaris sales would come with 5 sets of keys being handed over but often new owners are given just one or two sets.
There are several locksmiths working locally who can help change the locks for you, check the directory for details.