Squatters update – Spanish government streamlines eviction procedure
There may be a housing shortage in some parts of Spain, but the illegal occupation of properties by so-called okupas – squatters who move into empty homes – has become a serious problem in cities and towns alike. So much so that it’s become a political issue fervently debated in parliament, with property owners demanding that greater protection be afforded to them and the far-left Podemos party, which forms part of the ruling coalition government, resisting any effective eviction measures.
So far, that is, as the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska has just announced the streamlining of the eviction process. Until now, it would take a minimum of 48 hours before the police could become involved in the eviction of illegal occupants. This, in practice, usually gave the occupiers enough time to become entrenched, but in doing away with the 48-hour requirement the authorities will be able to react much faster and more effectively.
This said, the government is stressing that police will only be involved in evictions in cases where the occupation is recent, and where it is a clear breach of ownership rights. In eliminating the lengthy legal procedures needed to get to this point, the government is recognising the gravity of a problem that has been growing steadily in recent years. In addition, the new protocol also includes enhanced powers to investigate the so-called Okupa mafias and to punish the stealing of electricity and other utilities.
However, there may also be more ambiguous cases that fall outside the area of immediate eviction, and this applies where the trespassers are considered to be particularly vulnerable from an economic or social point of view, such as when children are with them. In these cases the process reverts to a more lengthy legal process, in which the social services become involved too.
In spite of this, however, the new directive marks a very important step in the right direction for property owners in Spain, and signals a significant change in direction that will hopefully see the tide turn in their favour.
By Adam Neale | Property News | September 28th, 2020