If your home has been occupied by squatters or “okupas” and you need a lawyer, this article will answer any initial questions you may have.
Certainly, in recent years, new laws have been introduced which are intended to expedite the necessary legal period for evicting squatters from properties, but this has not succeeded in practice.
The courts are overloaded with work and usually take several months ordering the eviction of squatters or okupas. Also, the new laws aim to help owners but not trading companies which can’t take advantage of the new benefits to speed up the eviction process.
In recent years, there has also been a surge in mafia occupying and opening up properties, illegally connecting them to a water and electricity supply, and selling the keys.
Sometimes, the squatter may also have begun their stay in a client’s house or flat with the consent of the owner. For example, it may be that the client has allowed a friend or partner to live in the empty property temporarily. In these cases, the “occupation” happens when the person allowed to live in the property is told to leave but refuses.
What do I do if I have a squatter or “okupa”?
You must act as soon as possible. Our property lawyers have met with clients who only come to us after months of waiting. Lots of people wait because they think the squatter may leave, resolving the issue.
This isn’t going to happen. Problems do not resolve themselves.
If the client doesn’t evict the squatter, they will remain in the house without paying for as long as possible.
What documents do I need for the eviction process in court?
Firstly, the owner’s lawyer should bring proof of property ownership (Public document, Property Registry receipt). If the client doesn’t have the document because it’s been lost, our anti-squatter lawyers will request a proof of property from the Property Registry in your name with no additional cost for the client.
It isn’t necessary for you to identify the squatters, our lawyers will do this for you and we’ll request the eviction action for everyone in the property.
After this, our lawyers will request that the court proceeds to evict the squatters.
What happens if they occupy my main residence?
In this case, it wouldn’t be squatting in the sense of a seizure of the property, but rather breaking and entering.
The home is where a person lives and develops their private life. Generally, a registration of residency proves ownership of the home but it may also be proven with other evidence.
In order to qualify as your home, it may be your main residence, but also other places, such as a holiday home, a caravan… One of our lawyers can analyse your case and tell you what type of case you fall under and if your property can be considered a home, which will allow for the eviction.
In the event that someone breaks into your home, immediately call the police as they can evict the trespasser without a court order. This is because the trespasser is not the owner of the home and so can be evicted immediately.
What happens if the squatter originally moved in legally?
As mentioned before, sometimes the occupation of the property is initially legal. It can occur when the owner allows the occupant to live in the property, but when it comes to the time for them to leave, they decide to stay, even when the owner tells them they must leave.
In these cases, there must also be a legal procedure for eviction.
Sometimes in these cases, eviction is usually quicker, as these squatters often have formal work and savings which can be seized, so they aren’t interested in going to court as losing would mean they are forced to pay legal costs (want to know more about legal costs? Click here). Therefore, this type of squatter usually leaves voluntarily with the first warning through burofax, before it goes to trial.
What do I do if they have just entered my property?
Our property lawyers recommend calling the police immediately so they can evict the trespassers, these people are not living in the property and the police should throw them out of your property.
Our lawyers always recommend calling the police and not proceeding with the eviction of the squatters personally or entering into discussions with them. Many squatters have occupied properties several times before and are even advised by squatter mafias, who are familiar with strategies for making themselves appear to be the victims. For example, squatters often accuse the property owners of aggression.
Will the police help me?
If the squatters have just entered the property or are discovered by the police while entering the house, the police will help you to evict the squatters.
If the squatters have already spent sufficient time in the property to be considered inhabitants, there will need to be a legal procedure to evict them.
Can there be a negotiation with the squatter so that they leave the property?
Yes, there can be a negotiation with them. Many squatters extort owners, occupying their houses and then asking for money to leave. Our lawyers understand that this behaviour is clearly illegal and
even more serious than the initial occupation of the property.
If you are negotiating with a squatter so they leave the property, we recommend that you use our lawyer’s advice. Our lawyers have worked for several clients who have negotiated with squatters without our legal advice and have ended up paying money and the squatters have not left the property. It is important to carry out a series of precautions during the negotiation, to avoid being defrauded and the re-occupation of the property.
What actions can I take against squatters?
You can bring a lawsuit against them at the civil courts, but also in the criminal courts, as breaking and entering is a crime.
Whether the criminal or civil route is more fitting depends on the specific case.
What happens if I hire an agency to evict the squatters using violence?
It’s a crime to evict people using violence. This is why we recommend calling the police if a squatter has just occupied your property.
If you don’t use violence yourself but hire other people to use violence on your behalf, you are legally responsible as you are considered an indirect perpetrator, which essentially involves hiring someone to commit a crime on your behalf.
Lawyers work under a deontological code and they know the law, and so are best prepared to help you with the issue of squatting.
Our property lawyers work in cities all over Spain. Contact us and we will help you.
Disclaimer: This information in this article is not definitive, for up to date legal advice which is relevant to your case please contact our lawyers.