Squatters in Spain Seized My Apartment

Any discussion about purchasing property in Spain inevitably leads to the problem of squatters: “Here’s a person who bought an apartment in Spain and barely had time to live in it before squatters rushed in, and there’s no controlling them. Everything’s lost. How unfortunate are those real estate owners in Spain by the sea, and in Europe in general, what a nightmare!”

Squatters in Spain Seized My Apartment

Now, let's distinguish between what’s true and what has been fabricated by Facebook community admins. Also, we'll look into: what kinds of properties do squatters prefer (yes, they have preferences)? How often do squatters in Spain seize apartments? And, is it possible to insure against squatters, or is it better not to buy property in Spain at all?

So, SQUATTERS - individuals who illegally enter your home while you're away, change the locks, put their family photos on your dresser to make it look as if they live there, and when you return and call the police, they tell the police that you rented them your apartment just yesterday, here's the contract, but now you’ve changed your mind and want to illegally evict them from their own apartment.

Indeed, such cases have happened and could be left at that, but let's delve deeper.

Firstly, such specific cases are very rare. Mostly, squatters occupy bank-owned properties, i.e., properties repossessed by banks for mortgage non-payment, because bank employees are indifferent to such cases, and their salaries are not affected. There are even stories of bank employees who “leak” addresses of such properties.

Squatters also favor abandoned homes, where it’s obvious the owners haven’t visited for years or are no longer alive. This is probably an ideal scenario for squatters. If the owner doesn’t report to the police, living in such a property can continue for a long time until it’s repossessed due to non-payment of utilities.

Squatters in Spain Seized My ApartmentSecondly, such stories often involve a confusion of concepts, where the owner indeed rented out the apartment, received rent for some time, then changed their mind, but the tenant doesn’t want to leave. Then, under Spanish law, in the case of long-term rental (let’s repeat ‘long-term’ twice 😉), according to the “Law on Renting” (La Ley 29/1994, de 24 de noviembre, de Arrendamientos Urbanos, last amended in 2019), the contract is mandatorily extended for a minimum of 5 years. This means that you cannot just evict someone at the owner's whim; valid reasons are needed, such as wanting to sell the property in Spain or use it for permanent living. If we consider such a situation, it has nothing to do with squatters. By the way, similar laws protecting tenants exist not only in Spain but also in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy.

Thirdly, who said that in such a dispute between an owner and a tenant, the owner is always right, and the tenant is a cunning deceiver? Perhaps the owner, or someone posing as the owner, rented out the apartment, received a year's advance payment (which, by the way, is also illegal 👮‍♀️), and now decided to repeat the scheme. Why not?

Squatters in Spain Seized My ApartmentFourthly, the topic of squatters is very popular on social networks, especially on Facebook. Some admins, who write sensational headlines, are not averse to adding fuel to the fire. There are many comments, and there is always someone who knows someone who was in such a situation, or not quite, but it’s still a nightmare.

Turns out, if you delve into it, the chances of your apartment being occupied by squatters are about the same as the chance of a brick falling on your head.

But to ignore such stories, pretending that this never happens at all, is also wrong.

So, what to do? If we were to give advice, we always remind our buyers after the transaction that:

  1. Change the locks. We think it's obvious why this is necessary.
  2. Install an alarm system with video surveillance and a police call function; 50-60 euros per month – the price of your peace of mind. Next time, when you see a video or article about SQUATTERS in Spain, you can skip it.

If a brick does fall on your head, what should you do:

  1. Call a lawyer specializing in these matters. Right away, we say that this is not the person who files your taxes, you need a lawyer, do not confuse with an assessor.
  2. If you don’t have a lawyer, immediately contact the police. Such cases under the 2018 law must be considered within three days.

Squatters in Spain Seized My Apartment

What are the ways to evict:

  1. The police evict the offenders.
  2. Special companies - "Desokupa" can help, mainly providing psychological pressure on the impudent.
  3. Through a lawyer, you can offer squatters money for leaving your property, but keep in mind, the very act of transferring money can be interpreted against you in court.
  4. Under no circumstances, after you have filed a report with the police, should you go yourself and try to negotiate with the squatters, let alone break into your own home. Squatters may claim that you are threatening them, and you will have to answer to the law. This significantly complicates the resolution of the issue.

Let's repeat, a simple solution like an alarm will completely solve this problem. Especially if you do not live in Spain permanently. Even the presence of a sign that the object is under protection has a magical effect.

We remind you that Granfield Estate real estate agency offers concierge services, and can also help rent out your property in Torrevieja for tourist or seasonal rental.