Good News for Foreign Home Owners in Spain!

This past September the Spanish Secretary of State for Security published new guidelines to deal with cases relating to squatters and “okupas” (occupiers) in Spain, as these cases have become more common as the currently sanitary situation continues to plague Europe.

Under the old legislation there was a marked difference between primary residences and secondary or holiday homes – this has been changed which is why this is such good news for foreign citizens who own homes in Mallorca, Menorca & Ibiza.

Now the definition of “illegal occupation” of a property will be applied to a secondary or holiday home as long as it is classified as a private dwelling. This means that property must be lived in by its owners – even if there are only occasional or holiday visits. A property that is not classified as a private home is one which is never used by the owners or one that is available for rent but is not actually rented out.

When people with no legal right to entry or occupation to enter a private dwelling have squatted in a property, then the crime of illegal occupation is to be considered as committed in accordance with Article 202 of the Criminal Code. In these cases, after the “denuncia” (private criminal allegation) has been made, the police can enter the property without issue, detain the squatters and return the property to the legally recognised owners.

If the property is not a private dwelling of the owner’s, the crime of “usurpation” under Article 245 of the criminal code may still have been committed. The police must first identify the squatters. If the owners cannot immediately present evidence of their ownership and their own use of the property, even if only occasional occupation, then the squatters can seek to show that it is their own private dwelling. This presents a serious problem for the owners of the legal title as the only way to seek to recover the property is before the Courts as only a judge can then decide if there should be an eviction.

This makes it very important for owners to ensure that their legal deed to the property is available and can be provided quickly to the police together with evidence of their use of the property.



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