11:24 AM, 23rd November 2020, About 11 months ago 20
Recently I have been getting to know some landlords in Spain. I think it’s good for us to network with others – to support each other if nothing else.
The Spanish landlords have been explaining to me quite how bad it is for them now. They have a huge problem – an epidemic of squatting – divided into two categories:
Of course, we now face a comparable problem in the UK with the second category – now that the Government has handed control of our properties over to non-paying tenants for up to 2 years or more. JUSTICE FOR LANDLORDS! – Property118
One of these landlords, Pilar Damian, has given me permission to post here a letter which she tried to get into the British national newspapers. She warns the British against investing in a country which now seems to have abandoned any pretence of respecting the private property rights which underpin our Western democracies.
Warning to all English people with properties in Spain
Spain has become a squatters’ paradise due to the laxity of the relevant legislation. In just fifteen minutes, the time a squatter needs to change a lock, an owner can be left homeless for up to two years or more.
Did you know that in Spain, if squatters occupy your home:
– It makes no difference that you own the house or that it is your usual home.
– The owner loses all rights over it.
– You also lose all rights to your most personal possessions. Nothing inside the house can be recovered.
If the owner disturbs them or cuts off their supply of water or electricity, (the owner is obliged to keep paying for them), the squatters will report it and the owner will have to pay compensation. The owner will be taken to court with the corresponding legal costs but the squatters will have legal aid lawyers, so it will be free for them.
During the first week of occupation of my house, the squatters installed internet. As soon as they can provide one utility bill with the squatter’s name at the invaded address, the city hall is obliged by law to register them as residents. While the court procedures for eviction are taking place, the property is officially the home of the squatters, and they can get income support and public benefits.
Mafias are organising much of the squatting. When the mafia know that the day of eviction is coming, they’ll sell the key for €500 to €2,000 to another squatter, and the whole process begins again with a different accused person, so you can lose your house for years. They are no longer looking for abandoned houses. They look for houses in good condition with appliances and facilities, such as nearby schools or parking spaces. My squatters own two cars.
While the normal eviction process can take up to 2 years, a new legal procedure for “express” eviction now exists. It takes 3 or 4 months in normal times (much longer now with coronavirus) and is very costly to the owner. Despite being Spanish and knowing the language and institutions of the country I am still struggling to get my house back. I cannot imagine the hell that an English citizen would have to go through.
This is a growing problem in this country, causing much suffering to owners and disruption to neighbourhoods, but the government seems reluctant to act to prevent the abuses and extortions that this has generated.
I am a 62-year-old midwife, working in the health sector throughout the pandemic and my house is the only property that I own. This has been my experience and the experience of many families across the country.
No matter the economic or social status of the location, whether you own a flat, house or villa, this can happen to anyone in Spain during a weekend or a holiday. And it happens too often. It is important that UK citizens are alerted to this situation, especially at this time when travel to visit their properties has been disrupted.
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