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Feb 16, 2021 Newsletter

Spain now protects squatters?! (partly)

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You probably read the title twice to see if you are awake. Yes, you are. Spain is now the only EU country that protects squatting due to a legal change from last week.

What is the new legal situation on squatting?

The Spanish government has made a change to the Royal Decree 37/2020, which paralyzed evictions during the state of alarm.

The protection for squatting on the suspension of evictions is extended, as it eliminates the possibility of suspending the suspension of the eviction even if it is the result of a crime.

This makes the squatter more protected and increases his options available to the judge to stop the eviction.

At first sight, it looks like the only urgent action a property owner can claim from a judge is “when the entry or stay in the property has taken place through intimidation or violence against persons”. Luckily, the owner is a bit more protected than that, but still.

 

Let’s have a look into the details of this Decree.

First of all, violent squats are very rare. Like, very, VERY rare. Normally, a squatter occupies a property when there is nobody home. Obviously.

 

Is this Decree permanent?

No, it isn’t. It applies for the duration of the state of alarm, that is, until the 9th of May. This, pending possible extensions of the state of alarm or of the decree itself.

What protection did squatters have until now?

Until 30 December squatting was not protected in Spain. The Decree of 29 December gave it legal coverage for the first time by introducing among the cases in which people who are inhabiting a property without any authorization to do so can benefit from the suspension of evictions. The measure was established for specific cases.

 

Do other countries stop squatting?

Spain is the only EU country to do so. Argentina introduced a similar regulation in March that has been extended.

 

Which evictions are paralyzed?

For the duration of the state of alarm (which is due to end on 9 May), evictions of vulnerable families and squatters who can prove their extreme security situation (victims of gender violence, dependents, or with dependent minors) are prohibited by law, provided they have the corresponding report from the social services. 

 

Which evictions go ahead?

The exceptions are

 

Who can benefit from the change?

People who are living in a property without any authorization to do so. Economically vulnerable people without a housing alternative. The measure is established for cases of dependency, when there are dependent minors or victims of gender violence, and if the owner of the property is a large landlord (with more than 10 properties).

 

Which property owners are affected?

The measure is aimed directly at properties owned by large landlords, with more than 10 properties. And it is aimed at properties owned by banks and funds that are not inhabited.

 

What effect is this measure likely to have on the housing market?

Jurists, experts and landlords’ associations warn of the effects of legalizing squatting on legal security, investment, and the market, and anticipated an avalanche of property claims. Now they warn that introducing modifications just three weeks later the lack of approval increases the legal uncertainty that is being generated around renting and will generate a call effect for squatting.

To be continued!

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