Spanish squatters target Brits' holiday homes
15th May 2023

Spanish squatters target Brits’ holiday homes: ‘Anarchist manifesto’ teaches gangs how to steal properties in the country where it typically takes 18 MONTHS to have them removed

  • Spain’s constitution says all Spaniards have right to decent, adequate housing
  • But this has created a legal loophole which makes it very hard to evict squatters
  • Now gangs are breaking into holiday homes and bringing in unwanted guests

Criminal gangs are invading Britons’ second homes in Spain and taking advantage of lax Spanish housing regulations that prevent squatters from being evicted to sell their possessions and charge ransom money.

A movement of squatters, known as ‘Los Okupas’, have long advocated for those who are struggling to find and pay for proper housing to move into unoccupied properties on a semi-permanent basis.

But opportunistic gangs have carved out a business model whereby they enter into unoccupied holiday homes, change the locks and effectively ‘sell’ the property to squatters.

With the new occupants able to remain in place for months or years at a time, the gangs collect money from the squatters while steadily selling off the real owner’s possessions. 

A veteran Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, who recently travelled to Ibiza with his wife and two young children to find squatters inhabiting their holiday home, described the issue as a ‘legal vacuum’ which sees people almost powerless to regain access to their own properties. 

People hold a banner that reads ‘no to squatters’, as they demonstrate against squatters living in the Bonanova neighbourhood of Barcelona, Spain May 11, 2023

Squatters celebrate from a barricaded property in Barcelona

Opportunistic gangs are taking advantage of lax Spanish housing laws by entering into unoccupied holiday homes, changing the locks and effectively selling the property to squatters

Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution states that ‘all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing’ – a sentiment that, while admirable, has caused a legal loophole that makes it extremely difficult for homeowners to remove squatters who have invaded their properties.

Under Spanish law, squatters who have occupied a home for more than 48 hours and are deemed to have no other adequate housing in which to live cannot be evicted without a court order. 

This process takes an average of 18 months, and can prove particularly costly with plaintiffs having to shell out for legal representation and bayliffs.

In the interim, the only way to remove the uninvited guests is to pay squatter removal firms, many of whom charge thousands of pounds to forcibly evict them. 

A recent investigation by iNews discovered that the gangs operating the scam have drawn up a 102-page manual, described as an ‘anarchist manifesto’, which offers Okupas advice on how to successfully invade someone’s home and legal tips for how to extend their stay as long as possible. 

British lawyer and head of the CPS Extradition Unit Marc Robinson is just one of several Brits embroiled in legal battles over squatters.

He is trying to recover the family’s holiday home after flying to Ibiza during the Easter holidays to find that the locks had been changed, Spanish outlet The Objective revealed.

The Robinsons flew to the Spanish island with their daughters on April 4 and found the lights were on and somebody was home at their property in the municipality of San Antonio.

The couple called police who spoke to a man inside said to have admitted he was squatting there with his wife and two children because he ‘didn’t have anywhere else to live’.

British lawyer and head of the CPS Extradition Unit Marc Robinson is just one of several Brits embroiled in legal battles over squatters

Marc’s property in Ibiza was invaded by squatters and he is now launching a legal battle to remove them

Mrs Robinson told The Objective: ‘It appears they’ve been selling our belongings. We’re certain an expensive bicycle we had in the house is not there any more.

‘When we finally gain access we’ll have to see if we end up accusing them of theft or criminal damage.’ 

A month on from their upsetting discovery, Mr Robinson’s wife Sophie in early May said their legal filing to have the squatters evicted had not even been admitted for processing.

‘The police report hasn’t reached the court yet and preliminary proceedings to evict them from our house still haven’t been opened,’ Mrs Robinson said.

‘The Civil Guard told us they couldn’t do anything because when they arrived, there was only a man, a woman and two children they couldn’t evict without a court order because they say they’re a family and don’t have anywhere else to live.

‘But we know there are more people in the house and it should be easy for the police to prove it.

‘We don’t understand how it’s possible that there’s a legal vacuum when it comes to squatters in Spain.’

Meanwhile, Londoner Michael Reagan told The Daily Express he found his Barcelona home invaded by squatters in 2021.

He hired a squatter removal agency to evict the unwanted inhabitants and was forced to shell out £1,750.

‘You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,’ Mr Reagan said. ‘The law is very ineffectual.’ 

Others have taken matters into their own hands, resorting to violence after having exhausted all legal options.

Last summer, a group of men were caught on video storming their house in the Spanish region of Murcia, threatening to beat the squatters their with iron bars if they did not leave.

Source: Read Full Article