A British family has just had to cancel their summer holiday in Spain after squatters took over their villa in Javea on the Costa Blanca. With the Covid-19 crisis hitting the economy, and the hard-left in power, squatting is a problem that second-home owners need to bear in mind.
The Spanish press reports that a British family with a nice big 12-bedroom villa (pictured) in the upmarket beach resort of Javea (Alicante), on the north Costa Blanca, has just had to cancel their summer holiday in Spain as their villa has been occupied by squatters, known locally as okupas.
The family were due to arrive this Saturday to stay in their villa, which they purchased four years ago, but the takeover of their property by squatters means they have had to cancel their flights and stay at home in the UK, no doubt now struggling to understand how they get their property back.
Evelin, the lady employed to look after the property, discovered the squatters last week, when she arrived at the villa to find the locks broken, and washing hanging out to dry. Inside were a couple making themselves at home.
When she took photos of them they called the police and reported her for threatening behaviour. According to the press, police turned up and warned Evelin that the squatters have every right to stay in the property until they are removed by court order, which could take months or years. The fact is that squatters in Spain are indulged by the law, which seems to take more care of them than owners.
Second-home squat in Spain
This case shows that owners of second-homes in Spain need to keep the risk of squatters in mind, and take measures to minimise the risk.
Some friends of mine with a second-home in the countryside of the Empordà, inland from the Costa Brava, recently found their property occupied by squatters, and I know of a flat in Barcelona’s Raval that is also now a squat, so I get the feeling the problem is on the rise.
The economic crisis bearing down on us with Covid-19 is bound to increase the number of people who turn to squatting as a last resort, though much, if not most, of squatting in Spain is said to be organised by mafias and gangs.
Squatters also now have friends in high places. Ada Colau, the Mayoress of Barcelona, is a former squatter activist, and the hard-left Vice President of Spain, Pablo Iglesias has made a big show of sitting down with squatter activist groups to discuss housing policy. Though the Spanish right recently proposed changing the law to clamp down on squatters, as things stand they are treated softly by Spanish law, and that’s unlikely to change whilst the hard-left are in power.
It’s not just second-home owners who need to worry about the risk of squatters. Every year, after the summer, the Spanish press reports sad cases of people who get home from holiday only to find the locks changed and squatters in residence. They are then left homeless whilst they struggle with the time, costs, and anxiety of getting their home back, which can take months.
So, it’s worth taking the risk of squatters in Spain seriously. There are several things you can do to mitigate the risk of seeing your Spanish home taken over by squatters, like install an alarm. I’ll investigate all the options, and report back over the summer. In the meantime, read this excellent article by legal expert Raymundo Larrain Nesbitt how to evict a squatter (okupa) in Spain.