Barcelona takes a harder line against squatter groups

barcelona squatters
A Barcelona municipal property and former police station now occupied by Squatters

The squatter-friendly attitude of the left-wing city council led by Mayoress Ada Colau was always going to lead to trouble, and now it looks like a change of direction might be on the cards.

Former squatter Ada Colau came to prominence as a housing activist fighting against mortgage foreclosures before she went into politics. From the beginning she has been on the side of squatters, including the anti-sistem groups of middle-class kids enjoying an alternative lifestyle at the expense of property owners and tax payers.

During her time in power, the problem of squatting has exploded in Barcelona, and her team have taken every opportunity to indulge and support squatters groups taking over private property, including municipal property. 

For example, a former police station (pictured above) in Barcelona’s Gracia district belonging to a municipal housing institution was occupied five years ago by squatters, known in Spain as okupas, who have been disturbing the neighbourhood ever since. 

Rather than take steps to have the squatters evicted, the authorities allowed them to stay on the condition of a peppercorn rent, and getting a municipal licence to operate as a youth organisation. According to press reports, Colau’s administration also renovated the property for the okupas, landing the taxpayers of Barcelona with a bill of almost €100,000. 

The squatters have never paid the rent, and couldn’t be bothered to get the licence, but they did make life hell for the neighbourhood for five years.

In the end, local outrage and pressure has forced the authorities to take steps to close the squat. 

“It’s been five wasted years,” says a neighbour, quoted in the local press. “Basically all they did was sell beer…and if the city government has finally told them to go it’s only because of our persistence. The worst of it hasn’t been the noise and parties and urinating in the streets. The worst has been the indifference of the town hall, who left us defenceless.”

The squatters are talking tough and issuing warnings, which means it will probably end in a forcible eviction in several months time.

It’s a similar story in other municipal buildings that Colau has allowed squatters to take over since she came to power. At first her people talked about “new modes of communal management,” for public buildings occupied by squatter groups, but in the end nobody takes any care of the buildings, they end up a public health hazard, and the squatters make life hell for the local residents, who vote and pay taxes. 

Barcelona City Hall under Ada Colau has always sided with anti-system squatter groups, which is an unsustainable policy, and helps explain why Barcelona is the squatter capital of Europe. Now it looks like the authorities are getting less tolerant of these groups, but a lot of damage has already been done.

Spanish Property Watch

Stay informed of an innovative new solution to help you keep an eye on your property, so you can take action if squatters try to make themselves at home. Due to be launched in early 2021, this solution uses the latest home-watch consumer technology in a ground-breaking way. Watch homes and other valuable assets like boats, anywhere in the world. And crucially, it's very affordable. Sign up up here to be kept informed, and be the first to know when this service is launched.

By submitting this form you agree to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use. You will be sent an opt-in email with data privacy (GDPR) information to confirm your interest.

Spanish Property Watch

Stay informed of an innovative new solution to help you keep an eye on your property, so you can take action if squatters try to make themselves at home. Due to be launched in early 2021, this solution uses the latest home-watch consumer technology in a ground-breaking way. Watch homes and other valuable assets like boats, anywhere in the world. And crucially, it's very affordable. Sign up up here to be kept informed, and be the first to know when this service is launched.

By submitting this form you agree to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use. You will be sent an opt-in email with data privacy (GDPR) information to confirm your interest.

SPI Member Comments (3)

Thoughts on “Barcelona takes a harder line against squatter groups

  • I wish they would take action on the squatters that have blighted the area on Los Cris seafront next to the Arona Gran.
    When the buildings first went up it gave the area a lift, with nice bars like Charlotte’s opening, then you get a bit further down to The Royal Marina, which is a fantastic restaurant , but sits right next to a no go area of buildings full of Squatters and dogs, it really does bring the whole of that area down.

Leave a Reply

Facebook Comments (3)