Valencia City Hall claims squatter invasions are a miniscule problem for homeowners

The new Right to Housing Office set up by Valencia’s City Council. Pic credit Ajuntament de València

Listening to adverts on the radio you would think that private homeowners are at constant risk of having their homes taken over by squatters, but a new study from Valencia City Hall claims that just 1% of squatter invasions affect homeowners.

According to a study by the Right to Housing Office set up by Valencia City Hall to advise the community on housing issues, 86% of squatter invasions take place in properties owned by banks, companies, and investment funds, whilst just 1% affect private homeowners. 

This study will help to refute the ‘fake news’ about the squatter problem, claims the Valencia City councillor for housing Isabel Lozano. 

The report “takes down all the media manipulation according to which squatters are ruining people who offer a small flat for rent,” says Lozano, quoted in the Spanish press. 

The report also states that 20% of cases of ‘irregular occupiers’ often assumed to be squatters are not all cases of adverse possession as many of them are people living in a house they are disputing in an inheritance claim, or families awaiting eviction after falling into arrears.

Vested interests

The authorities, especially leftwing-run authorities sympathetic to squatters like Valencia City Hall, have an interest in downplaying the problem because they get the blame for it, whilst alarm companies have an interest in playing it up because the public anxiety helps them make sales.

Many owners whose properties are taken over by squatters never report it to the authorities, and turn to extrajudicial outfits to get the squatters out because the legal route can be so long and costly. As a result, data on the squatter problem in Spain is patchy. However, even the official figures suggest the problem is bigger than in other Western countries, as does the volume of squatter alarm advertising on radio and TV, and the large number of extra-judicial squatter eviction outfits. 

In the absence of reliable data, the impression I get from following the topic closely in the press, and talking to specialist lawyers and second-home owners who have been extorted by squatter mafias, is that the problem is far worse than the authorities admit, but not as bad the alarm advertisers make out.

Thoughts on “Valencia City Hall claims squatter invasions are a miniscule problem for homeowners

  • For what it’s worth, everyone I know in Valencia (where we lived until recently and still own a flat) that has issues with okupas says they’re in bank-owned flats or buildings, or in buildings that are slated for demolition/massive remodeling and just waiting (sometimes for years) for the owners to get it done.

    A good friend of mine manages a few dozen properties for investors, and he hasn’t had any okupas in his units for several years. Unfortunately a few of the buildings where his investor (or himself- he owns several on his own) owns a flat have had okupas in bank-owned units, but he generally is able to work out a deal with them where they don’t destroy or mess things up.

    When it’s not a mafia-scam thing (like in some of the vacation homes in urbanizations outside of the cities) for money, and it’s just people wanting a place to live, they’re usually fairly reasonable. Until you want them out, of course, in which case they’ll drag their feet as long as possible.

  • Mark Stücklin says:

    I guess there are regional differences. Here in Catalonia, where the squatting problem is the worst in Spain by a country mile (home to almost 50% of all declared cases in all Spain) I get the impression there are more hard-left political housing activists organising squatter invasions, and more mafia extortion rackets than in other areas. But there is no reliable data so who knows!

    I guess you are talking about Valencia city. Are there still bank-owned empty units in the city? I think they disappeared from Bcn years ago.

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