In 2018 there was a legal reform in the Civil Procedure Law that pursues the objective of regaining possession
by the owner in those cases of illegal occupation of properties, that is, situations in which the occupants of a house do not have any title that allow them to reside in said property, commonly called "squats" or “squatters”.
It should be remembered that, in the event of suffering an illegal occupation in a property owned by you, you will not be able to proceed unilaterally to try to enter the home, forcibly remove them, change the lock or even cancel the supplies, since in such case squatters could denounce you, for burglary or coercion. In case someone occupies the house unilaterally, you should always file a legal proceeding to evict them.
In order to speed up the eviction in certain cases, it is for this reason that the legal reform that we have discussed above was carried out, creating a quick judicial procedure that allows legitimate owners to regain possession of their property with greater promptness. However, it should be noted that not everyone with a property title is able to take advantage of this quick procedure.
Owners who can take advantage of the express eviction against squatters:
Only the following persons or entities may resort to this express judicial procedure:
• Natural person who is the owner or legitimate owner by any other title.
• Non-profit entities with the right to own the property in question.
• Public entities that own or possess legitimate social housing.
Therefore and as an example, legal persons (companies or capital societies) will not have access to this more agile procedure because they are not in that group, and said entities must resort to other legal channels to regain possession of the property in question, which are slower and must meet other requirements.
Express eviction for squatters, not for premises or land
It should also be borne in mind that this agile procedure can only be initiated when it is intended to regain possession of a property such as a home, and not of a local or land for example, as this is provided for in the article 250.1.4 of the Civil Procedure Law.
In this sense, the law indicates that through the formalities of the verbal trial: “the natural person who owns it may request the immediate recovery of full possession of a home or part of it, provided that they have been deprived of it without their consent. or legitimate owner by another title, the non-profit entities with the right to own it and the public entities that are owners or legitimate owners of social housing”.
Phases of the express judicial procedure to evict squatters:
Having established the above, anyone who is deprived of possession of a house/property of which he is legally the owner (and remember, that belongs to the individuals or entities aforementioned) must initiate legal proceedings, defended by a lawyer and represented by a solicitor/procurator, against the unknown occupants of the house, being an essential requirement to attach to the claim the title on which the actor bases his right to possess (deed of sale, deed of acceptance of inheritance, donation, etc.). In order to proceed with the identification of the occupants, article 441.1bis of the Civil Procedure Law establishes that whoever performs the act of communication of the demand may be accompanied by the agents of the authority in the event that their identification was not possibly known, as well as in the case of having the consent of the interested occupants, it could even be transferred to the public services competent in matters of social policy in case their action is necessary and so that within 7 days they can adopt the necessary protection measures that were relevant to these occupants.
So, once the demand has been notified to the occupants of the house, they will be given a period of 5 days to provide the title that justifies the possession they have been making of the property:
- If they do not provide the title that justifies their occupation, the Court will order by means of the corresponding resolution the immediate delivery of possession of the property to the plaintiff-owner, being no possibility of appealing said resolution, which will take effect against any of the occupants who are at that time in the house. Carrying all this a speed and agility that until now we did not have in this type of proceedings.
- On the contrary, if they provide it, the Judge will indicate the date of a Trial in order to assess whether that title that the “squatters” have contributed is valid or not and whether or not it justifies the occupation. It should be borne in mind that in this procedure the defendant-occupiers may only base their opposition on the existence of a sufficient title to possess the house (such as a rental contract) or on the lack of title on the part of the actor (assumed in that the plaintiff did not provide the claim with the documentation that duly proves that he is the owner of the property). If the title is not valid, the Judge will pass sentence condemning the squatters to an immediate eviction.
Duration of the process to evict the occupation:
The process to evict an occupier will vary depending on the locality and the volume of affairs of the Court in question. As a guide, it can last between 3 and 6 months approximately. Hence, it is important to indicate that the earlier it starts, the faster it can be practiced.
Do you have any further questions? Do you need one of our lawyers to guide you or assist you in a legal proceeding against some squatters? Contact our office to request a face-to-face visit at our offices in Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia or use our online legal consultation or videoconference services. We provide the service throughout Spain.