I am a foreign resident who does not live in Spain. My parents died some time ago and they owned a house in Spain but due to a number of personal problems, I have not been able to initiate the inheritance process in Spain, nor deal with the property.
Recently I have been informed by a neighbour that the property has been occupied by squatters who are causing damage to it and also bothering local residents.
Thank you in advance for your advice on how to deal with this situation.
Thank you for your enquiry.
First of all we must confirm that the problem that you have is unfortunately a very common one in Spain since there are many unoccupied properties and there are numerous illegal occupations.
This problem actually affects many expatriates because sometimes it is not possible for them to come to Spain or it is not easy for them to look after the property, nor resolve any problem from a distance.
It is also not unusual, should the deceased not have close relatives who are aware of their death, that the properties remain empty and are illegally occupied by squatters.
Secondly, we can advise you that law 5/2018 regarding illegal property occupation, has recently been approved, which we consider is a positive change for you and your case and in general for the majority of home owners affected by squatters.
This law has modified the current regulation with the intention of making the process of reclaiming the property here in Spain much easier if it has been illegally occupied without any form of title or right that allows this occupation.
The intention of the new regulations is that there will be a faster and more efficient court process for this type of procedure and the main changes in the law are;
- It is NOT now necessary to identify the occupants of the property by name and it will be possible to file the claim against the occupants of the dwelling without the need to identify them.
- It will be possible to request the immediate handing over of possession of the property in the claim.
- The occupants, (squatters), will have to provide the title: e.g. document, agreement, etc. that proves that they have the right to occupy the property and this must be done within five days and if they do not do so, then the court will order the handing over of the possession of the property
Thus, with these legal changes several problems that existed with the previous legislation are eliminated, the most important being;
The delay in the resolution of this type of legal proceeding will be reduced as with the new procedure the terms are shorter and in addition the rights of opposition by the squatter are limited since they can only oppose the claim by proving their right to the use and occupation of the property.
In addition, a very common previous problem is eliminated, which was that in a number of cases it was difficult to file a claim if the names or basic details of the occupants of the property were not known.
In the case that you mentioned, although we must study it more in detail, we can confirm that it will be necessary for you to prove your right as beneficiary of the estate of your parents.
If that can be established and the occupants are “squatters” (that is, they have no right to be in the property), legal actions may be initiated under this new law, requesting the immediate review and return of possession of the property.
If you or someone you know owns property that has been occupied by squatters illegally and without any title, and if you want to regain possession of your house, contact us and we will help you.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
White & Baos
Tel:+34 966 426 185
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