The illegal occupation of homes in our country is an everyday more common and problematic phenomenon. The reasons for this boom, which we will not go into here, could go through unemployment rates, the precariousness of wages, the price of housing or the perfect knowledge by many of these squatters of the letters of the Law and the slowness, in general, of the Courts and Tribunals.
When someone occupies our property, they may be depriving us of a very important part of our livelihood or our life, as we may have the income from renting that property for our day-to-day expenses, we may need to sell it for any reason, or we just want to use it whenever and however we want.
It could be argued that there are hundreds of properties in the hands of large companies and banks, which are empty, unused and therefore no one is harmed by its occupation. And it may be true, but it is also true that most homeowners in this Country are individuals who invest, both in a first and second home, as a form of generate savings. This is the kind of people most adversely affected by the phenomenon of occupation and by the slow pace of its legal settlement.
The truth is that some steps involving legal reforms have been taken to try to expedite eviction processes and thus the economic losses of the owners. The last modification occurred in recent times, over the year 2018, when certain developments were introduced in the regulation of the eviction process.
As a star provision of the ones then approved,it is now possible to request immediate eviction when filing the sue, without waiting for an eventual trial As long as we provide a title that justifies our right to the property (such as a deed of purchase or a rental agreement) and that the occupants do not present theirs (which they will not have) within 5 days, the eviction will be ordered without further delay.
But, what if we could not know who to address the sue because we could not know the identity of the occupiers?Or, we do eventually know, but we were afraid that there will be changes between them and come some different ones that have not been sued? This situation is also provided for by the rule, so that the sue can be sent to those “unknown occupants” and, if successful, the evicted will be those unknown occupants, whoever they may be.
At the end of the day, suing the “unknown occupants” was already being done in practice before the legal amendment and was thus admitted by almost all the courts. Now, however, exist an unequivocal legal backing.
Anyway and prior to the eviction, if any of those occupants was identified and gave their consent, the Court would notify the Social Services, in case it seemed appropriate that they provide a housing alternative to the occupation, for which you will have 7 working days.
It is important to set that this option could be used not only for the eviction of an entire house, but also for part of it. As if, for example, a room we rent in a shared apartment was usurped.
Likewise, also important to notice that this special and flexible eviction procedure cannot be used by anyone, only natural persons and non-profit entities or associations. Meaning that companies will have to continue to use the “slow” eviction, called eviction because of precariousness, since the law does not enable them to follow this path.
Finally, it should be noted that, however quick and agile the whole procedure may seem on paper,in practice everything will depend on the area in which we are located and the Court that is competent. And, unfortunately, in my opinion there are no Courts working fast and properly in our Country, either for lack of resources or for whatever reason. This means that in many cases it will take several months from the time we file the lawsuit until the eviction actually takes place, since it is not uncommon for many courts to take months just to get the lawsuit filed.
Our advice is to start the proceedings as soon as possible once this situation occurs, always with the helping hand of a lawyer that you trust in and armed with tons of patience. In general, we advise against negotiating with the occupants, as they frequently request amounts over three thousand euros to leave the house, which is higher price than the cost that an eviction procedure may have.