A new law against squatting comes into force today. The legislation, Ley 5/2018, modifies and updates the previous legislation of 2000, and will make it much easier for owners to recover their own properties after they are occupied unlawfully. In particular, owners will be able regain access to their properties immediately either for themselves or any legal tenants they might have had who were displaced by the squatters; the law does not distinguish between private homes and properties owned for rental purposes, the only relevant criterion is that the property is considered to be a domestic home for its owner or a legal tenant, and not a business premises.
To take legal action against squatters the law will simply require either proof of ownership or of a right to possess if not the owner (eg a valid rental contract). Action can be taken against persons known or unknown, so the identity of the squatters is not a legal prerequisite for Court proceedings to be initiated or for an eviction notice to be served. The Court will then issue an instant demand to the occupants to justify their presence. If they cannot provide proof within five days that they have a right to be in the property, the Court will order the immediate return of the property to the owner or tenant: the squatters will have a right of appeal but they will need to show the Court that they can demonstrate a right to occupy (or an owner/tenant’s lack of such right) before an appeal will be allowed.
Once eviction is ordered, and assuming no appeal is lodged by the squatters, action will be taken within one week to evict any illegal occupants who remain in the property and return it to owner or legal tenant.