YEAR 2018 N.º 3

ISSN 2182-9845

Landlords and squatters: neither victims nor executioners? Context and outline of the Spanish reform on eviction of illegal occupiers

Miriam Anderson


Squatters; eviction; civil procedure; criminal offence; housing; illegal occupation.


In the aftermath of the Spanish property crash, and to an extent as a side effect thereof, a large number of dwellings remain empty. On the other hand, there is a need for affordable housing that social programmes are unable to cover. This, together with the (timeless) occupation of properties for criminal purposes, and social, cultural or environmental squatting, has led to a huge variety in the type of squatters, including organised groups that take possession of dwellings with the aim of letting them to people in need. The procedures to evict squatters in force until July 2018 were considered insufficient and thus the Spanish Civil Procedure Law was amended to include fast-track eviction of squatters, but only when the claimant is a natural person, a non-profit organisation or a public administration. This paper argues that if distinctions need to be made, they ought to take place at the defendant’s end, and not at the claimant’s. The reform seems to stem from the idea that banks and other landowners and squatters are “evil”, whilst private owners, non-profit organisations and public administrations are by definition “good”. Manichean approaches such as these lead to biased and ineffective lawmaking.

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. The Spanish Housing Landscape Today
3. The Different Squatter Profiles
4. The Procedures in Place to Recover Possession
5. The 2018 Reform
6. Final Remarks
Case Law