How to stop squatters in Spain if you own a Spanish holiday home.
Squatting in Spain rose by 2.7% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to data from the Secretary of State for Security. In total, 14,675 people reported that their home had been illegally occupied by squatters or "okupas" as they are known in Spain, something which could be partly due to holiday and second homes in Spain being left empty during the pandemic. What is surprising is that nearly half of these complaints (6,647) took place in properties in Catalonia, along with a high number of burglaries. Second, but a long way behind, is Andalusia with 2,372 complaints. For its part, the Community of Madrid reported 1,316 cases of squatting, making it increasingly important to know how to protect your home from squatters in Spain.
Squatters in Spanish holiday homes is something that is on the rise. The reality is that this is a problem that worries more and more people, especially those who have a second home on the Spanish coast. For this reason, Agencia Negociadora has compiled a list of 8 tips to avoid this illegal occupation of your property and how to stop squatters in Spain, featured in the Spanish newspaper El Economista:
Rent out the property
Agencia Negociadora recommends renting out the property if it is empty in order to avoid the risk of squatting. If you own a holiday home in Spain that is empty for a large part of the time, the company explains that the property owner will not significantly reduce the chances of being affected by squatting, but will also obtain an economic benefit from renting out the property.
Start the process of renting out the property
If you don't already rent out your empty holiday home in Spain, now could be the right moment to do so and it is highly recommended that you being the rental process as soon as possible in order to avoid illegal occupation in Spain. This option will give life to the house to a certain extent, because an estate agent will be continuously showing the property to potential tenants and therefore it will be more difficult for squatters to enter the property.
Install an alarm
If you have decided not to rent out the property for whatever reason, the best option to avoid scares is to install an alarm that is connected to the police. This tool will provide you with security because if the property is illegally occupied, the state security forces will be able to act immediately, alleging a break-in or burglary. This is especially important given that the first 48 hours are key when it comes to evicting squatters in Spain.
Install home automation systems
There are other effective tools to avoid squatting in your Spanish holiday home, apart from alarms. In this sense, Agencia Negociadora recommends using home automation or domotics while your home is empty. Installing a system that turns lights and the television on and off, or opens and closes blinds will give outsiders the sensation that someone is living in the house and therefore will not be an obvious target for squatters.
Water the plants
Giving the keys to the house to a family member or neighbour to do some household chores such as watering the plants will also help stop squatters in Spanish holiday homes.
Don't post on social media that you are going on holiday
In a world where social networks have gained prominence, Agencia Negociadora recommends not listing your holiday plans online. The less public information there is about your activity in relation to your home and location, the better. The reality is that if you inform the world through social networks where you are and how long you are there for, you are giving squatters a head start.
Do not put posters in the street
While it is a good idea to being the process to rent out your property, or even sell it, it is advisable not to put posters in the windows or terraces advertising the rental or sale of the property when it is empty. These posters are just another an invitation to illegally occupy the property.
Keep some personal belongings in the house
If there are all kinds of personal belongings and items for personal use and enjoyment in your Spanish holiday home, you will be much more protected against occupation compared to if the property is empty. This is because, if the property were to be entered by squatters, you could report them for trespassing and not a crime of usurpation of the home, as evicting squatters in Spain is a much more complicated process.