Catalan Parliament approves that local councils can evict squatters

Story by redaction • Yesterday 11:01 AM


Catalan Parliament approves that local councils can evict squatters© Provided by idealista

The Catalan Parliament’s plenary session has approved a bill promoted by Junts per Catalunya that allows local councils to order the eviction from illegally occupied homes in cases where the owners are large landlords (who own 10 or more flats) and do not initiate eviction through the courts. This new regulation received approval from real estate companies in Catalonia, although they regret that the approved text has reduced homeowner associations’ room for manoeuvre.

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The new law, which was urgently addressed in a single reading, was supported by PSE, ERC, Junts and Ciudadanos, with CUP and Comuns voting against, and Vox and PP abstaining.

The text initially envisaged that residents’ associations would also be able to initiate the procedure to evict squatters from properties where there were problems of “disruption to peaceful coexistence”, but the law will not include such in the end. This is a fact that the Official Catalan Estate Agent Association (API) regrets. However, real estate agencies applaud the approval and speed with which the law was passed, as it gives public administrations the tools to act against illegally occupied homes in those cases where peaceful coexistence is disrupted in the neighbourhood.

Carles Sala, spokesperson and legal representative of the Catalan API, said, “There has been a lack of courage to give homeowners’ associations the confidence to take direct action in the courts”.

As the organisation reminds us, real estate professional collectives (COAPI of Barcelona-AIC) promote and ensure that owners uphold the social function of housing so that it is used for the purpose for which it was intended and to prevent irregular uses that end up having negative repercussions on the quality of the welfare state. “Often, certain large landlords ignore these illegal squats because their owning the property is circumstantial,” says the expert.

With this law, local councils can initiate legal action to evict squatters. According to the Generalitat, large landlords and banks do not often take any action in the courts, which has made it difficult for police forces to take action.

With the modification, local councils will be able to start proceedings. The property owners will be warned and will have one month to respond to the request. If they ignore the requirements, they will be fined between €9,000 and €90,000, will have to pay the eviction costs and could lose the property, which would be handed over to the competent authority in the area to be used for social purposes.

Catalonia has 42% of Spain’s squats

Catalonia is the Spanish region with the highest number of squats, with just over 42% of all squats in the country. In the first half of 2022, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior, there were 4,341 squats, 6.42% less than the previous year.

Catalonia is not only the current leader in the number of squatting cases but also where phenomena emerge that are reproduced in different parts of Spain. One of them is the so-called ‘pizza technique’: squatters are given a ticket before entering a property to justify they are residing in it, preventing immediate eviction by the State Security Forces. This tactic has been used in Catalonia since 2018 and has been employed in other parts of the country in recent years. 

Catalonia has also been the scene of a legal investigation that revealed that the mafias specialising in squats pocket thousands of euros thanks to the agreements they reach with large landlords, such as banks or investment funds, to vacate the properties in exchange for financial compensation.

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