Madrid Declares War On Okupas And Proposes Legal Changes

The Community of Madrid has declared war on okupas, attempting to reverse present trends and persuade the government to amend unfavourable rules for property owners.

The Madrid Community is prepared to wage a war on okupas, after this type of crime increased by 25% in the region in 2022. For the time being, the Regional Government has released an app that allows the Police to contact the owner if a neighbour reports an illegal entry and has also announced the opening of a dedicated “Okupas office.” Furthermore, Isabel Daz Ayuso’s team has openly encouraged the government to modify the rules to better protect the owner. 

The regional government proposes that unauthorised occupiers be evicted immediately if they do not provide title deeds or any other evidence proving that the owner has allowed them to remain in the property within 48 hours. Until now, the owners have had to demonstrate that they are the owners, and that they did not allow the okupas to use their property, which is a difficult condition because most of the time the title deeds are held in their own homes which they cannot access. For this reason, the Madrid government maintains that an okupas must demonstrate their right to live in the house within 48 hours.

This way, Madrid wants to “invert the principles” of the current organic law to pursue something that they describe as an “illicit act that harms individual property, something that is basic in a liberal democracy,”. 

It should be noted that the phenomenon of unlawful occupancy is becoming increasingly common in Spain. According to a recent Ministry of the Interior research, there were 13,389 registered cases in the first nine months of 2021, some 20% more than the whole previous year. When compared to five years ago, there has been a 40% increase in unlawful occupancies.

Once his home is taken, the owner suffers numerous losses. “In the best of instances, an occupied house takes between 3 and 6 months to be retrieved by its owner, leaving aside the mental problems that this situation usually causes.” To this, we must add the costs of attorneys, major repairs that the owner must handle after the eviction, and, in the best-case scenario, the payment of large sums to individuals responsible for the squatting if they want to regain their houses sooner,” says Jesus Duque, vice-president of Alfa Inmobiliaria.

For this reason, the Alfa Real Estate network has carried out an internal study that showed that the discount that owners are willing to make at the time of selling an occupied home and get rid of the problem, is about 30% of the sales price.

It is doubtful that the government will be obliged to act, but if the country’s political balance shifts, one of the first things we can expect is a change in the current law. The war on Okupas is still far from being on the agenda in Valencia, which now has one of the biggest number of illegal occupancies in Spain, but uncertainty that this situation causes, seriously affects the property market.

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