This month’s message from your Councillor contains additional information on the unpleasant issue of SQUATTERS. Residents can email CARM (Regional Government) on their anonymous reporting channel (email@example.com) giving the full address of the property occupied by squatters (street, number, urbanization, municipality).
CARM will inform the security forces (Policia Local, Guardia Civil) who will evaluate the case and respond as appropriate.
A Spanish standard reply from firstname.lastname@example.org may be received, which translates as follows:-
“We fully understand the difficult situation you experience every day as affected by a possible case of illegal home squatting; an illicit practice increasingly present in society, when the usurpation of property should never be an option.
It is everyone’s obligation to respond to this problem and, although it is not an easy task, you can be assured that the Government of the Region of Murcia is firmly determined to fight against illegal squatting of houses within the scope of its powers, to guarantee families can continue living in a climate of calm social coexistence and to prevent the right to private property from being undermined.
Upon your report of a possible case of squatting, we proceed to investigate the situation that is posed and will inform the relevant authorities for their corroboration and adopt whatever measures are necessary to identify the squatters and safeguard the integrity and security of the affected neighbours. Likewise, we will communicate the situation to the owner of the property to offer technical and legal advice on the procedure to follow for the recovery of the home.
If you are the owner of the squatted home, we recommend that you register a formal complaint with the security forces and bodies (Local Policia and/or Guardia Civil) identifying your home as either your usual primary or second residence and provide receipts for utility services supplied as supporting documents for basic services and a list of the presence of any personal items inside the property. If the ownership of the occupied property falls to the regional administration, we will immediately proceed to identify the illegal occupants and request their judicial eviction as soon as possible.
If it is confirmed that the squatters are in a situation of special vulnerability, we will inform the appropriate agencies that manage rental aid, as well as the local administration, to offer them a legal solution for relocation. Also, in this email we provide you with two documents prepared by the Regional Authority, hoping that their content may be of help to you in this terrible situation or to prevent future squats. On the one hand, the “Protocol for early detection of squatting in the Region of Murcia” and, on the other, the “Manual of good practices against squatting in homes in the Region of Murcia”.
We thank you in advance for bringing to our attention the possible situation of illegal home squatting that you are suffering, either as an owner or as affected by the usurpation of a property; a crime that we have to face together to solve this problem.”
Warmest Seasonal Wishes from your Councillor at email@example.com
Anti-Squatters – Councillor Silvana
Following a surge of reported squatters’ incursions, not only on Camposol but also in Mazarrón and the rest of the Murcia Region, the Murcia Regional Government (CARM) has published an anti-squatter manual. Here are some excerpts that may prove useful:-
House squatting fits into one of these two legal assumptions:
Forced entry (break-in) – occurs if the house is considered a dwelling, is secure and habitable and may have been inhabited at some time.
Usurpation (occupation) – occurs if the property is not considered a dwelling, it has not been completed or maintained (is not secured), or is not a place that is regularly inhabited.
Forced entry or break-in – carries higher level of legal protection and when it is clear that someone’s dwelling has been occupied, the eviction is carried out quickly and, if necessary, forcefully.
Usurpation – only a minor offence (not considered a crime) so the eviction procedure is very tedious and takes a long time; usually more than three years. A big problem occurs when a home is usurped or occupied and becomes the abode of the squatter. In such cases, the eviction is very complicated and there are situations that clearly go against the spirit of the legal system and democracy itself, violating the principle of private property enshrined in Article 33 of the (Spanish) Constitution.
Traditionally there have been three different types of people who carry out the squatting of homes:
Needy Families who encounter severe difficulties in accessing a home. They perform specific squats for the minimum time that they need to alleviate the situation of vulnerability. They usually settle in an empty home, a repossessed property, or in the vicinity of the same. (Social Services are being supplied with new channels to expedite rehousing in these cases)
Anti-Establishment Collectives are exponents of a type of commune life associated with radical ideology. Squatting in abandoned houses or peripheral areas, cause deterioration with graffiti and proclamations of a political nature and organise what they call ‘cultural activities’ which are a way of trying to spread their ideology. They are commonly associated with small-scale criminal activities: drug dealing, petty theft, theft of provisions, etc.
Mafias or Organised Gangs that operate outside the law but with deep knowledge of it, who squat in houses and even trade them. They are associated with public disorders of increasing intensity, more serious criminal activities, threats, intimidation, etc. They end up degrading entire neighbourhoods and causing social disorders that can become serious.
Currently, the vast majority of squatting cases that occur are of the third type.
Manual of Good Practices and Measures Against Squatters
1. AVOID THE FEELING OF EMPTY OR ABANDONED HOUSING.
An empty mailbox, blinds at half height and some plants on balconies or terraces will give the feeling that the home is inhabited, preventing it from being an easy target for squatters. Light and water timers are very low cost ways to generate the appearance of dynamism in the home.
2. DO NOT CANCEL YOUR ELECTRICITY AND WATER SERVICES.
If your home does not have electricity and water supplies connected, it will be more difficult and increase the cost of proving that it is your residence. It will be presumed that it is not a break-in and the squatting could be processed as usurpation which may lead to delays in regaining possession. Where possible open a contract with digital remote reading service of the electricity/water meters to detect possible illegal usage of the supply network in the home.
3. NOTIFY YOUR NEIGHBOURS OR COMMUNITY OF OWNERS.
Leave them a contact telephone number to be notified of any strange, suspicious or squatting activities. Action in the first 48 hours is very important. Neighbours’ testimony about the homeowner can be conclusive evidence in proving the residence status of the legitimate owner.
4. INSTALL SECURITY MEASURES.
Install or replace your front door with one of greater security and/or its lock to make it difficult to enter and deter squatters, who will be forced to use more complex tools and means, generating noise and nuisance that would alert the neighbours. In the case of homes with less use or far from inhabited nuclei, well maintained and painted doors and windows etc is advised.
5. CONTRACT HOME INSURANCE WITH SPECIFIC COVERAGE.
Take out insurance with specific coverage for squatting in case you have to rent accommodation because you are deprived of your home. Insurance will cover the extra expenses, as well as the damage that the squatters may cause.
6. CONTRACT AN ALARM WITH CAMERA (POSSIBLY CONNECTED TO CENTRAL MONITOR).
Having an alarm can deter squatters or warn neighbours of imminent squatting. If it has a camera and cloud storage you will have evidence to justify the search of your home and the use of force by the security forces.
7. RENT YOUR HOUSE.
If your home is unoccupied for long periods, renting it can be an option that deters squatting, ensuring its maintenance and suppling some income. It is recommended to use specialized agents to avoid problems derived from an incomplete contract resulting in bad tenants.
8. AVOID POSTING FOR SALE OR FOR RENT POSTERS.
Avoid placing posters on your balcony or terrace when selling or renting. Use online platforms as far as possible, indicating the approximate location of your home. Those interested in your home will contact you or the sales agency having to identify themselves in order to visit the property which will dissuade potential squatters.