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SQUAT THRUST Property Occupations On The Rise

Wednesday October 25, 2017

SQUAT THRUST Property Occupations On The Rise

Squatters are every homeowners worst nightmare - but enforced property occupations are on the rise on the island, according to local authorities. As squatters start to find their own solution to a lack of affordable accommodation here on Lanzarote.

According to local authorities squatting is on the rise on Lanzarote - evidenced by the enforced occupation of properties in both Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. The squatters M.O is simple, they spot a vacant property, break in and change the locks. And once they´re in situ there is little the owners can do about it - thanks to Spanish property laws. Cut off the electricity? Turn off the water supply? Best not do either - as if you do you would technically be breaking the law.

Indeed aside from a very lengthy eviction process, which can take many years, the only effective recourse appears to be waiting for the squatters to go out before breaking into your own property and changing the locks again.

The problem is now of a sufficient scale to warrant a special meeting convened last week by the Mayor of Teguise - who expressed enormous concern at the impact this trend is having on property owners, their neighbours and the overall image of the island as a tourist destination, after a number of unoccupied apartments within the resort were squatted recently. Whilst in Playa Blanca in just one case we are aware of a villa owner was forced to withdraw their property from the rental market after squatters moved in next door. 

Spanish law currently provides little to no protection for property owners in the event of this sort of trespass and occupation, unless the owner can prove that the initial break in was forced - for example by capturing the act on CCTV or picture grabs from an alarm system. Low wages, unemployment, enforced evictions after the crash in 2008 and a dearth of long term rental properties at affordable rates are amongst the contributory factors to what the Mayor described as a growing social scourge.

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