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In Europe, against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, squatting is gaining momentum, unauthorized settlement in empty housing. There are especially many such cases in Spain, where Russians like to buy holiday property. The popularity of squatting in the region is due to the peculiarities of local legislation, the invaders can only be evicted through the courts, and in some cases, it justifies the seizure: it is believed that anyone has the right to housing.
In some European countries, for example in Spain, the law may side with the unauthorized occupant, and not the owner. Therefore, this problem is more acute there.
The Basque Country in northern Spain has rebelled against the passivity of the authorities, which do not protect the interests of homeowners, the newspaper El Mundo reported on Sunday, June 29. In the largest city in the region of Bilbao, as well as in Santuras, Portugal, local residents were forced to unite and expel migrant workers from the vacant houses they seized. Local politicians demand from the Spanish authorities to pass a law against the invaders of other people’s real estate.
Homeowners are the real victims of this situation and they demand that the occupier can be evicted within 24 hours, which is called ‘on call’.
Nataliya, a resident of the Spanish province of Almeria, told Gazeta.Ru about the aggravation of the problem; she owns several real estate properties on the Mediterranean coast of Spain:
The European Commission has eased quarantine, lifted restrictions on movement within European borders and allowed non-European migrants to enter the Schengen area. But when the owners of European real estate arrived to vacation in Mediterranean resorts, some of them were shocked, the housing left unattended for several months turned out to be occupied by vagrants and homeless.
‘They move into other people’s houses and apartments, often with whole families. Housing invaders are, as a rule, illegal migrants from African countries, from Brazilians and Moroccans to Roma,’ Nataliya said.
Buying a home in Spain is popular among Russians: their investments in Spanish real estate account for almost 10% of all foreign investments in this area, according to data from the Madrid Center for Sociological Research. The leaders in terms of investments in Spanish resorts are the British, Germans and citizens of Northern European countries.
Moreover, earlier Russians bought housing mainly for their own recreation, and in recent years the emphasis is on real estate for rent. Including citizens of the European Union, who live where there is work, and are often forced to rent housing. It follows those cases of illegal takeover will increase.
As Natalia explained, it can be very difficult to evict uninvited guests in accordance with the current law, sometimes it is simply impossible. You won’t even be able to drive them out with the help of the police. You can break into your own home by force, but this method can lead the owner himself to the police station. The police also do not have the right to enter the premises occupied by someone, even if the owner of the property presents all the necessary documents, he will not even be allowed to take his own things if the ‘guest’ does not give them at his will.
‘It gets ridiculous. The owner of the apartment calls the ‘Civil Guard’, the policemen come and call the apartment. Nobody opens them and sends them away. If there is silence outside the door, the police listen, and if they hear meow-meow, or wow-wow, outside the front door, it means that someone lives there and this is a sufficient reason not to enter. The unfortunate owner is sent to court, ‘Nataliya says, adding that there were many such stories after the 2008 crisis and now, during quarantine, there is again a surge of unauthorized settlements.
In Spain, especially on the coast, the owners of hundreds of thousands of apartments come on short visits, they keep them as a holiday residence. Many apartments are traditionally empty during the off-season. And in the conditions of quarantine and falling incomes, when there is not enough money for recreation, there are even more vacant real estate. Source
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