We highlight below some new measures brought in by Law 5/2018 in relation to the illegal occupation of dwellings.
Date the law becomes active
The 2ndof July 2018, twenty days after its publication in the «Boletín Oficial del Estado».
Aim of the regulation
The law aims to provide a flexible and effective mechanism to deal with the problem of illegal occupation of dwellings and the resulting eviction of the squatter by force.
Most relevant content
The reform amends the judicial procedure creating a new process to enable an owner immediately to recover an illegally occupied property (an occupancy neither agreed to nor accepted) and to return it to its rightful occupier, whether the owner listed in the Land Registry or someone else who has legal right to occupy the property but who has been dispossessed.
This law only protects property considered as a home, whether or not it is a habitual residence or second home: the law does not cover business premises.
Some notable features of the new measures:
– Legal action must be accompanied by the plaintiff’s evidence of the right to possess the property.
– Legal action can still be taken on a generic basis if the identity of the alleged unlawful possessor is unknown, regardless of who might be in the property when notice is served, and whoever carries out the notification will be able to be accompanied by agents of authority.
– With the legal action the plaintiff can request the immediate return of the possession of the dwelling.
The Court’s acceptance of the legal action will require the occupants to provide their justification for possession within five days. If they fail to provide sufficient proof, the court will order the immediate return of the property to the plaintiff as long as the plaintiff has provided proof of right of possession and assuming there is no appeal against the judgment, taking effect against any of the occupants who were in the property at the time of the ruling.
In the same resolution as that which ordered the return of the property to the plaintiff and the eviction of the occupants, the ruling will be communicated to the relevant social services, assuming prior consent by the interested parties, so that within a week protection measures can be adopted as may be appropriate.
– If the defendant(s) do(es) not contest the legal action within the legally stipulated timescale a judgment will be issued immediately.
– A defendant’s counterclaim can only be based on the existence of sufficient title to possess the property, or on the lack of title held by the plaintiff.
The sentence will be able to be carried out, at the request of the plaintiff, without the need for the twenty day expiry period allowed for in article 548 of the Civil Indictment Law (LEC).