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Measures Against the Illegal Occupation of Housing in Spain

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Measures Against the Illegal Occupation of Housing in Spain


Medidas ante el fenómeno de la ocupación ilegal de viviendas en España
Measures Against the Illegal Occupation of Housing in Spain

Introduction to the Legal Context of Illegal Housing Occupation

Illegal housing occupation in Spain is a complex phenomenon that has gained prominence in public and legal debate. This article focuses on the legal aspects of occupation, exploring key terminologies and concepts defining this phenomenon.

Terminology and Key Concepts


Definition: Refers to individuals occupying a property without the owner’s consent, either peacefully or by force.

Legal Aspects: Unauthorized occupation can constitute a crime of usurpation under the Spanish Penal Code.


Definition: The act of taking possession of a property without right, distinguished from trespassing by its permanence.

Legal Framework: Usurpation is classified in the Penal Code and can lead to criminal sanctions.


Definition: Involves accessing or staying in another’s home without consent.

Legal Considerations: This crime is more severe if it involves the person’s habitual residence.

Eviction for Illegal Occupation

Definition: Legal process to recover possession of illegally occupied property.

Procedure: Requires a court order and law enforcement intervention.

Horizontal Property and Community of Owners

Definition: Refers to property divided into several floors or independent premises. These communities may face specific challenges with illegal occupation.

Legal Aspects: The Horizontal Property Law establishes rules for coexistence and administration.

Right to Housing

Definition: Fundamental right recognized in the Spanish Constitution, potentially conflicting with occupation situations.

Legal Implications: Balancing private property rights with the right to decent housing is central in legal and social debates.

Legal Framework and Judicial Procedures in Housing Occupation

Spain’s legal framework regarding housing occupation is primarily articulated through the Penal Code and the Civil Procedure Law, defining procedures and sanctions for usurpation and trespassing.

Penal Code and Usurpation

Relevant Articles: The Penal Code, in articles 245 and subsequent, classifies usurpation as a crime. This refers to unauthorized property occupation and can result in fines or imprisonment, depending on circumstances.

Penal Procedure: Upon complaint, a penal procedure initiates, potentially leading to a quick trial, especially in flagrant crime cases.

Civil Procedure Law and Eviction Process

Eviction Process: The Civil Procedure Law regulates the eviction process for illegal occupation. It allows property recovery through a court order.

Streamlining Procedures: Reforms have been introduced to expedite these procedures, allowing faster evictions in some cases.

Property Protection and Human Rights

Legal Balance: The legal system aims to balance private property protection with occupants’ human rights, particularly in socially vulnerable situations.

Ethical Considerations: Courts must consider individual circumstances, including occupants’ potential vulnerability, before issuing an eviction order.

Challenges and Perspectives in Illegal Housing Occupation

Spain’s housing occupation phenomenon presents various legal and social challenges, requiring a balanced, multifaceted approach.

Legal Challenges

Slowness of Procedures: A major challenge is the judicial procedures’ slowness, often resulting in prolonged illegal occupations.

Execution Difficulties: Enforcing eviction orders can be complicated, especially with resistance or social vulnerability.

Reform Perspectives

Legislative Reforms: Debate exists over reforming legislation to more effectively address illegal occupation, balancing owners’ and occupants’ rights.

Comprehensive Approach: An integral approach, including housing policies and social measures, is suggested to prevent illegal occupation, especially among vulnerable groups.

Balancing Rights and Obligations

Housing Right vs. Property Right: Balancing the right to decent housing with private property rights remains central in legal and social debates.

Preventive Measures: Strengthening preventive measures, like support for socially at-risk individuals, is proposed to reduce illegal occupation necessity.


There are several procedural alternatives for recovering possession of illegally occupied housing in civil and penal jurisdiction. One can go to police stations and file a complaint for a flagrant crime, even though the occupant develops their privacy in the occupied property, as the right to inviolability of domicile takes a backseat in the face of a flagrant crime.

But the reality reveals that, although the law allows it, occupants are almost never expelled even if the flagrancy of the crime is established. One can file an eviction lawsuit, which again reality shows, that recovering the property is long and tedious.

The state regulation leaves in the hands of the autonomous communities the development and effective application of the already approved Housing Law, but lacks regulation on mediation, on procedures to inform about the occupant’s vulnerability, even the bodies that must issue vulnerability reports have not been created.

All this leads to today’s scenario of confusion and calls for urgent regulation to make effective and efficient the protection of property rights and face the phenomenon of illegal occupation of housing in our country.

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