September 21, 2020

the 48 hour myth and the difference between trespassing and usurpation




With the end of the holidays, many people’s fear of meet his squatted home when he returns grows, although the procedures to evict the “tenants” are immediate as it is a crime of trespassing and not a usurpation, referring to an uninhabited property. This is the real squat, the one that can last for yearss. Next, we are going to clarify the terms on how to act in these situations, how long it may take to recover the home, what penalties it entails and why the judicial processes take so long.

What is squatting or usurpation and what is breaking and entering?

As already noted, the squatting is an increasingly topical social problem that affects, mainly, to empty houses, without any use, uninhabited. When it affects the home, be this the usual or the residence of the beach or the mountain we would be facing a breaking and entering.

Before, the fear of leaving on vacation it was that they entered the house to rob. Now to squat. But this phenomenon of the “summer squat” has nothing to do with the conventional modality, a whole ordeal of time and money for the owners until the eviction is completed.

In which cases is it a misdemeanor and in which cases does it entail jail?

The house, the home, is inviolable. If someone enters commits a crime of trespassing, punishable by up to two years in prison and four if it uses violence or intimidation.

If when returning from vacation, squatters are still inside I know would produce a flagrant crime. There is no need to panic here. The police can immediately enter without a warrant and take the house back. In case the Police doubt, they resort to the judicial route, just as quickly. They go to the guard court and request the launch of the squatters after verifying that the house is a home and not an empty property. All this scheme applies the same to the second residence, whether it is days, months or years what is lived there. Nothing to do with squatting is considered a minor offense as there is no urgency and it involves other judicial channels that we will address later.

How many complaints are there?

According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, to which Efe has had access, the “known facts” of illegal occupation (referring only to those denounced), have gone from 10,367 in 2015 to 14,621 in 2019. And in the first half of 2020 they go 7,540.

Is it true that you have to act before 48 hours?

The usurpation travels by another path than the raid. Despite being a flagrant crime, the Police – the myth of notifying in the first 48 hours is just that, a myth without legal basis, say the sources – do not usually act of their own accord for several reasons: there is no urgency, the owner does not live there and the “squatters” play games of distraction trying to create a semblance of legality.

How? With receipts, registrations, act in silence for a time so that neighbors do not suspect newcomers or deliver rental contracts, even real ones, with the intention that they “open the door” for them to later squat the property.

Why do the legal proceedings take so long?

After the complaint, the owner can ask the court for a release, but it is no longer so easy for reasons of proportionality, we have to wait for trial. The consequence is an exhausting journey of months or years.

To avoid this there is two options. As it is a minor offense, the quick judgment. But Justice collides with a problem. Squatters are identified and sentenced, although it happens that there are always unidentified people inside, what makes the process repeat and eternal, explain the sources. And then the sentence is appealable.

A second way with usurpation is the express evictions for the civil. It can be accomplished in weeks, but the judges recognize delays. “The courts are saturated and we can’t cope,” they say.

The security business and the mafias

It happens that the burglary is not as mediatic as the phenomenon of squatting and erroneously they are usually related. Security companies have benefited from this. The fear of squatters has relaunched the ccontracting alarm system. Just take a look on the Internet to see how “squat alarms” are offered.

They have also proliferated undocking companies. The sources consulted disagree with his performance. It is one thing for them to negotiate and another that they may resort to “intimidation tactics with burly men.” They further warn that «There is an express punishment for everyone who takes justice into his own hands.

But the squatting phenomenon is even broader, because the mafias have entered. The squatter delegates to them as real estate agents and pays money to change that they seek residence, as PP and Citizens have been denouncing.

What to do with squatting?

The matter has already crept onto the political agenda, even though it was not born yesterday. The PP blames the PSOE already We can present the squatters as the victims and defends his anti-squatting plan, given what he considers the “passivity” of the Government in the face of the «alarming increase» of cases. It also charges against the Generalitat, whose housing law has resorted to the TC in order not to turn “Catalonia into a squatter paradise.”

But his speech, as happened in the last Basque elections, warns about the “lack of protection” felt by those who have seen their home occupied after “going out for a walk or a weekend”, without distinguishing between a trespassing and a usurpation.

The parties and legal operators do not converge either in the reply. Social or punitive? An example is the proposal of the Barcelona Bar Association, which advocates reforming the law to get an eviction in 48 hours, but facilitating relocation according to the vulnerability of the occupants.

From one problem to another, because squatting hides another reality: people and families who do not have access to decent housing.

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