Squatters are known as Okupas in Spain and the Canary Islands. In Gran Canaria they are a rare but complex problem. Understanding the Spanish laws that govern property owner's and squatter's rights is an important way of keeping your property safe and dealing with squatters. If someone occupies your property in Spain, they are guilty of one of two possible crimes.
- Allanamiento de morada (breaking and entering): if squatters occupy a property without permission that is habitable (furnished and connected to the services essential for habitation such as water and electricity), they are committing a crime known as “allanamiento de morada”. This is equivalent to breaking and entering and the police can often act immediately to remove them from the property. Moreover, it is a criminal offence punishable by 6 months to 2 years imprisonment, so it is quite infrequent.
- Usurpación de inmueble (squatting): if squatters occupy a property that is not habitable, they commit the lesser Spanish crime of “usurpación de inmueble” which is equivalent to squatting. In this case, the eviction process takes longer. This is why it is the most frequent case of squatting: the crime is lesser and the time they can stay in the property is longer.