"I used a private company and in two days the squatters had gone"

The state an apartment was left in after an eviction.
The state an apartment was left in after an eviction. / SUR
  • We talked to three property owners who have experienced a problem with squatters, to see how they resolved the situation

Ana (not her real name) received a phone call from a neighbour in Mijas Costa, where she has a holiday home. "I see you're here!" he said. No, Ana said. "Well, somebody is. There's a family in your apartment," was the answer.

Ana, who lives in Madrid, came to Mijas Costa to see what was going on. She spoke to the family, explaining that the apartment was hers and that they had to leave. They said they would - if she gave them 5,000 euros.

"I was furious. You feel totally helpless," she says now. She also had to pay for the electricity and water the squatters had used during the six months it took to get them out. "At least they didn't have children, though. I knew that if they did I couldn't have done anything."

After consulting a lawyer, Ana realised the eviction process would take a long time and she turned to a private company that deals with these situations. "It was amazing. In two days they had gone!" she says.

Manuel Jiménez Caro's situation was resolved differently. A young couple with a baby moved into an apartment his family owned in Malaga city during the lockdown. They said they had been told it was owned by a bank and they could rent it cheaply. They paid 1,500 euros for the keys. Manuel reported them to the police but didn't hold out much hope of success in evicting them. The locks had been changed, they had the keys and they also had a tiny baby, which complicates matters. However, he was in for a pleasant surprise.

"The police didn't give up," he says, and finally the couple agreed to go but asked for a day to remove their belongings from the property. They did so, and handed over the keys with good grace. "There was quite a bit of damage to the apartment," says Manuel, "but they said the people who had given them the keys must have done that because that's how it was when they moved in."

Another owner, Pedro, had a lucky escape. Advised by a neighbour that someone had tried to break in, he drove down to Malaga from Madrid and found the lock had been forced but nobody had entered. He installed a security door and an alarm, and says it has given him peace of mind. "I'm not surprised it happened," he says. "A lot of people have lost their jobs in this crisis and times are hard".