ILLEGAL SQUATTERS

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25 Mar 2017 08:22 by technodec Star rating in Staffordshire &River.... 19 posts Send private message

I am the President of a community and we are suffering from an influx of illegal squatters.

The modus operandi is as follows.

They come during the night and drill out the locks and put in new locks and then on a Friday evening they move in with a false contract  provided by a  (Russian) agent who no doubt takes a fee.

The police and guardia civil do nothing as they say that they have a legal contract and no amount of explaining that the contract cannot be legal as it is not from the owner makes any difference and the legal owner nust make a denuncia to the guardia civil and then take legal action.

As this is done on a Friday evening it makes it very difficult to contact any one and so this is to their advantage.

They bypass the electricity and water and the utility companies when pushed come out and disconnect but a few hours later the sqatters have managed to restore them.

It would seem that we are powerless to stop this happening as the law is on their side and this is not a good thing for our community and apperently this is happening in other communities.

I fail to understand why the authorities do not go after these bogus agents as they are the criminals in this scenario.

I would welcome any suggestions from any one who can give helpfull advice on any measures we can put into action.





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25 Mar 2017 18:25 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

On the other thread titled "squatters" the Eos moderators identified the following

"

The question really is, are the tenants paying the rent and is the agent passing this money back to you?

If not then a new law that came in recently means that you can actually get non-paying tenants chucked out after 30 days (if I remember right).

The other thing to do is file a "denuncia" at the local police against the agent.  The police will then be obliged to follow it up.  If she is not legally registered to run a business then just the threat of a denuncia might make her change her tact with you."

So is this relevant here, and is the owner of the appt complicit with this practice by using the Russian agent and receiving rent in that process?

If not, do you have the right as Community President ( since this is anti-social and illegal behaviour) to insist that the owner ( or community with permission from the owner) take legal action to remove the squatters within the 30 day period?

Also is it deemed a criminal act to interfere with electricity and water supplies in this manner and if so what are the penalties? If there are effective financial penalties then this could cover the cost of court action to have the squatters removed perhaps, such that they are made financially responsible for their own eviction?

Could the agent and squatters be made jointly and severally responsible?

 


This message was last edited by ads on 25/03/2017.


This message was last edited by ads on 25/03/2017.



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25 Mar 2017 19:09 by GuyT Star rating. 469 posts Send private message

What is  this "Russian agent" stuff? Are you telling me there are "Russian agents" stupid enough to issue bogus tenancy agreements for properties that they have no connection with? What do they do next, sit around and wait for the Guardia Civil to come and arrest them?

The squatter writes his own bogus agreement and when asked where he got it will say he was given the tenancy by a "Russian agent" he met in a pub. He will say he paid cash upfront for rent. Might even have a receipt from "Russian agent". 

The authorities do not go after these bogus agents because they do not exist. The existence of the so-called "agreement" is just a stalling tactic.

Squatters have used this MO, worldwide,  for my entire life.





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25 Mar 2017 19:58 by technodec Star rating in Staffordshire &River.... 19 posts Send private message

Went to Guardi Civil today to make a denuncia and was told exactly that about the (Russian Agent) and so it is a bogus document so we have to take all the legal actions to get them out which could take some time.





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25 Mar 2017 20:46 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

Oh dear...A lifetime of ongoing crime GuyT?

Why does it take a lifetime to attain a law to protect or is this a more recent pattern of crime that's occurring?

Are the squatters ever made financially accountable to cover the costs of legal action, or is this deemed socialy acceptable if many of these properties are now distressed properties owned by the Banks?  

If that's the case then that's unfair on Presidents trying to run communities as best they can, representing those living "legally" and above board and its certainly not a good advert for Spanish real estate is it?

 





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26 Mar 2017 09:57 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5132 posts Send private message

I realise  this is unlikely to be appropriate in this case but just for info.

A Spanish friend of mine who has been letting for a number of years goes the  property when the offending  tenants are out, changes the lock, packs the cases and puts them outside, then he waits until they return and tells then to ‘go away’.    If they call the police he says no problem because the fine is very small and that way he has got rid of the offending tenants.  That has only happened a couple of times. 

My friend has a few convictions on his record so he is not worried about another one.





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26 Mar 2017 11:19 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

Goodness John,

I understand the practical solution you suggest....But why on earth should you have to take the law into your own hands when there should be a SWIFT AND SUPPORTED lawful method to evict, recognised by ALL those regulating and applying the system in Spain? It's in Spain's interest to get a grip on this, as the last thing Spain needs now is yet another instance of abusive practice laid at its door where the " innocents" have to continue to pay the price for lack of "timely justice".

 


This message was last edited by ads on 26/03/2017.



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26 Mar 2017 13:50 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5132 posts Send private message

Ads there should be a SWIFT AND SUPPORTED lawful method to evict

 

I am sure we all go along with that but what should one do in the meanwhile (when we are NOT holding our breath) waiting for such a law ?





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26 Mar 2017 20:44 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

I understand your practical concerns John. 

The UK criminalised squatting in 2012 and apparently since then "A newsletter from SQUASH published in May 2016 states that there have been "at least 738 arrests, 326 prosecutions, 260 convictions and 11 people imprisoned for the offence, based on available information since criminalisation."

So at the end of the day and in the interim much depends upon what priority is given to minimise and disincentivise this abuse in Spain, but so long as owners and renters remain at risk in this way the message sadly remains buyers and renters beware.

Do you think the authorities and utility companies are recognising the squatting problem or do they perceive this as low on their list of priorities? 

 





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27 Mar 2017 09:21 by baz1946 Star rating. 2111 posts Send private message

The UK has a strange way of showing they made a law concerning squatters, the relevant local council sends out, and expects one of the squatters to pay council tax on the house they break into.





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27 Mar 2017 10:12 by technodec Star rating in Staffordshire &River.... 19 posts Send private message

After going to make the denuncia it would appear that no amount of protesting about these people being illegal makes any difference to the authorities.

The contract is false ,the method of entering is known to the police and Guardia Civil but they are powerless to do anything as regards moving them out and it is the responsibility of the property owner to issue proceedings to take back possession.

I am sure that the lawyers are pleased with this method as it gives them another income.

It is about time that the authorities stepped upto the plate and came down on the side of the people that pay the taxes which in turn pay their salaries and stop this from happening.

This is a beutiful country but this is not a good advert for it.

ads posts are very true and outline the problem that is a blight on the Spanish authorities who seem to not care for the people that invest in the country.





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27 Mar 2017 10:37 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

Baz1946, 

Thanks for the update as I was unaware of that practice but I don't want this to be perceived as a competition as to who has the worst practice of managing this situation...

Do you suppose this might be a way of disincentivising them from thinking they can get something for nothing during the period prior to their eviction?

We all ought to be looking for the best practice to best manage and disincentivise  this problem.

 


This message was last edited by ads on 27/03/2017.



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27 Mar 2017 10:54 by baz1946 Star rating. 2111 posts Send private message

Yes, ads, I believe that in Spain, UK or anywhere else for that matter, if any squatters get into any property they should be thrown out straight away by the law, or any other means.

Why should these people be allowed to live in a property that someone else has had to work to pay for, I have seen the TV shows where the squatter has said they improved the place and stopped it from becoming a dump, lets not forget though they still didn't want to live legally, and pay like everyone else has to?

I honestly can't work out how someone can, in effect break into your house, and the law does nothing about it, Spain or UK, park your car in the wrong place and thats it, park your backside in the wrong place and your okay.

As for the UK council sending out council tax bills to squatters that beggers belief, like saying 'Yes it's against the law....But while your breaking the law can we have some money for you doing it'





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27 Mar 2017 11:06 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

This begs the question how to make the squattors financially accountable ( acting as disincentive) for their actions during the period they illegally inhabit the property, but not just accountable for tax for the community in question, but also accountable to owners for any damage and loss of rent that may occur. These actions should not be considered separately but in a rational and coordinated manner that doesn't penalise communities AND innocent owners.

The question also remains as to the potential risk to life associated with tampering with electricity and gas supplies.

P.S. Maybe also a far more complex problem to consider is how morally you identify those in genuine need, how you accommodate the homeless in society, how you examine the factors behind the growing problem of squatters, not only to make accountable those with malintent and disregard for people's property, but also those who prefer to turn a blind eye to uncomfortable realities and the need for more coordinated but fair solutions.

Some may even suggest that in part this is born from a disregard by Banks to demonstrate a greater social conscience when assessing repayment of debt in a fair and realistic manner, or Govt's ability to control the economic factors leading to mass unemployment.. 

Just a few thoughts to contemplate from a far wider perspective!

 


This message was last edited by ads on 27/03/2017.


This message was last edited by ads on 27/03/2017.


This message was last edited by ads on 27/03/2017.



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28 Mar 2017 14:36 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9209 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

Are those properties owned by Banks?

As a community, ask Banks to take an active play on this, as this affects the whole community. You can start judicial actions regarding this lack of care.

I would also report it to the Housing Authorities in your town and region for them to force the Banks to manage this in favour of people who needs the properties and will pay for them.

This link might be of your interest:

http://www.elperiodicomediterraneo.com/noticias/castellon/vivienda-obliga-bancos-ceder-ya-pisos-alquilar_1056837.html

 

 



_______________________

Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA

Lawyer

Director www.costaluzlawyers.es

El blog de Maria



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30 Mar 2017 09:20 by acer Star rating. 1307 posts Send private message

Baz, not sure if I misread yor comment, but the law relating to Sqatters in the UK changed a while ago - in essence they no longer have any rights as they did a few years ago.  I'm unsure of the process, but was told that these days the Police will assist in turfing them out if required.





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30 Mar 2017 09:59 by baz1946 Star rating. 2111 posts Send private message

Who pays council tax ?

Council tax is typically paid by the person who occupies the property. If you live alone, you’re the liable person to pay council tax. For properties occupied by more than one person, there is a hierarchical tree to figure out who needs to pay the council tax.

  1. A resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the property
  2. A resident tenant
  3. A resident who lives in the property and who is a licensee. This means that they are not a tenant, but have permission to stay there
  4. Any resident living in the property, for example, a squatter
  5. An owner of the property where no one is resident.

The person highest in the tree is liable to pay council tax, it there is more than one, they are jointly responsible.

This above acer is the latest laws, August 2016, I fully agree they have should have no rights and the law should drop on them straight away. Hope the laws have been changed since back then, for the owners.

As I said it defies belief that it should even be printed that squatters are liable to pay council tax, basically saying that it's okay to occupy a house illegally but you have to pay for it.

Of course as we know getting this money is a completely different matter.

A few years ago I and some friends assisted someone we knew who owned a house in Hackney to remove squatters, about 20 of them, they phoned the law who turned up pretty quick, quicker then any elderly person getting mugged would have done, anyway I was told by the cops that if I 'Harassed'  them any more, I would be arrested, if I broke into the house to change the locks I would be arrested, if I even entered the house I would be arrested, if I burped in front of them I would be arrested. 

 





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30 Mar 2017 11:40 by ads Star rating. 3897 posts Send private message

It's worth repeating here the realities and how to disincentivise this illegal practice so that it doesn't continue to harm law abiding communities..  

"This begs the question how to make the squattors financially accountable ( acting as disincentive) for their actions during the period they illegally inhabit the property, but not just accountable for tax for the community in question, but also accountable to owners for any damage and loss of rent that may occur. These actions should not be considered separately but in a rational and coordinated manner that doesn't penalise communities AND innocent owners.

The question also remains as to the potential risk to life associated with tampering with electricity and gas supplies."

But Maria is also correct to query if the properties are owned by the Banks and ensure they as owners act responsibly in this scenario and also to follow through on reporting this to the housing authorities so as to force the Banks to act "in favour of the people who need the properties and will pay for them".





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30 Mar 2017 15:49 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4444 posts Send private message

Roberto´s avatar

Interesting hierarchial law on council tax. It seems to me that if you own a vacant property, it's worthwhile having squatters, because they then become liable for council tax, letting the owner off the hook!

My brother-in-law had squatters a few years ago in an old property he owned. Being a roofer, he waited until they were out, then literally removed the entire roof. The squatters left pretty soon afterwards! laugh



_______________________

 

"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure"

Mark Twain

 

 

 




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30 Mar 2017 16:09 by acer Star rating. 1307 posts Send private message

As I mentioned the law has changed on "Squatters Rights" - thankfully they have been severely reduced...although they are still liable to pay Council Tax!  Ain't life a bitch.

See https://www.gov.uk/squatting-law/overview

Overview

Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there, or intends to live there. This is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’.

Squatting in residential buildings (like a house or flat) is illegal. It can lead to 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine or both.

Anyone who originally enters a property with the permission of the landlord is not a squatter, eg if you’re renting a property and fall behind with rent payments you’re not squatting if you continue to live there.

Although squatting in non-residential building or land isn’t in itself a crime, it’s a crime to damage the property.

It’s usually a crime not to leave land or property when you’re instructed to do so by:

  • the owner
  • the police
  • the council
  • a repossession order

     




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