How to avoid squatting in Spain

Ilegal squatting is one of the main concerns of property owners. It does not matter whether it is the main residence, especially during the holiday season, or a second home. Therefore, questions about measures to prevent squatting are common.

In this article we try to clarify the current situation with:

  • Facts and figures about squatters in Spain.
  • Advice on how to avoid squatting in your home.
  • The legal situation of squatting in Spain.

"Reclaiming one's own house after a squat is a very unpleasant experience for any owner. For this, immediate reporting is definitely necessary. But undoubtedly the best thing to do is to prevent the squatting".

With the various tricks, we want to help you make sure that none of these squatted homes belongs to you, thus sparing you a bad experience that can take months to resolve legally.

How many cases of illegal squatting are there in Spain?

Squatting is a real problem in Spain. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE, Ministry of the Interior), the number of reports of squatting has steadily increased in recent years:

  • 2016: 9,998
  • 2017: 10,619
  • 2018: 12,214
  • 2019: 14,621
  • 2020: The data is only for the first half of the year and is 7,450 (extrapolated to a year, it would be about 14,900 cases).

In other words, there are approximately 41 reports of squatting per day across Spain, with Catalonia and Madrid being the most affected municipalities.

Another common question is how many ilegally occupied houses there are in Spain. In 2017, the Cerdá Institute published a report estimating the number of squatted homes in Spain to be around 87,000, and a study by INE estimated this number to be 100,000 in 2018.

What kind of houses are the squatters targeting?

The targets of squatters are both private houses and houses owned by banks and real estate funds.

Among the affected properties owned by private individuals, one finds a wide range of squatted dwellings:

  • Main residences (primary residences) and secondary residences. Houses for rent. New buildings that are about to be delivered.
  • Properties in urban and also rural areas, but especially in big cities and coastal areas, where many of the houses are second homes that are empty most of the year.
  • Modest houses up to luxury villas.

How can you prevent ilegal squatters from entering your house?

Next, we want to help you avoid ilegal squatting in your house. You will find the best way at the end of this section.

1. Keep your house occupied

It may sound like a truism, but keeping your house occupied is undoubtedly one of the most effective measures against squatting. If the property is not occupied, there are two alternatives:

  • You can consider renting it out.
  • You can, on your own and/or with the help of neighbours, make the house look occupied. Recommended measures include: cleaning the house, emptying the letterbox, taking care of the garden, regular visits to the property, opening the shutters, switching on the lights...

It is also advisable to consider the following:

  • If you want to sell or rent the property, it is not advisable to put up posters. They could indicate that the property is unoccupied.
  • You should only inform people you trust that the house is empty.
  • It is not advisable to post all your movements on social media, as this information can be extremely valuable to squatters and thieves.

2. Physical means of reinforcement

These measures mainly apply to locks, windows and doors.

  • A high-quality security lock is one of the most important ways to prevent squatting, as it makes it much more difficult for squatters to get in. Nowadays, there are also so-called smart locks that only open the door digitally and cannot be forced open.
  • Reinforced doors are also highly recommended, as a good lock is of little use if the door can be opened with a simple kick.
  • Reinforced windows of medium or high security.
  • The bars on the windows are not very aesthetic, but they are useful especially on the ground floor and first floor when access is easy.

3. Alarm systems

As we have described in other posts, alarm systems are already a deterrent against intruders, whether burglars or squatters.

Alarm systems that are connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre are especially recommended for the specific case of squatters. Since the alarm is connected to the ARC, you have full assurance that the intrusion of an unknown person in your property, will be detected by activating the security protocol. Subsequently, all technical and human resources will be mobilised to resolve the incident and/or alert the Security Forces. In this way, a report will be made immediately and the eviction will be carried out to avoid the occupation.

Alarm systems linked to an alarm receiving centre include elements such as:

  • Video cameras and video detectors connected to the Alarm Receiving Centre and sometimes to the owner's mobile phone. If there are signs of intrusion, the camera starts recording and sends an alert.
  • Domotic control of other elements of the smart home. Some security systems allow control not only of the alarm but also of other elements of the home via an application on the mobile phone. For example, turning lights on and off, opening and closing blinds or curtains....

Unlike alarm systems that are connected to an ARC, it should be noted that alarms without connection to an ARC only emit signals (audible) and/or warn the owner, who bears the entire responsibility for taking a decision. 

What to do if squatters have already moved into your property?

The next concern arises when squatting has already taken place. Then the owner wonders what to do to get rid of the squatters. The first option that may come to many people's minds is to go to the police to file a complaint.

However, there are other legal ways to regain a home in case of squatting, which we explain below.

Civil proceedings

The regulation approved in July 2018, known as the "ley del desahucio exprés" or "law of express eviction" (applicable to private owners and public buildings), sought to simplify the process through a civil procedure.

However, it has not provided the comprehensive and rapid response that any citizen confronted with an ilegally occupied home would want. Sometimes it takes more than six months to recover the property. The procedure ends with a decision (against which no appeal is possible) ordering the immediate eviction of the occupied dwelling. However, sometimes there are real experts of the profession who know all the mechanisms to delay the eviction from the property as much as possible.

Criminal law

The Criminal Code typifies two cases of illegal occupation of property against the owner's will.

  • Breaking and entering (allanamiento de morada) under Article 202. It is punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years if there is no violence or intimidation, and between one- and four-years’ imprisonment and a fine of six to twelve months if there is violence or intimidation.
  • Misappropriation (usurpación) under Article 245. It is punishable by a fine of three to six months.

What are the differences between breaking and entering and misappropiation?

There are several, the most notable being the one relating to the term "dwelling" (morada).

  • "Dwelling" means the dwelling in which the daily life of the owner takes place, permanently or temporarily, including secondary dwellings.
  • "Dwelling" is therefore not an abandoned dwelling, a dwelling under construction... as no one lives there.


  • If the occupied dwelling is a dwelling, one must turn to Article 202 of the Criminal Code (breaking and entering).
  • If the occupied property cannot be called a dwelling, one must resort to Article 245 of the Criminal Code (misappropriation).

In any case, in order to initiate criminal proceedings, a complaint must be filed with the police or the competent court. At the same time, the urgent adoption of the precautionary measure of expelling the squatters must be urged.

Conclusion: Good prevention is the best solution

In short, good prevention is the best solution, so the above measures and especially an alarm system connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre are the best guarantee against squatting. They save the owners a sometimes lengthy legal dispute with all the associated costs.

At Trablisa we offer an exclusive anti-squatting alarm system with the latest technology, specially designed for places where electricity is not available, such as second homes or closed flats.

This system has a battery that lasts for 4 years and does not need to be recharged. Furthermore, in the event of an alarm, our ARC specialists, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, will take the appropriate decision, such as sending our immediate intervention team and/or alerting the Security Forces.

More information about our alarm against squatters.

Otros contenidos similares

Contract or Request more information

Call FREE on 900 535 961
or we can call you
Privacy info
Request a quote for your alarm
Your contact details
Do you need to install your alarm urgently?
Choose your preferred day and time of installation* (optional)
*Solo en Baleares
Privacy info