Squatters who occupied apartments in Palma were convicted of extortion. | Alejandro Sepúlveda


Last year, the Guardia Civil and National Police received 324 complaints about squatting, an increase of 14% over 2019; these were either for usurpation of a residence or breaking and entering. This rise wasn't necessarily an indication that there was more squatting; it was more a case of owners being prepared to denounce squatting.

At the same time, the number of "express" cases heard by courts was 149, whereas in 2019 there were 192 of these hearings designed to remove squatters rapidly. These court figures are themselves the tip of the iceberg, as the large property owners, such as banks, hardly ever take cases to court.

Lawyer Matías Baron says that the "mafias" know full which properties belong to banks and that there are concentrations of these properties in areas with reputations for being troublesome, such as La Soledat and Son Gotleu in Palma. For banks, taking squatting to court has certain problems. One has to do with who is to be taken to court, if illegal tenants change.

According to the Balearic High Court's 2020 report, there were 3,321 cases for possession, but this number doesn't distinguish between squatting and other reasons. So, the scale of court involvement with squatting is somewhat unknown.

Baron adds that people's apparent vulnerability is another factor which deters cases being brought, while decrees introduced because of the pandemic have limited the number of evictions. The courts have been erring on the side of the lesser offence of usurpation of a second residence rather than breaking and entering.