THE Senate has approved specific measures against illegal occupiers of private property.
Under the new bill, squatters will be served with an eviction notice and told to either justify ownership of the property through a title deed, or show the lack of one on behalf of the claimant.
If no sufficient justification can be provided, the court will order immediate repossession of the home with no chance of appeals.
What’s of particular interest is a drastic change to previous squatters rights, which allowed them to fight the case in court buying an average of 15 months grace.
Under the new rules a fast-track procedure has been introduced allowing owners to get squatters out in a matter of weeks.
Under the changes it states that the rules prevent the ‘extorsion’ of the owner with the purpose of obtaining financial compensation as a condition for the recovery of the property.
It adds that it is often conducted by ‘very organized mafia-style networks’.
Courts will now serve notice to squatters (identified or not) giving them five days to produce a rental agreement, or any other document enabling them to lawfully stay in the property.
Failing to find this will lead to the court issuing an immediate eviction notice.
In addition, under the new law the Courts will have to observe the following:
– Squatters will have no rights other than to produce a valid agreement to cover their stay in the property. Opposing any application to have them evicted will not stop the process
– Squatters will have no right of appeal and will be immediately evicted
– Social services will be on standby in case of eviction of children, elderly or people with special needs
– The reform will only affect properties whose owners are ‘private individuals, non-profits and public agencies that own social housing’. It leaves out real estate held by banks and investment funds
The above measures will become applicable 20 days after the publication of the law reform in the Official Gazette at some point this summer.