FOUR people in Valencia are facing charges including illegal occupation, coercion and assault after kicking squatters out of two apartments in the middle of the night.
The owner of the two apartments faces a €7,200 fine for ‘arbitrary exercise of personal rights’ while three professionals each face 12 years prison and €3,500 fines for assault.
The property owner contracted the three professionals from a Madrid-based company specialising in evictions of illegal squatters.
Spain’s regional prosecution service accuses the three of breaking into two apartments in Valencia’s Benicalap neighbourhood, before brandishing ‘knives’ and ‘steel bars’ and threatening to ‘cut the heads off’ the squatters.
The professionals are accused of wearing balaclavas, intimidating two couples and forcing them to sign a document agreeing to terms of their exit.
They each face one count of allanamiento de morada (breaking-and-entering a primary home) and four counts of coaccion (coercion).
Each face a fine of €3500 for minor injuries and one faces a crime of sexual abuse for allegedly ‘touching’ one of the women’s breasts, who was sleeping naked when the entry took place.
The company dedicated to evicting squatters denied the accusations.
“If there existed laws that rapidly evicted someone illegally occupying your home, there would be no need for companies like ours,” the company’s director told Levante EMV.
“My boys never used violence, our job is mediation to ensure the squatters leave voluntarily.”
The arrests took place on September 29 following the alleged break-in of two dwellings on Valencia’s Emilio de Valencia street.
The property owner is reportedly a real estate agent.
It comes as Spain faces ever-increasing complaints of illegal squatters with 13,389 records of illegal occupations between January to September 2021.
Squatters particularly target uninhabited homes or ones up for auction, resale or owned by banks as once installed it becomes illegal under Spain’s Constitution for anyone to enter without a court order.
Criminal and civil cases against illegal squatters can take months for courts to process and determine the property was occupied illegally.
While cases or ongoing, legitimate owners can face crimes of allanamiento de morada or coaccion in efforts to regain access to their properties.