Law 5/2018 amending the Spanish Law 1/2000 on Civil Procedure in relation to the illegal occupation of housing (the “Law in relation to the illegal occupation of housing“) establishes an oral procedure that can only be used by individuals who are the owners or the lawful possessors of an occupied dwelling, non-profit organisations which have the right to own property or public entities that own property or are the lawful possessors of social housing and, therefore, excludes for-profit businesses and homeowners associations from this procedure.
The Law in relation to the illegal occupation of housing introduces significant changes in some articles of the Spanish Civil Procedure Law, as will be explained below.
Firstly, action can be directed against unknown occupants without the need to identify the persons that have occupied the dwelling, without prejudice to the fact that the notification of the claim is made to the person or persons who are in the property at the time the notification is made. This is one of the most significant novelties because it was really difficult to identify the persons who were occupying the dwelling.
Secondly, the court can take “immediate action” and speed up the eviction of the illegal occupants. To this end, the Law establishes that the plaintiff shall file a claim, which must be accompanied by the title to the property on which his/her right of possession is based. Once admitted for processing, the court will give the occupants a term of five days to submit the title to the property on which their right of possession is based. Two options are possible: i) that the property title is not provided or that the property title fails to provide sufficient proof, in which case the court will issue an order (which cannot be appealed) ordering the eviction of the illegal occupants or ii) that the property title is provided. In this case, the trial will be conducted through oral proceedings.
Thirdly, it is worth mentioning that the judicial decision ordering the eviction of the illegal occupants must be communicated to the public services competent in the field of social policy so that they may adopt the appropriate protective measures, provided that those affected by the eviction have expressed their consent, except in those cases where minors and legally incapacitated adults are involved. In such cases, eviction will take place without obtaining their prior consent.
To conclude, the Law in relation to the illegal occupation of property introduces some new significant changes in the Spanish civil procedure law with the aim of speeding up the eviction of illegal occupied property without jeopardising the welfare rights of the most vulnerable persons.