British expat couple’s life in Spain ruined by squatters

Published:  24 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, UK, England
A retired British couple in Spain are defying a gang of squatters rather than giving up on their dream.

Former police sergeant Linda Brown and her partner Arlene left the UK for a dream retirement complex apartment in Denia, a charming Costa Blanca town some 30 miles from Benidorm. In 2007, they purchased their penthouse for £250,000, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in the beautiful setting. Sadly, due to the 2008 financial crash, only 11 apartments were sold, but life went on for the couple until 2014, when a group of 12 children and one man broke into one of the empty apartments, quickly claiming squatters’ rights.

The group was swiftly followed by seven more clans, thus making a third of the complex illegally occupied and forcing out all the apartment owners with the exception of Linda and Arlene. What followed became an ongoing nightmare, with the gang of squatters appointing themselves a leader referred to as the ‘Chief’ and trashing the once-pristine development. They torched one apartment, beat up a caretaker, broke in and stripped several homes, tore out light fittings leaving half the block in darkness and guarded their own area with a vicious pit bull dog. Linda has been threatened by an axe-wielding squatter, hit in one eye and threatened because they wouldn’t move out, as have all the other expat owner-residents.

The complex is now a no-go area, but each apartment owner is still being charged £500 monthly for services they’re not receiving, and the gang aren’t paying. The squatters are also stealing water and electricity, causing a £20,000 debt which should be covered as communal bills. Two of the women have threatened Arlene and assaulted her when she requested they turn down their karaoke machine. Daily threats and abuse are now the norm for the British expat couple, but they’re still determined not to give in and leave. They’ve paid £1,200 to make their apartment secure, with a metal gate, cameras and a private lift for which they pay £150 monthly.

The gangs have destroyed the image of the pretty town, with tourists and would-be expats no longer arriving, and drugs are now being sold and a brothel set up on the complex. Police and the local authority are well aware of the situation, but claim they can’t do anything because of a Spanish law which prevents police forcing entry into properties where a developer owns the land. Of the 65 apartments, 20 have now been squatted, but only the owner of the building can get a court eviction order.
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