Expat property owners in Spain warned of squatter epidemic

Published:  28 Apr at 6 PM
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A British expat couple on lockdown in the UK can finally repossess their Spanish home after a court enforced the eviction of squatters.

Having emigrated to Spain from the West Midlands, Jean and Peter Willow bought their property some 12 years ago after visiting Malaga and deciding to stay. They found an affordable apartment in the suburbs, made friends and enjoyed their new life and meeting new people. One evening, they began chatting with another Brit in the bar opposite their building, with the new friendship resulting in his house-sitting in the apartment whilst the couple returned to the UK for a while. Sensibly, the couple asked to see the man’s passport in order to verify he was genuine, but all seemed in order, especially as he insisted on giving them proof.

For several years, the couple exchanged phone calls and the guy sent photos of him decorating and keeping the apartment clean. Everything seemed fine until he stopped answering his phone. The couple were still paying off their mortgage on the apartment, and decided to visit to check everything was in order, taking a lawyer with them just in case. When they arrived, they found the locks had been changed and a family of gypsies had moved in. Back at the lawyer’s office, they begged him to get their home back, although they were told it might well take some time.

Almost three years later, the gypsy family were finally evicted and police found a quantity of stolen property in the apartment. The legal owners are now locked down in the UK and can’t get back to their home from home, even although Malaga police are recording an epidemic of squatters taking over expat properties, fully aware the owners can’t arrive and stop them. The moral of this sad tale could well be simply ‘don’t buy a property in Spain unless you can guarantee 24/7 occupancy’.
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