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How owning a gun (but not using it) protects Spain's homeowners from squatters

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 15 Feb, 2023 Updated Wed 15 Feb 2023 09:12 CEST
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How owning a gun (but not using it) protects Spain's homeowners from squatters. Photo: Tom Def / Unsplash

Having a firearm at home - even if it's under lock and key, without bullets and never used - is an effective but little-known way to ensure that squatters cannot stay in your home in Spain. Here's why.


In 2022, the granting of gun licences in Spain increased by a third, a record figure. The reason for this is that having a firearm can protect your home against squatters, but not in the sense of pointing it at them or shooting, which could have far more complicated and potentially worse legal implications for you.

In recent years the Spanish squatting movement ‘Okupa’ has been on the rise, but even though the numbers decreased slightly in 2022, it's still a big problem. 

It's hard to be certain about how many properties are currently occupied in Spain, as squatting is a secretive act and there isn't a record of how many properties have been reclaimed by owners. But, according to interior ministry data, more than 10,000 homes have been illegally occupied every year since 2015. 

Comparing January to July 2021 with the same period of 2022, data indicates that in the first half of last year, there were a total of 10,220 squats, 5.43 percent less than those recorded in the first months of 2021.


In 2022, Catalonia registered the most squatting incidents, which in the first seven months of the year saw 4,639 cases, more than 40 percent of the total in Spain, according to figures from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior. 

While regions such as Madrid and Andalusia have seen the squatting figures drop slightly in 2022, Valencia and Extremadura, on the other hand, have suffered an increase of 23.66 percent and 5.43 percent respectively. 

Why squatters often have the upper hand over homeowners

If the okupación is reported within 48 hours and it is the first home of the owner, police officers may evict the squatters without the need for a court order. However, if more than 48 hours have passed and it's a second home, things get more complicated and it can be difficult to evict them.

Squatters are often familiar with the law and use the principle of inviolability of the home to plead their case. By changing the locks they legally enforce this, because not even the owner can enter without a court order.

The squatters have the upper hand in this sense; if the real owners break-in, the okupas can sue them, and if the proprietors don't pay the bills, they'll go on a defaulters' list. They'll use other tricks such as having goods ordered to the address to prove that it's their dwelling and have minors at the property to strengthen their legal protection. 

Critics say the Spanish law abandons property owners and that there are too many legal obstacles that hinder the speedy eviction of squatters. 

READ ALSO: What's the law on squatting in Spain?


Potential solution

An increasing number of worried homeowners in Spain have found an unexpected solution to the risk of squatters occupying their property, which explains the record rise in gun ownership in the country.

If you have a gun on the property, the Spanish Civil Guard has the legal right to enter, no matter when and whatever the circumstances.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, as stated on the website of the Civil Guard, "people who use weapons must be able to control them at all times. In the presence or proximity of other people, they must act with the necessary diligence and precautions, and behave in such a way that they cannot cause danger, damage, harm or inconvenience to third parties or their property. 

This means that when a homeowner discovers that their property has been taken over by squatters they can immediately notify the Guardia Civil, who have the right to immediately enter the property and evict anyone who may potentially be misusing a weapon.

READ ALSO: What is the law on self-defence in the home in Spain?


What are the gun laws in Spain?

You cannot carry or possess firearms in Spain without an official license or special authorisation from the state.  According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, the number of licences and authorisations granted for the possession and use of firearms in 2022 in Spain increased by 38 percent compared to the previous year. Among these, the most requested are for the so-called hand weapons, including pistols and revolvers.  

Getting your hands on a weapon in Spain is a difficult process though, and involves a laborious list of official tests, interviews and, of course, waiting. Among other tasks, you must pass a theory exam which includes questions on weapons and, crucially, gun laws and regulations in Spain, as well as undergo and pass a psychological assessment.

There are different types of licences that range from the use of rifles for hunting only to other sports and self-defence.

Legal gun owners in Spain have some responsibilities, namely keeping the firearm in a secure place and to prevent theft or loss, and to present the gun to the Guardia Civil whenever they ask.

So, if you are able to legally get a licence it could in the future help protect your property against squatters and get them evicted quicker.

READ MORE: What's the law on guns in Spain?



The Local 2023/02/15 09:12

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