What is an eviction?
An eviction (desahucio in Spanish) is the process by which the owner of a property tries to regain possession from a tenant or illegal occupant. It can be about recovering a house, premises, or plot; the owner needs the process to be carried out within the law.
It is convenient to have professional advice to try, at first, to regain possession through an agreement between the parties. If the agreement is not possible, the intervention of the authorities will be necessary, either the police or the court, depending on the case.
The reasons for the eviction may be the expiration of the lease, non-payment of rent, breach by the tenant of their obligations, or even the need for the owner or their family to have a home. It can also be about evicting occupants or squatters who have entered the property illegally.
How is the eviction process in Spain?
The judicial eviction process is quite simple, even if the claim for non-payment of rent is attached. You will need a lawyer and a solicitor, as well as having to provide proof of ownership and the lease (if it exists).
The eviction process – mainly regulated by Law 1/2000, 7 January, on Civil Procedure – undergoes the process of a verbal trial, which is simpler and quicker than the ordinary trial. Its rules are within different chapters of the Civil Procedure Act, referring to various issues such as territorial jurisdiction (Article 52.1.7), acts of communication (Article 155.3), future sentences (Article 220.2), the scope of the verbal trial (Article 250.1), rules for determining the amount (Article 251.9), acceptance (Article 21.3), enervation (Article 22.4), claim and processing (Articles 437- 444) and demand for enforcement (Article 549.3).
The reforms that the Civil Procedure Act has undergone in relation to evictions have been of different objectives. On the one hand, in recent times, the main modifications have been made to protect the right to housing for the most vulnerable families, and, on the other, to speed up the process of recovering possession of dwellings illegally occupied by squatters.
Depending on whether it is a contractual lease or an illegal occupation, the recovery procedure is very different.
Eviction in tenancy cases
Due to the profit that can be obtained by renting out a property in Spain, there are many investors including British, European, Canadian, and American citizens, who decide to buy a house in Spain to rent it out. This act, although profitable, also has its risks, such as non-payment of rent by the tenant.
The most common causes of eviction are those arising from a lease contract. According to the Civil Code (article 1569), the lessor may judicially evict the lessee for any of the following causes: expiry of the conventional or legal term, non-payment, breach of any of the conditions stipulated in the contract, or to use the leased property for uses or services not agreed upon that make it depreciate, or not to be subject to the agreed use or according to custom.
Apart from the general regulation of the Civil Code, there are more specific rules such as the Urban Leases Act and the Rural Leases Act. Particularly important is the regulation of housing leases, contained in the Urban Leases Act, which provides greater protection for tenants, given the importance of the right to housing, which is enshrined in the Spanish Constitution (Article 47).
For example, according to the provisions of Article 9 of the Law on Urban Leases, at the time of termination of a residential lease, a tenant who fulfills his obligations cannot be evicted if they want to remain in the dwelling for a period of five years (seven years in the case of a legal person as landlord).
The eviction process should begin, as soon as possible, with a formal notice to the tenant, terminating the lease (either for expiry of the term or for breach of obligations) and claiming any sums due. It is appropriate to make the first formal demand as soon as the tenant is in breach of any of their obligations.
The court action must then be filed, after which the tenant will be required by the court to vacate the property and pay the claimed debt. If they do not agree, they will have ten days to object and claim. If they are entitled to do so and pay the outstanding payments, there is a continuation of the lease. If you intend to terminate the housing lease due to non-payment of rent, the tenant will have the right to continue living at the property if they pay the accumulated debt, unless the claim has been formally notified and the lawsuit is filed a month later. They will also not have the right to continue the lease if it is not the first time they have been sued.
In the same summons the court will set a date on which the tenant must hand over the property if they do not give any reason to oppose the termination of the lease. In the event of any opposition, there will be a trial. If the non-compliance is proven or the termination of the contract is justified, the court will issue a judgement ordering the eviction and the payment of the debt.
If the tenant does not hand over possession, the landlord will request forced eviction. Currently, according to the provisions of Royal Decree-Law 11/2020, in cases of habitual residence of persons or families in a situation of vulnerability, the court will inform the social services and a postponement of the forced eviction can be requested. In these cases, landlords may request financial compensation from the administration.
Need a professional consultation for evicting a tenant in Spain?
Express eviction law in Spain
Moving to Spain and property conveyancing a house in Spain is the dream of many citizens of foreign countries, investing in Spain to buy their second residence and enjoy their holidays in a warm climate. The problem can come when we return to our country of residence and the house is occupied by Squatters, causing a multitude of problems for the owner of the property.
Currently, there is a special social sensitivity to the proliferation of squatters. We have a special procedure for evicting squatters in Spain, commonly called desahucio exprés (express eviction) which is intended to be even simpler and faster.
The most recent amendment to the Civil Procedure Act, in this respect, has been the inclusion of paragraph 1 of Article 441.
The Express eviction process can be initiated against any occupant of a property, even if we do not know who they are.
The Court will require the presenting of a title deed with the warning that if it is not provided within five days, the immediate surrender of the dwelling shall be ordered.
Depending on the circumstances, illegal occupation may be a crime, and the way to proceed may be criminally. Illegal occupation of a home, even if it is a second home, is a housebreaking crime.
How long does it take to evict a tenant in Spain?
The eviction process in Spain can take several months, so it is a good idea to start as soon as possible. The process may be delayed for various reasons, such as the designated court’s workload or communication problems with the tenant. It is advisable that the landlord assumes the notice of the claim on the tenant, in order to avoid delays.
It should also be considered that families in a situation of economic vulnerability have the possibility of delaying the eviction, although it is still recommended to start the procedure as soon as possible.
How much does an eviction cost?
The eviction process can involve costs of between €500 or €3,000, depending on the tenant’s or occupier’s opposition to the process and the amount of rent.
Normally, the court will require the tenant to pay not only the sums due but also the court costs incurred by the plaintiff. It will depend on the solvency of the debtor whether or not these costs are definitively recovered.
Useful tips to avoid the entry of squatters in your property
Squatters usually watch the house before occupying it as they need to make sure that it is empty. In Spain, it is very common for homes belonging to banks to be occupied. Here are some basic tips to avoid these situations:
- Always have a contact person who can visit the house regularly, or who can help in the event of an attempted entry.
- Contact a friend to collect letters from the letterbox.
- Explore the possibility of installing a mechanism that allows you to turn on a light or raise or lower a blind, as well as installing security doors.
- Another possibility is renting out a property during the time that the property is not occupied by the owners.
- Installation of alarms with cameras connected to the police; the alarms that are connected to the police station allow the authorities to act in the event of an alarm without any type of judicial order.
Tejada Solicitor recommends that you consult your lawyer or tax advisor about the tax implications of having a rented property in Spain that is involved in eviction proceedings.
Eviction process in Spain: Frequently Asked Questions
Can my Spanish landlord evict me for rent arrears without a court order?
A lessor may try to come to an agreement with a tenant over non-payment of rent in the initial stages, using a legal representative. If this is unsuccessful, the tenant will have to file for a court order to be able to continue with the eviction process.
What are my rights as a tenant in Spain?
Once you have signed a lease for a property, it is your right and the lessor’s obligation to ensure the property is habitable throughout your tenancy. Lessors are not allowed to enter the premises unless they have given notice to tenants – without tenant’s permission, they can be legally prosecuted. You can find more about tenants’ rights here.
Can a landlord kick you out in three days?
If the landlord presents the tenants with the judicial eviction notice, the court grants tenants 10 days to pay any debt before eviction can take place. Other factors may also affect the time of eviction, for example, if the tenants claim against the notice, or if they show the court proof that they do not have sufficient means and assets to pay the debt.
How many months rent arrears before eviction?
With a contractual lease, the lessor is legally allowed to request eviction after one month of no payment. However, it is more common for lessor’s to wait for two consecutive months of no payment to have grounds for eviction as the judicial process is time-consuming and costs money.
What to do if a tenant refuses to leave?
If a tenant refuses or claims against the judicial eviction notice, the case will be dealt with by the authorities. At this point, either the police or the court will intervene, depending on the case details.
Author: Rosa Vega
Biographical Info: Rosa Vega is an english-speaking lawyer at Tejada Solicitors. Full member of Málaga Bar Association. She is specialized in property conveyancing
Tejada Solicitors is an English-speaking law firm based in Malaga and Costa del Sol, specialized in property conveyancing, inheritance tax, residence for foreigners, self-employed tax declarations, and most legal and financial aspects of relevance to foreigners and ex-pats living in Spain. For any questions and inquiries regarding the Spanish market, don’t hesitate to contact us either by phone or e-mail.