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Squatters' Rights in Spain

Updated April 17, 2017

Spain has a strong tradition of squatting. Squatters are known as "okupas" and are particularly common in Barcelona. Squatters rights used to be strong, however, the 1990s saw the Spanish government clamp down on the practice.

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Legal Squatting

During the 1980s thousands of illegal squatters were legalised. Some large, commune-like squats are still tolerated by the community. An example of a well-established and tolerated squat is Can Masdeu, a former leprosy asylum on the edge of Barcelona.

Article 245

Article 245 of the Spanish Código Penal was enacted in 1996. It prohibits squatting and defines okupas as lawbreakers. After this legislation was passed, many squatters were evicted by police.


Despite the illegality of squatting in Spain, it can still be difficult for property owners to rid themselves of squatters. Police do not always act quickly and it is possible you may encounter legal problems if you try to remove them yourself.


According to a 2007 interview with a Spanish squatter published online at Cafe Babel, it is not uncommon for property owners to take matters into their own hands if the police eviction procedure is too slow. "Matones" are hired thugs which have been known to be used to threaten squatters.

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About the Author

From New Zealand and now freelancing in London, Alice Hudson began her writing career in 2004, specializing in health and fitness, lifestyle and personal finance. Her work has appear in the "Hawke's Bay Today" daily newspaper and "The Herald on Sunday." Hudson attained a Bachelor of Arts and diploma in journalism from the University of Canterbury.

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