Against the backdrop of the pandemic and the closure of borders, homeless people predominantly from African and Eastern European countries in Spain began to actively practice the so-called “squatting” – the unauthorized seizure of residential premises.
In Spain, at one time, citizens of the Russian Federation actively preferred to acquire property. Now their houses and apartments, due to quarantine and the inability to enter this southern European country, have been empty for several months. People without housing began to actively use it – from local homeless to refugees who came to Spain and found themselves without a roof over their heads.
At the end of last year, human rights organizations reported a sharp increase in the number of migrants who come to Spain and find themselves without housing and livelihoods. According to CNA, there are now 14 thousand in Spain, and in 2016 there were only four thousand. So, in Barcelona, dozens of people sleep on benches, in parks or in temporary camps.
Under quarantine conditions, as well as overcrowding in shelters and temporary refugee detention centers, some of them began to squat, seizing houses and apartments owned by foreigners, including Russians who could not come to Spain. As a citizen of the Russian Federation named Natalya, who lives in the province of Almeria, told reporters, people sometimes move into other people’s homes with entire families, despite the law on the inviolability of private property. According to her, among them are migrants of different nationalities. They come from African countries, from the CIS, from Eastern Europe, and even from the USA, from Brazilians and Moroccans to Lithuanians and Gypsies.
By the way, the European media also wrote about a large number of Moroccans deprived of a roof over their heads. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, they are trying to make a dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean in search of a better life. “Coronavirus or not, we go there (to Spain) for our future,” said 22-year-old Moroccan AFP.
Recently, not only the homeless or migrants, but also middle-class Spaniards, who lost their roof over their heads and failed to pay mortgages, began to seize the property of Russians. According to the Russians, many of them are moving from one apartment to another. Squatters actively exploit clear flaws in Spanish law. The fact is that they can be evicted from other people’s apartments only through a court, however, the defense side constantly appeals to the fact that everyone in Spain has the right to housing. In addition, law enforcement officers are not allowed to enter the seized premises until the violators themselves open the door.
In conditions when Spanish law takes the side of the violator who has arbitrarily settled in someone else’s premises, and not the owner of the housing, the owners began to unite in groups. So, in several cities in the Basque Country, homeowners have teamed up and kicked out squatters from the apartments they seized. Local politicians have already demanded that official Madrid tighten the punishment for unauthorized invaders of property.