Frightened homeowners are too scared to put ‘for sale’ signs on their properties

Squatting has become such a blight in this city that homewares are too scared to put ‘for sale’ or ‘for rent’ signs on their properties.

Fear of intruders and squatters has caused terror in parts of the Spanish real estate market, local media reports, as vendors avoid advertising houses from fear of strangers moving in. A legal quirk means after two days of occupation, they can stay.

Squatters are an issue in Murcia, in the country’s southeast, compelling sellers to advertise online only and avoid erecting ‘for sale’ or ‘for rent’ boards for worry their properties will be easily identified as empty and targeted, according to expat newspaper The Olive Press.

British expats who own homes in the Spanish district have found themselves the victims of a squatter cartel named Los Okupas. The gangs enter empty houses and apartments, change the locks and sell the owners’ belongings, according to reports.

Homeowners in Spain find they almost powerless to have the occupants evicted and they can stay for years before the law catches up with them.

Under Spanish law, squatters who have occupied a home for more than 48 hours and are considered to have no other housing options cannot be removed from a property without a court order, and this process can take up to 18 months.

As housing markets around the world get more expensive, the issue of squatters has emerged as a legally and ethically thorny subject for governments and councils to work through.

It has never been harder to afford to buy a home or find a rental in Australia, with capital city house prices and vacancy rates at record levels.

The national vacancy rate is as tight as it has ever been, cranking down to 0.7 per cent as of February, when the latest Domain data was available.

In New York City, lawmakers are seeking to introduce a bill that would map and track squatters throughout Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

The proposal is a publicly available record of homes where squatters have taken up residence, including details of what – if any – legal action has been taken.

The council in New York City is proposing a method to track squatters. Photo: AsianDream / iStock

Councilwoman Susan Zhuang is a major driver of the bill. She has had first-hand experience with squatters in her Brooklyn neighbourhood.

“In my district, a union worker was forced to continue paying thousands of dollars for a mortgage for a home he and his hospitalized wife cannot live in,” Zhuang told The New York Post. “The house had been burnt down four times by a squatter who also caused a lot of other issues in the neighborhood.”

The Spanish Mission-style property in the bayside of Melbourne has been renovated thoughtfully, right down to details such as the imported Italian door.

Another Spanish-Mission style beauty, this one is in a leafy suburb and has heaps of character details throughout.

Named Bella Casa, the Spanish-Mission home blends 1930’s flourishes with modern touches, including the updated kitchen.



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