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In the last year important new legislation has come into force in the area of leases, measures that on the one hand seek to protect the owner who has been stripped of its property, and in turn seek to protect those families who are at risk of residential exclusion.

In the last semester of 2018 the so-called “express eviction” procedure came into force, included in Law 5/2018 amending the Law of Civil Procedure, in relation to the illegal occupation of housing, which allows owners to immediately recover possession of a property for housing that has been occupied illegally (thus excluding business premises).

This procedure can only be used by individuals, non-profit organizations and public entities that own social housing, and the title to the property must accompany the claim.

Once admitted for processing, the occupants will have a period of five days to provide the title to legitimize their possession, otherwise, and if not answer the request within the legally provided for, will proceed immediately to pass judgment, being this executable immediately and without the need to wait for the period of 20 days provided for other procedures, which implies a quick and effective response to a phenomenon of great concern to those citizens who are stripped of their property, and which is attempted with an expeditious and rapid procedure.

In order to avoid the creation of enabling titles that allow this initial opposition, it is recommended that, mainly by the property administrations, no one other than the owner should be provided with the bank details of the current account of the community of owners, rejecting any payment that does not come from the owner.

Another important novelty is that the action can be directed against unknown occupants, without the need to identify them, without prejudice to the fact that the notification of the claim is made to the person or persons who are in the property at the time the notification is made.

However, this procedure only for the protection of the natural person owner could well have been extended to those properties owned by legal persons that are in reality no more than patrimonial companies holding scarce properties, excluding the so-called large holders, if that was the will of the legislator.

This phenomenon of the occupation of other people’s property, which is causing so much damage to the owners, clashes head-on with another social reality: the situation of economic and social vulnerability of a large number of families and homes, which has given rise to Royal Decree-Law 7/2019, of 1 March, on urgent measures in the field of housing and renting, at state level.

Both in the case of evictions due to expiration of the contractual term and non-payment of rent, the Court must inform the defendants of the possibility of resorting to social services in order to assess the possible situation of vulnerability, a situation which, if confirmed, will lead to the suspension of the judicial procedure.

This suspension varies depending on whether the property is owned by a natural or legal person. For the former, the suspension will be for one month, and for the latter for three months, in both cases counting from the time the social services inform the Court of the aforementioned situation of vulnerability.

This would undoubtedly lead to a new collapse in the Administration of Justice, given that the social services of the different town councils lack the personnel and the necessary means to respond to the procedural requirements in a timely manner.

For this reason, it seems that our courts opt for these deadlines to be calculated from the sending of the petition formulated by the Court to the social services and not from the response they can give (or not give).

In any case, we must await the development of judicial practice in application of this Law and other similar laws that have been dictated at an autonomous level, such as Law 24/2015, of 29 July, on urgent measures to deal with the emergency in the area of housing and energy poverty, which we will develop in future articles.

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