Act 1/2023, of February 15, on urgent measures to tackle landlord inaction in case of illegal occupation of housing causing neighborly coexistence problems (“Act 1/2023”) was published in the Official Journal of the Catalan Government on February 18, 2023 and came into force immediately.
This law will force large real estate owners, i.e., financial institutions, legal entities owning more than 10 homes and individuals owning more than 15, to initiate eviction actions against illegal occupants that cause neighborly coexistence problems.
Act 1/2023 enables the local city councils in Catalonia, ex officio or at the request of the homeowner association, to require large real estate owners to prove that they have fulfilled their obligation to start the eviction process.
If, within one month from receiving notice from the city council, the landlord fails to prove that (i) the occupants have a legal document entitling them to live in the home; (ii) that it has initiated eviction proceedings; or (iii) that the occupants have been evicted, the city council will be able to initiate the appropriate action. In addition, failure to comply with this requirement will be considered a serious and punishable administrative offense.
If the large real estate owner does not fulfill its obligation to bring the required eviction actions, the local city council will be able to get hold of the dwelling to use it for public housing for seven years. The city council will be able to apply the rent obtained to reimburse the cost of the court proceedings and expenses to adapt the home to comply with the occupancy regulations.
We should keep in mind that the suspension of eviction proceedings and removing vulnerable illegal occupants without a housing alternative until June 30, 2023 is still in force all over Spain. However, we can expect that the situation foreseen in the Catalan Act 1/2023 will fit under one of the exceptions to halting eviction provided in Royal Decree-Law 11/2020, of March 31, adopting supplementary urgent measures in the social and economic areas to tackle COVID-19.
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