Gangs of Russian squatters are exploiting empty Spanish holiday properties owned by Brits, Belgians and Ukrainians who are unable to use them because of the war in their country. The owner of Spanish security company Desokupa2, which removes squatters from holiday homes, told the i that there are organized groups that are targeting vacant holiday properties along the Costa Blanca.
Once their in, the squatters change the locks and then illegally sell or rent the properties, thus generating thousands of pounds a month.
The Despkupa2 boss said as well as holiday homes, the squatter gangs also target families who say they are unable to meet their mortgage repayments. “They target homes owned by Ukrainians because they are not here because of the war,” he told the i.
“In other cases, they go for the empty holiday homes of Britons who are not here and Belgians who own a lot of homes in this area too. The gangs come from Russia and other countries.”
The business owner insists his firm never uses force to evict unwanted inhabitants. Instead, his staff negotiate with the squatters to get them to leave. This process can take anywhere from a day to a month.
“We don’t want to get into dangerous situations. There are some bad people who do this,” he said. Desokupa2 said they charge between €1,500 (£1,328) and €3,000 (£2,656) to evict squatters from properties.
Three in ten of Desokupa2 cases involve organized gangs the owner said, the rest are people claiming to be unable to pay their mortgage. However, he often doubts that those claims are genuine.
“They say they are in debt and cannot pay the mortgage but that is often not the case. We arrived once to find a BMW in the drive or in another case, a chef who works at a top restaurant in Alicante,” he said.
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“This gang used children to prevent them from being thrown out of flats that they occupied,” a spokesperson for the Mossos d’Esquadra said. The gang, according to police, had a price list for renting an entire flat for between €500 and €900 a month, or individual rooms for €200 to €300 a month.
Flats sold for between €4,000 and €5,000 to individuals but rose to between €6000 and €8000 when dealing with banks and investment funds.