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23 Best ways to prevent squatters in your home

A growing concern for people who spend periods of time away from home, whether for work, vacation, or owning second homes, is the potential occupation by squatters, especially in countries like Spain, where legislation grants significant protection to squatters compared to the actual property owners. This, coupled with a highly bureaucratic and slow judicial system, can turn occupation into a real ordeal.

The key to preventing occupation is based on:

  1. Avoiding squatters’ entry: There are mainly three ways to prevent squatters from entering:
    1. Preventing squatters’ entry by simulating our presence.
    2. Preventing squatters’ entry through the use of the property.
    3. Preventing squatters’ entry through security measures.
  2. Surveillance measures to immediately detect squatters: The sooner we detect the illegal entry of squatters on our property, the sooner we can take action and have a better chance of expelling them quickly. On the other hand, if we take too long to realize the illegal intrusion of squatters, they will have more time to settle in, change locks, forge rental contracts, set up direct debits for water, electricity, and gas bills, etc. This will make the expulsion process more difficult and time-consuming.

First, let’s explain the most effective ways to prevent your home from being occupied, and then we’ll proceed to analyze how to act if such occupation becomes a reality:


1.1 Preventing squatters’ entry by simulating our presence

One very easy way to prevent our home from being occupied is to make it appear occupied. If we can make it seem like our house is not vacant, no one will attempt to occupy it since its supposed occupants would immediately call the police.

To achieve this, we have the following alternatives:

  1. Do not tell anyone outside your trusted circle that you will be away from home for a period of time: It is essential to be cautious about announcing our travel plans on social media. Anyone can take notice and take advantage of the situation.
  2. Programmable interior and exterior lighting. Nowadays, it is straightforward to illuminate the interior of your house to make it appear occupied by installing programmable plugs: These plugs are affordable and can be connected to the internet for control and programming through your mobile device. With their free application, you can have instant and complete control of their energy consumption on your phone. In the following link, we offer you a smart plug that, at a very affordable price, provides all these features. Likewise, exterior lights are ideal for deterring potential squatters. Therefore, if you have balconies, gardens, or private outdoor areas, installing solar-powered exterior lights will provide constant outdoor lighting, giving your home the appearance of being occupied.
  3. Leave the blinds partially open and move them: Do not fully close the blinds when you leave your home, as it clearly indicates that no one lives there. If possible, it would be advisable for a trusted acquaintance to move them occasionally if you are away for an extended period. Nowadays, if you have motorized blinds, there are mobile applications that allow you to raise and lower them or pre-program their movements. This makes it very easy to simulate your presence in your home.
  4. Keep the mailbox empty: Normally, mail is collected promptly, so a mailbox full of letters indicates that the house is vacant. If you spend a lot of time away from home, it is important to arrange for online mail delivery services for all your correspondence or, at the very least, have a neighbor or acquaintance regularly empty your mailbox. If you are not away for long periods, emptying the mailbox before leaving will suffice.
  5. Show some activity on your balcony and outdoor areas: When you leave your home, do not completely tidy up your balcony and private outdoor areas. It is logical to maintain a certain level of activity consistent with what you normally do throughout the year. You can leave something lying around or, if you have an outdoor table, leave it as is or place something on it, etc.
  6. Maintain the garden and plants: Seeing an abandoned garden or completely withered plants is a sign of an unoccupied property. Therefore, make sure your plants remain alive, either through a gardener or a trusted person who can water them, or by installing inexpensive automatic irrigation devices available nowadays.
  7. Be cautious with the doormat at the entrance door: If you live in a detached house or a single-family home, do not remove your doormat if it has been there all year. And if you live in an apartment building, it’s highly likely that the community cleaning service will collect the doormats when they mop the floors and leave them standing next to the doors. If that’s the case, try to have a good relationship with a neighbor who can put it back in its place for you, or notify the cleaning service not to touch it. If you can’t do either of those, it’s best to pick up the doormat from your door and keep it inside your house, as otherwise, it will remain standing in front of your door and anyone can see that you’re not home.
  8. Display alarm signs: Even if you don’t have an actual alarm system installed, simply having a sign indicating the presence of an alarm acts as a great deterrent, and most likely, nobody will risk attempting to break in. Of course, it’s always much better to have a real alarm system in place, as we will see later.
  9. Display dog warning signs: If you have a house with a garden, a sign warning of the presence of a dog will make any intruder think twice, even if there is no actual dog present. There are thousands of houses that can be occupied, so for squatters, it’s always better to target the easiest houses to occupy and avoid complicating their lives by occupying a house where there might be a dog.


2.2 Preventing Squatters’ Entry through Occupancy of the Property

We have discussed the simulation of human presence in our home as a very good option to deter squatters, but undoubtedly there is a better way to do it: through actual and effective occupancy of our house. For this, we have three alternatives:

  1. Long-term or vacation rental: If we have a second residence that we rarely use, renting it out is an excellent option to not only prevent possible occupation and damage by squatters but also to generate additional income that can be very beneficial. Don’t be afraid of tenants who may default on payments or cause damage to your property; nowadays, in exchange for a small portion of the monthly rent, there are numerous agencies and insurers that take care of selecting your ideal tenants through meticulous screening processes based on their income and solvency. In case of non-payment and/or damages to the apartment, they take care of it and assume the cost. If we only leave the property vacant for certain periods of the year, we can always opt for vacation rental, for which there are also agencies that handle and guarantee the entire management.
  2. Loaning the property: If there is a high rate of squatting and theft in your area, as a last resort, you may consider lending your property temporarily or for a symbolic rent to a close family member or friend, ensuring that they take care of your house. Both parties would be doing each other a great favor.
  3. Surveillance service: If your property is very large and luxurious, in an extreme case, you could choose to hire security personnel, although this would involve a significant expense. However, if it’s for a relatively short period of time, it can be a good option.


3.3 Preventing Squatters’ Entry through Security Measures

If preventive measures are not sufficient and squatters attempt to enter our property regardless, it is essential to have the necessary security elements to prevent their entry. Here are the most useful ones:

  1. Installation of window bars: If you live on the ground floor or a first-floor apartment with low height, installing window bars can be very convenient. This will prevent any squatter from entering through the windows.
  2. Securing the shutters: If you have shutters and live on the ground floor, it is crucial to secure them with a locking mechanism. This will make them completely immobile, and no one from the outside will be able to lift them. Moreover, if you ever decide to replace the windows, it’s interesting to know that there are motorized self-locking shutter systems available to prevent burglaries and squatting.
  3. Blocking sliding door access: If your property has patio or terrace access with sliding doors that are easily accessible from the street, it may be a good idea to install blocks to secure the sliders and prevent them from being forced open.
  4. Install high-quality locks: The main entrance door of homes remains the primary point of entry for thieves and squatters. Therefore, make sure to have a good lock on your door. According to statistics, 80% of households in Spain have outdated locks that are very easy for intruders to open, so if your lock is old, don’t hesitate to replace it. Currently, there are electronic locks on the market that offer great security and multiple functionalities, such as locking and unlocking from a mobile phone, temporary password editing for guests, mobile alerts and notifications, etc.
  5. Install invisible locks: In addition to having a good main lock on your entrance door, there are additional security locks available in the market called invisible locks that offer multiple advantages at a low cost. They can be quickly and easily self-installed, provide high security as they are not visible from the outside, and can be managed from a mobile phone, among other features.
  6. Owning a dog: In addition to displaying a dog warning sign mentioned earlier, having an actual dog in your garden will deter potential squatters or thieves, not only due to fear of the dog but also because it can bark and alert the owners and neighbors.
  7. Avoid leaving emergency keys near the house: Even if you live alone, it is not advisable to leave an emergency key outside the house in a hidden place like under a flowerpot or doormat. It is always better to give a copy to someone you trust.


2. Surveillance measures to immediately detect squatters

If preventive and security measures have failed and squatters manage to enter our home, we still have the opportunity to act if we have surveillance elements that alert us to their presence. The best ways to detect intruders in our home are:

  1. Install an alarm system: An alarm system is the most effective tool to detect intruders in your home. If you decide to hire a professional alarm company with a monitoring service, you won’t have to worry about a thing. The company will verify if the alarm is a false alarm or a violation of your private property and will notify you and the police. However, you will need to make a significant initial investment to install the alarm system and incur periodic service fees. Another more cost-effective option is to install a DIY alarm system. For a relatively low cost, you can purchase and install an alarm system with various functionalities that can be managed from your mobile phone. If you’re interested in acquiring one, here’s a high-quality alarm system that you can install yourself in your home. It also offers a free mobile application in Spanish, through which you can control your alarm system at any time and instantly.
  2. Install a security camera: The best way to instantly know the real state of your home is through live video monitoring on your mobile phone or laptop. There are numerous affordable cameras on the market that offer this capability with high image quality, night vision, motion detection alerts, etc. If you decide to get a security camera, you can not only use it for the security of your home but also for other purposes such as monitoring young children or pets. We recommend a security camera at an unbeatable price in the following link. It has excellent features and can be wirelessly controlled from your mobile phone, PC, or tablet.
  3. Support from friends or family: A good way to verify that everything is in order in your home is to give a spare key to someone you trust who can check on your house and ensure that everything is fine. This person can also help with tasks such as watering plants, emptying the mailbox, slightly adjusting the blinds, etc.
  4. Contact with neighbors: If you live in an apartment building or a house with neighbors, you may have noticed that sounds can be easily heard between neighboring units. Therefore, if you have a trustworthy neighbor, you can inform them when you leave your home so that they can be alert and immediately notify you if anyone enters your property.


How to act in case of occupation?

In the event of a home occupation, you should immediately contact the police to report the crime. It is important to follow the proper legal procedures to ensure a quick and legitimate eviction of the squatters.

Although it may be tempting, do not cut off utilities to the squatters, attempt to change the locks, forcefully enter the property, or threaten or insult the squatters. These actions will work against you and can prolong the eviction process and result in financial claims for damages.

It should be noted that in cases of occupation, even if the damages and costs are eventually attributed to the squatters, it is unlikely that you will receive any compensation since squatters often disappear without a trace just before the resolution of the case. Furthermore, in any case, if they choose to resist until the last moment, they may simply declare insolvency, making it difficult for you to recover any damages. To protect yourself financially from these economic costs, the only solution is to have a comprehensive home insurance policy.



For most people, our home represents the majority of our personal assets, the culmination of a lifetime of effort and mortgage payments. Therefore, it is essential to take appropriate measures to protect it from burglars and squatters when leaving home for a few days. You don’t need to implement all the measures described above, but rather choose the ones that are most suitable for your personal situation and the characteristics of your home.