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How long does an eviction take in Spain?

If you are wondering how long an express eviction for non-payment of rent takes, the first answer should be that there is no fixed duration. That is, it never takes the same time, as throughout the process things are happening that make the process take longer and longer.

Therefore, we are going to see the usual cases and the extreme cases.

At the moment, the average duration of an eviction is between six and twelve months. Almost all cases (80% of cases) enter here. That is, here are the cases in which the tenant does not oppose the eviction lawsuit (and therefore there is no trial) and cases in which the tenant does oppose the lawsuit (there is a trial) but with a private attorney.

But there are cases in which the eviction can last a little over twelve months, and there are even cases in which it can last much longer, and can even reach two, three and even four years. And why is this happening? There are many variables that affect the duration of an eviction. Let's see the most common ones.

Around 20% of evictions take more than a year. The fact that the court has few staff is surely the most determining factor for the process to take longer. In these cases, when we send a filing to the court, it can take up to a month just for the official on duty to process it. And then there has to be a response to that filing.

Once the eviction lawsuit is filed, the first thing the court has to do is admit the lawsuit for processing, and sometimes it takes up to three months (or even more), although the normal time should be around one month. Once the court admits the lawsuit, it has to notify the tenant of the lawsuit, who has a period of ten days to oppose the claim. But she/he can also request free justice.

It is supposed that if the tenant requests free justice after the third day since she/he receives the request, she/he can do it, but the deadlines do not stop. But this is the theory, in practice, almost all courts suspend the process until the tenant is assigned a court-appointed attorney. Only the "bravest" courts do the right thing, that is, they do not suspend the deadlines.

So, in short, if the tenant asks for free justice (either before the third day or after), the process stops until a court-appointed lawyer is assigned. And this process takes an average of between two weeks and eight weeks (and sometimes even more). Once the tenant is assigned a lawyer, then the process continues and at that time they file their statement of opposition to the lawsuit .Once the tenant has opposed the lawsuit, then the court sets a new trial date.

And I said "new" because the normal thing is that the initial trial date (the one that came in the decree admitting the lawsuit) will normally have expired, so it will be necessary for the court to set another date. And here we depend again on the agenda of the court, that is to say, of the slowness of the court. The normal thing is that they put the trial in four or six weeks. After the trial is held, the judge has to issue the sentence.

There are sentences that are issued in two days and others take months. Normally, they take fifteen days. The sentence will condemn the tenant to be evicted and to pay the debt (and also to pay the costs of the eviction process).

If the tenant does not leave the house after the sentence (normally she/he does not leave), the court has to make the "lanzamiento" (which in Spain is the term used for the effective act of the eviction) on the date that has been set. And if there is no set date, then a new one must be set. This procedure can eat up another few weeks.

And it is that since the Covid pandemic began, a series of royal decrees have been issued that allow the tenant to stop the eviction process if they show that they are in a vulnerable situation. Currently, if the tenant proves to be vulnerable, the process would be suspended until December 31st, 2022.

All this procedure is regulated in several articles of the Civil Procedure Law (LEC), although perhaps the most decisive and in which more regulations appear is in article 440LEC.

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