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The gamer versus the granny: Unlikely Andorra battle over housing rights

The Spanish streamer David Cánovas
The Spanish streamer David Cánovas Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Laura Llach
Published on Updated
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A Spanish streaming star bought an apartment building, but couldn't get rid of the last stubborn tennant, an 80-year-old woman.

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Popular Spanish streaming star David Cánovas, known as TheGrefg, is embroiled in a legal battle in the courts of Andorra with an 80-year-old woman he is trying to evict.

Cánovas, 26, amassed a fortune from his YouTube videos and Twitch content, where he has a combined audience of more than 29 million subscribers who follow along as he plays video games, showcases his lifestyle and comments on football games. 

In the summer of 2020, Cánovas bought a block of flats in the Andorran village of Escaldes-Engordany through his real estate company Grefito SLU.

When the previous owner sold the property, he asked the neighbours to leave, and Cánovas' company also stopped renewing the tenants' contracts.

They all eventually left, except for one tenant, an 80-year-old woman who had lived in the same flat for almost 36 years.

Having lived in the property since 1989, the woman's tenancy agreement was a verbal agreement for an indefinite period - predating the country's current Tenancy Act of 1993 - which entitled her to a life tenancy.

While the company was able to stop renewing the other tenants' annual contracts, it was unable to do the same for the old woman, who is clinging on to her home.

FILE: Image of mountains and skiing in Andorra
FILE: Image of mountains and skiing in AndorraCanva

An 'uninhabitable' apartment

The dispute between the two parties has become so tense that the Grefito company, in order not to lose its financial investment, decided to start the renovation work with the old woman still living in the house.

"The apartment is completely uninhabitable. Many of the windows and shutters have been torn out and the Andorran winter is very cold," Pere Cristòfol, the woman's lawyer, told Euronews.

The first steps in the renovation of the building turned it into a "refrigerator" because there was nothing to insulate it from the cold air, and the frozen pipes did not allow running water.

The lawyer says that at the end of 2022 they managed to get the High Court of Justice to order the company to replace the windows, Cánovas's company appealed and to date they are still waiting for a decision.

A few months later, in April 2023, the company opened a new front in the courts and applied to evict the elderly woman. The judge granted the request, although the woman and her lawyer have appealed the decision.

"The trial took place on 11 July, and on 18 August the verdict was handed down. I have never seen a case go through so quickly in my entire career," says Cristòfol.

"We would like the judiciary to act with the same speed when the applications are made by my client as when they are made by the opposing party. They do not act with the same diligence," he adds.

Streaming star defends his company

Following the news of the legal battle between the elderly woman and the streamer, and in the face of criticism on social networks, Cánovas issued a statement late Monday accusing the woman of an "abusive occupation".

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The company has claimed that the elderly woman has not paid rent for many months, but her lawyer vehemently denies this.

"She continues to pay the rent every month, otherwise she would not have been able to appeal the court decision. The thing is that the company does not want to receive the money since January 2021," says the lawyer, who points out that this could be a form of pressure from the owners. That is why his client is paying the rent to the court every month.

In the same statement, Cánovas assures that he does not personally manage the company, which means that he had no knowledge of the treatment she received.

He also claims that the woman "abusively" occupies two apartments and does not live in the property.

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"It's not that she doesn't live in the flat, it's just that on very cold days she can't sleep there. It's like someone taking the wheels off your car and asking why you don't use it. How can she sleep there in those conditions?" says the lawyer.

As for the "abusive occupation", Cristòfol explains that the two flats were joined together when his client first moved into the building.

Euronews contacted the well-known Spanish streamer for a direct comment, but did not receive a reply.

However many of his fans have been leaving comments about the case underneath his videos. "Grefg you're the one who made life difficult for this granny for four years" said one comment, while another said "leave my grandmother in peace!"

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