Spanish banks suspend evictions for homeowners in 'extreme financial need'

Tuesday 13 November 2012 17.13
People chat close to the place where Amaia Egana took her own life in Barakaldo
People chat close to the place where Amaia Egana took her own life in Barakaldo

Spanish banks are suspending evictions for the next two years for homeowners "in extreme financial need", amid public uproar following the suicides of two people facing eviction.

An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain's property market crashed in 2008.

There have been demonstrations in Spain, with an organisation called "Platform for Mortgage Victims" blocking access to homes to prevent evictions.

The issue gained prominence after two suicides in the past three weeks.

Former politician, 53-year-old Amaia Egana, threw herself out a fourth-floor window as officials arrived to evict her, and a newsstand owner in Granada hanged himself under similar circumstances last month.

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said action was vital to avoid evictions at a time when huge numbers of homes, built during a frenetic property boom before 2008, lie unoccupied.

"In Spain right now, we have nearly a million empty housing units. In this situation, the government and the economy ministry ... has to take steps so that no family in good faith goes without a home. This is our commitment," he said.

Public pressure prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to call for officials from his conservative People's Party and the opposition Socialists to speed up negotiations on reforming the eviction laws during talks yesterday.

Fans at a Primera Liga soccer match on Saturday protested about the fate of Ms Egana, who killed herself in the Basque town of Barakaldo, and countless others who are losing their homes.

"They're not suicides. They're murders. The banks and politicians are accomplices. Stop the evictions!" read a banner held up by supporters of Rayo Vallecano, which plays in a working class district of Madrid.

Heads of the economy departments of both main parties were expected to look at the possibility of granting moratoriums on mortgage payments for families in dire straits and to change the legal proceedings that lead up to an eviction.

However, the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) said its members had already agreed with the government last week to suspend eviction cases for two years for those most in need.

This showed "...the commitment of the AEB's members, for humanitarian reasons and because of their social responsibility, to stop evictions during the next two years in those cases of extreme need", it said in a statement yesterday.

Protesters say this will not go far enough given thousands will face difficulties in the next few months.

Keywords: spain, evictions
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