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Government evades Spanish Court suspension and passes anti-eviction law

The Catalan bill oriented toward avoiding evictions and facilitating mediation when the families involved are at social risk has been modified in order to dodge the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) suspension. The Catalan Government passed a new draft this Tuesday which aims to put to use the stockpile of empty apartments and guarantee the relocation of those families who can’t pay the rent. “The present text is legally impeccable” stated Catalan Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Meritxell Borràs. However, she admitted that the “Spanish Government is likely to put a spoke in our wheels”. The Government aims for the Parliament to pass the draft immediately, so that it can come into force this October. 

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04 October 2016 06:44 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan Government passed this Tuesday the bill oriented toward avoiding evictions and facilitating mediation when the families involved are at social risk. The document establishes alternative mechanisms to those suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) in May. The draft bill exchanges the mandatory cession of empty apartments for temporary expropriation of empty apartments which belong to banks. The bill also suggests an alternative system to relocate families which will be based on a social rent for three years instead of the initial mandatory social rent. “The present text is legally impeccable” stated Catalan Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Meritxell Borràs. However, she admitted that the “Spanish Government is likely to put a spoke in our wheels”. 


The aim of the bill is to put to use the stockpile of empty apartments in Catalonia. Thus, the document foresees the temporary expropriation of those empty apartments which belong to financial entities in order to use them for social purposes. The renovation of the building, if required, will be charged to the owner – the bank which will compensate the cost of expropriation.

The new proposal also establishes the obligation to relocate those people at social risk who have lost their home. The banks will have to offer a social rent for a period of three years, although this period could be extended, for those evicted. Initially, the law urged the banks to offer this social rent indefinitely but the TC considered it to “interfere with the right to property” and suspended this precept.

The bill also foresees the creation of committees throughout the territory oriented toward mediating between those families who are in debt and financial entities, in order to address these situations. These committees will gather together representatives from the Government, social organisations, legal authorities, city halls and banks.  

A “legally impeccable” text

“We are very calm. If they don’t look for political reasons, there won’t find any in the juridical field”, stated Catalan Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Meritxell Borràs, referring to a possible response from the Spanish Government to the bill. Borràs, who described the proposal as “very solid” and “legally impeccable”, admitted that the reform has been done “against the clock”. Borràs also expressed the executive’s intention to pass the draft immediately, so it can be discussed and approved by the Parliament and for the law to come into force this October.

The TC suspended some of the core articles

The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) accepted in May the appeal presented by Spain’s executive calling for the suspension of some articles of the Catalan law against energy poverty. In particular, the magistrates cautionarily suspended 8 articles mainly oriented toward avoiding evictions and facilitating mediation when the families involved are at social risk.

By accepting the appeal presented by the Spanish executive, the TC put on hold the decisive role that the Catalan law gave to mediation, especially in those cases in which the non-payment of rent or mortgage could lead to evictions. It also postponed the possibility that the Catalan Government could start specific judicial procedures to resolve matters related to evictions.

The precepts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9 of Article 5 of Law 24/2015 were also cautionarily suspended. This article foresees that those particular or legal entities who acquired an apartment through foreclosure would have to offer alternatives based on social renting to those families who couldn’t afford to pay the rent before starting any judicial procedure.

The Spanish executive also took before the court Article 7, which set out that the administration would be able to proceed to obligatory cession of apartments which have been empty for more than three years and which belong to legal entities, or in the case that there was at least one family at social risk in the local area.

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  • Catalan Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Meritxell Borràs, during a press conference (by ACN)

  • Catalan Minister for Public Administration and Housing, Meritxell Borràs, during a press conference (by ACN)