Evictions suspended for six months

Spanish government introduces measures to help tenants, while 60% of Catalan freelancers have been forced to suspend their activity

Sign advertising rentals, May 22, 2019 (by Sílvia Junyent Dalmau)
Sign advertising rentals, May 22, 2019 (by Sílvia Junyent Dalmau) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 31, 2020 05:44 PM

The Spanish government has approved a package of measures to help tenants affected by the coronavirus crisis, which includes a six-month suspension of evictions for tenants in vulnerable situations.

The decree announced on Tuesday also states that tenants of banks, investment funds, or large rental companies or landlords will be entitled to 50% debt relief, or a restructuring of debt to pay back over three years.

Those renting from small landlords - about 90-95% of the total - will be able to apply for microcredit: very small, commission-free, 0% loans from the public bank, the Official Credit Institute (ICO in Catalan and Spanish). These loans will have to be paid back within six years, with the possibility of a four-year extension.

Those who cannot afford to get the microcredit will be entitled to government support towards their rent, for up to 900 euros per month.

Property rental contracts that are due to expire will be extended for six months from the end of the state of alarm.

Spanish vice president and minister of social affairs Pablo Iglesias estimated that the new measure for tenants could benefit “more than half a million families.”

Mortgage moratorium extended and utilities protected

The decree on Tuesday also extended the moratorium on paying mortgages to self-employed people - at their premises and offices - who have been affected by the statement of alarm status. "Until the last day of the month when the state of alarm ends," banks will not be able to claim payment of the mortgage or interest, said Iglesias.

In addition, utility providers have been barred from cutting off water, gas or electricity supplies to any property. The measure was brought in initially to protect vulnerable households, but Iglesias said on Tuesday that utility companies "will not be able to suspend the service to any citizen in their place of residence."

Little work for self-employed

Meanwhile 60% of the 549,000 self-employed in Catalonia have been forced to suspend their activity due to the covid-19 crisis, according to the CTAC, a freelancers confederation with links to the UGT union.

Sandra Zapatero, president of the CTAC-UGT freelancers' union, demanded that "social security immediately return a part of the monthly freelancers' fee" that was charged on the last day of March, asking for the amount to be "proportionate" to people’s overall losses.

The economic shock plan approved by the Spanish government stated that self-employed people who had to shut up shop or showed a 75% drop in their income would be implicitly exempted from paying their monthly fee.

According to CTAC, self-employed workers should have paid only the portion commensurate with the time they were earning, until the day before the state of alarm. However, Social Security withdrew the full amount.