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SUICIDE

Pensioners’ suicides shake up Spanish eviction vote

A retired couple in Spain killed themselves on Tuesday because they faced eviction, police have said, as lawmakers considered legislation to save ruined homeowners from being thrown into the street.

Pensioners' suicides shake up Spanish eviction vote
Protestors in Barcelona on Tuesday demonstrate against evictions. Photo: Lluis Genes/AFP

In the latest in a series of suicides reportedly linked to evictions, the couple, aged 68 and 69, killed themselves in their home in Calvia on the island of Mallorca, a police spokesman who asked not to be named told AFP.

Hours later in Madrid, members of parliament agreed to debate a citizens' motion to protect poor homeowners from eviction  a fate faced by hundreds of thousands in Spain.

The lower house of parliament agreed to debate the bill after lawmakers of the ruling conservative Popular Party threw their weight behind it despite earlier resistance, the party's parliamentary spokesman Alfonso Alonso said.

In response to popular protests and reported suicides, Spain's government in November passed a two-year moratorium on evictions – but campaigners insist that it go further.

The bill proposes to change the law to end evictions and to allow insolvent homeowners to write off their debts by surrendering their home.

Under the current law, a bank can pursue a mortgage holder for the remaining balance of a loan if the value of the seized property isn't sufficient.

The new bill was brought to parliament by PAH, a popular campaign for housing rights that gathered 1.4 million signatures on a petition demanding that it be debated by lawmakers.

"People who undergo eviction not only lose their homes but get saddled with a large part of the debt, condemned for life to be excluded from credit," the petition read.
 

The police spokesman said the couple in Mallorca "left a suicide note" saying they committed suicide because they could not pay their debts and were soon going to be evicted.

PAH says hundreds of thousands of people face eviction in the crisis brought on by the collapse of Spain's housing market in 2008.

The resulting recession has driven the unemployment rate up to 26 percent, leaving many unable to pay mortgages on houses that are often now worth much less than purchased.

The PAH has campaigned by turning up in crowds outside the homes of evictees and sitting on their doorsteps to try to stop police and bailiffs from carrying out the eviction orders.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside parliament on Tuesday as lawmakers prepared to vote on whether to accept the bill.

A handful of PAH supporters were expelled from the gallery of the chamber when they burst out shouting after the Popular Party announced its backing for the bill.

"Yes we can!" they yelled. Others also demonstrated outside the Popular Party's headquarters in Barcelona.
 

They waved signs condemning evictions and the banks that many blame for the crisis.

 "Stop finance genocide," read a yellow sign held by protestors in Barcelona. "These are not evictions," yelled the protestors in Madrid. "They are murders."

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MOVING TO SPAIN

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 

Barcelona

In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

READ ALSO – Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Madrid

In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  

Valencia

In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

READ ALSO – Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Airbnb

While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.

Vrbo

Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.

Housesitting

If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options. 

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