Spain slammed over home evictions record

International NGO Human Rights Watch released a detailed report on Wednesday in which they accuse the Spanish government of taking "insufficient action to alleviate the impact of the housing and debt crisis" for thousands of evicted families.

Spain slammed over home evictions record
“The Spanish government needs to take a hard look at its policies," HRW says. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

The 81-page report, “Shattered Dreams: Impact of Spain’s Housing Crisis on Vulnerable Groups,” documents the struggle of evicted families as well as the response from Spanish banks to a grilling questionnaire by author Judith Sunderland, giving them a chance to explain how they’re making amends for their “irresponsible and unfair terms in mortgage contracts” before and during the country’s credit crunch.

“It was so easy to buy, and rents were high and (apartments) hard to come by,” Norma del Pilar Llano Oyos, who bought her apartment in 2005, told Sunderland.

The study details how two Royal Decree Laws introduced by Spain’s ruling Popular Party helped protect certain groups from eviction and  also encouraged Spanish banks to offer nearly 6,000 properties to those who had lost their homes.  

However, Sunderland highlights how the criteria for benefitting from these measures are “arbitrary and do not comport with international law”, such as offering moratorium on evictions to a two-parent household with a 3-year-old child but not to one with a 4 year old.

The detailed report also describes how the fact that “home repossession by the bank eliminates only a part of the debt” and that access to personal bankruptcy is virtually impossible, leaving thousands of families crippled by over-indebtedness.  

“Governments should be judged on how they manage the human fallout of the economic crisis, not just on macroeconomic indicators,” Sunderland concludes.

“The Spanish government needs to take a hard look at its policies, and take into account a broader range of people facing social exclusion due to mortgage defaults.”

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