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COVID-19

How to get help to pay your Spanish mortgage during coronavirus crisis

Spain has introduced a raft of measures designed to help those financially hit during the coronavirus crisis and that includes a moratorium on mortgage repayments for those who lose their jobs or suffer a drop in income as a result of covid-19 measures.

How to get help to pay your Spanish mortgage during coronavirus crisis
View of the Bank of Spain in an empty Madrid during coronavirus lockdown. Photo: AFP

These are outlined under the royal decree that approved the state of emergency, published in the official state bulletin on March 17th. 

Who can apply?

First of all it is only available to those who are resident in Spain and have mortgages with Spanish lenders and is only applicable to those struggling to meet payments on their primary place of residents.

So if you don’t live permanently in Spain or the mortgage is on a second home or one you let out to holidaymakers, then you won’t qualify for the moratorium outlined under state of emergency measures.

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People confined to their homes in Madrid. Photo: AFP

How to qualify?

There are basically four conditions you have to meet in order to qualify for mortgage relief on your primary residence:

–  You will need to prove that you have either lost your job or seen your income cut by at least 40 percent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

–   You will also need to prove that your total family income in the month prior to requesting relief did not surpass three times the IPREM household income reference. That means that if it currently stands at €537.84, your total family income must have been below €1,613.52 in February in order to qualify.

However if you have dependent children or an elderly relative (over 65) living with you, the base will be increased by 0.1 times the IPREM index (€53.78) per child (with two parents in the house) and 0.15 for single parents.

If a family member has a disability further allowances are made.

–   Another requirement is that your mortgage repayment plus basic expenses and monthly utility costs make up at least 35 percent of the net household income.

–   Finally your mortgage repayment as a percentage of your reduced household income must have multiplied by at least 1.3 in order to qualify for the moratorium.

How to apply:

You will need to apply for this mortgage holiday this direct with your mortgage lender, presenting proof of the above circumstances. 

You will also need to present your Nota Simple (property registration), your libro de familia or empadronamiento certificates for all those who live with you, your deeds of sale and mortgage deeds, and a debtor’s declaration of responsibility in compliance with the requirements stated in the royal decree.

Bear in mind that you can’t just walk into your branch and speak to your bank manager but will need to make an appointment over the phone. Attending the appointment is one of the exceptional circumstances under which you are allowed to leave the house.

Is there a deadline?

Those who qualify can apply for an interest-free mortgage repayment deferral which will last the duration of the state of emergency and can be applied for up to 15 days after the end of the decree.

The currently means you will have to make the application by May 3rd although that will be extended if the lockdown is continued beyond April 11th. 

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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