EVICTIONS CRISIS

Canary Islands join Andalusia in expropriation plan for empty homes

Companies will be forced to put up vacant properties for rental

Santa Cruz de Tenerife 23 ABR 2013 - 18:28 CET

Members of the Stop Evictions platform at a demonstration. / EFE

The regional government of the Canary Islands has announced that it will adopt similar measures to those taken by Andalusia to stem the tide of evictions sweeping the country.

Paulino Rivero, the regional premier, said the Canaries' housing laws would be altered as a matter of urgency in order to put the skids on 9,400 eviction orders currently in the pipeline in the archipelago. Rivero said the regional government will expropriate empty properties in the hands of banks and companies for a period of three years.

Taking its lead from the southern mainland region, the Canary Islands judiciary said the decree approved by the Socialist-led Andalusia administration is "responsible, constitutional and provides a solution to a social problem that is affecting thousands of families."

Catalonia this week also moved to impose a tax on banks and realtors in the region that fail to place empty properties on the market. Lenders own some 450,000 houses in the region, many resulting from repossession orders.

Rivero explained that the expropriations will be adjudged by the courts and a rental price fixed to which families will contribute 25 percent, with the rest to be picked up by the public coffers. "This resource will be funded through fines levied on those companies whose empty properties have not been declared available for rental, and, based on the leasing law, from deposits deriving from rentals in the Canary Islands," said the premier.

To enforce the measure, the regional administration is to draw up a list of the exact number of empty homes in the Canaries. As in Andalusia, the measure will not affect individual homeowners.

There have been an estimated 86,000 evictions in Andalusia since 2007 and 4,100 families lost their home last year in the Canaries.

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