March 9, 2020 / 12:34 PM / a month ago

Spanish government to restrict evictions of tenants who miss rent payments

MADRID, March 9 (Reuters) - Spain’s left-wing government will restrict evictions of tenants who cannot pay rent, particularly in areas such as Madrid and Barcelona where the real estate market is particularly tense, two government sources told Reuters on Monday.

This will be one of the first measures geared towards protecting tenants by the new government, which made accessible housing a priority in its coalition manifesto.

“The government has decided to take measures to place brakes on another social scourge this country suffers: evictions due to unpaid rent,” one source said.

“We will take the necessary measures to avoid this kind of eviction, especially in areas of the market where renting is under pressure and where major property owners dedicate themselves to real estate investment.”

The second source said the measure would fall under the broader reform of Spain’s Urban Lease Law, expected to pass before the summer.

Neither source could spell out in detail how the government planned to make it harder to evict non-paying tenants.

The same sources said the government would prolong a ban on evicting vulnerable home-owners who miss mortgage payments - due to expire on May 15 - after announcing such evictions dropped by 25.1% in 2019, reaching their lowest level in 12 years.

United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said last month that Spain was facing housing problems of “stunning proportions”, affecting people already struggling without jobs and sufficient benefits.

The government said last month that it will publish an index of nationwide rental prices, which could be a first step towards enabling rent controls.

Spain’s real estate market suffered deeply during the economic crisis. (Reporting by Belen Carreno, Writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette, Editing by Ingrid Melander and Ed Osmond)

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