MADRID – Spain approved a two-year suspension of evictions Thursday for some needy homeowners unable to pay their mortgages, but activists said the government failed to address the larger issue of how those who give up their homes may still remain indebted.
Evictions have suddenly became one of the most sensitive topics in Spain’s financial drama, and government officials acted less than a week after a Spanish woman facing eviction killed herself by jumping from an apartment balcony. They are trying to reverse or at least delay a trend that has seen more than 371,000 mortgage eviction orders issued since the financial crisis hit the country in 2008.
The government, which is still preparing a broader overhaul of the country’s mortgage and property laws, said it hoped to shield those most in need by suspending mortgage payments for mortgage holders with annual income of $18,400 or less after taxes, or those with expired unemployment benefits.
But the government tacked on conditions for those wanting an eviction suspension. To qualify, they must have more than three children, or have children under the age of 3, or be elderly, or have disabled people in the household, or be single parents with two children, or be victims of domestic violence.
They can stay in their homes for two years without paying their mortgages, but it’s unclear what will happen after that if they have still been unable to find work in a country where unemployment stands at 25 percent.
Part of the problem is that mortgage laws in Spain are particularly harsh. People unable to make payments who are evicted still remain liable to repay huge amounts because the value of their home or apartment has plunged during the crisis.