22 November 2016 – Expansión
The government team of the Town Hall of Barcelona, led by Ada Colau (pictured above), announced yesterday that it has fined Santander, BBVA and Sareb for letting four homes stand empty for two years or more. Each fine amounts to €315,000. The Town Hall also announced that it will reform the regulations (governing the sector), with the aim of simplifying the administrative procedures. Until now, each case has been completed in several phases, with a series of fines being imposed (amounting to €5,000, €10,000 and €15,000, respectively) before the final sanction.
The fines only affect legal entities and not small home owners. From now on, the two intermediate phases of the process will be eliminated, which means that the preliminary fine of €5,000 will still apply and then the final sanction will be imposed.
According to the council member for housing, Josep Maria Montaner, these changes should allow cases to be processed within five months, rather than within a year and a half, as is currently the case.
The sanctions imposed yesterday relate to cases opened in September 2015, three months after Colau was elected as the mayoress of the city. Twelve cases were opened at that time, and given that four of them are still in the same situation, the maximum fine has been imposed.
The fines announced yesterday affect two flats owned by Sareb, one owned by Santander and another one owned by BBVA. In the case of the latter, the entity chaired by Francisco González said that the property was made available for the Generalitat’s social rental housing stock last July, along with 1,800 other properties.
Montaner also took stock of the cases that have been processed so far. In total, 207 cases are currently open, of which 13 have been fined the first amount (€5,000); eight the second amount (€10,000); and two the third amount (€15,000). The council member stressed that the purpose is not “to raise funds”, but rather to ensure that empty homes are made available for the social rental housing stock, which is being managed by the Catalan capital’s Town Hall.
Original story: Expansión (by D. Casals)
Translation: Carmel Drake