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House emergency: evictions risen by 100%

09 January, La Verità

The emergency risks to explode in the next months, but very little has been said about the matter so far. The unions raised the alarm: the number of families that can’t afford the pay their mortgages and are forced to leave their houses is growing. This is one of the consequences of the long economic recession that is now manifesting itself as a housing emergency. The situation is worsened by some measures by the Renzi administration that made easier for banks to take back properties of who is behind with payments.

There is some sad irony in the fact the phenomenon was registered for the first time in Florence, the hometown of the former PM, last April. Cgil, Sunia (the union for tenants) and Federconsumatori arranged a press conference to report the situation in the province. In one year, from 2015 to 2016, the auctioned houses went from 1,389 to 2,774, nearly 100% more.

“In the region of Tuscany, the situation is not much better”, wrote Corriere Fiorentino. “We’ve gone from 12,170 auction publications in 2015 to 17,045 in 2016. And the escalation doesn’t seem to stop”, explains Laura Grandi from Sunia, “only in Florence, in the first quarter of 2017, the foreclosures were 180”. According to the data of Cgil, 90% of who lost the house were Italian families, in most cases with children. The situation is not much different in other cities such as Milan. In the past few days, Leo Spinelli from Sicet Cisl declared to Repubblica that “the families evicted and forced by banks to leave their homes have gone from 180 in 2015 to 400 in 2017”. Also in this case, the increase is terrific: over 100%.

But what exactly is going on? Let’s try to explain. The increase of evictions in Italy is confirmed by the detailed report from Astasy srl, a Milan-based consulting firm of the sector, guided by Mirko Frigerio. Since 2015, Astasy has been publishing a report on real estate auctions in the country, providing data for each province. The new edition of the survey will be available shortly, but the last one explains well enough the current situation. “There have been over 267,323 evictions on yearly basis throughout Italy in 2016”, reads the report, “increasing by more than 18.33% from the previous year (2015)”.

Evictions were 225,891 in 2015. They rose to 267,323 in 2016 and they’re assessed around 290,000 in 2017. A very considerable increase. Lombardy led the chart of evictions in 2016 with 54,449 auctions, followed by Sicily, and then Piedmont (21,150 auctions), Lazio (20,190) and Veneto (19,373).

Obviously, not all the auctioned houses are sold and not everyone that can’t pay the mortgage has to leave home. These figures reflect, however, the health of the country. In its 2016 report, Astasy notes that “in 2016 some measures were introduced that speeded up further the eviction mechanism in Italy”. Regarding 2015, continue the experts, “we must keep in mind that the introduction of the decree 132/295 shortened up the collection times making possible, for the first time in Italy, to make offers below the auction starting price, even with a minimum limit of 25%”.

This is a sore spot. Basically, the Renzi administration changed the propriety eviction procedure, speeding up the collection times. This may be a good thing, for one point of view, since banks are constantly required to act on their impaired loans and selling properties is helpful for this purpose. However, the side effect is that more and more families are losing their homes.

In the past, before proceeding with the eviction of families, a series of steps were necessary. The whole procedure was managed by the judicial authorities, and the appeal to the police force was rather uncommon. The situation changed in 2015. “Now”, explains Leo Spinelli for Sicet, “the judge delegates the procedure to a custodian, who needs only a phone call to summon the police force and kick people out of their homes. Not only. In the past, before forcing people out of their homes, you had to wait for the house to be sold at auction. Whereas now the custodian can get people out of the property even before the house is put on the market”. It’s clear that the aim is to raise the property value, selling it already vacated. Finally, there is the issue over offers below the auction starting price. Before the new regulation, who had a debt with the bank could repay it almost entirely when the house was sold at auction. Sometimes there was even some money left to return to the property market.

Now, the situation has changed. “Now you lose the property”, says Spinelli, “and the money earned from the sale is not enough to repay the debt”. It’s easy to understand how this makes the emergency even worse: who is unable to pay the mortgage not only has to leave his home but also ends up with no money and with outstanding debts.

“Before, families could benefit from the long procedures to stay in the house a little longer”, explains Aldo Rossi of the Sunia headquarter. “Now, the custodian makes people leave before putting the house on auction. The social issue is evident: the root cause is that people are unable to pay their mortgage. These measures favour banks and there is no social protection for those losing their home”.

These are the consequence of the Renzi administration, that met the needs of creditors (banks in most of the cases) and penalised debtors (citizens struggling with payments).

Source: La Verità

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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