27 May 2015 – Expansión
The temporary expropriation by banks of homes in the process of eviction is unconstitutional. That was the ruling issued by the High Court (HC) following its in-depth analysis of the controversial decree law governing the Social Function of Housing, approved by the Government of Andalucía in June 2013, which was challenged by the Central Government.
Until the HC suspended this law, as a precautionary measure, 121 expropriation demands were filed, over a three-year period. The law was later reissued, although without any significant changes
According to the ruling, articles 1.3 and 53.1 of the regional law have been annulled. Previously, those articles imposed on the owner of houses “the duty to effectively use property for the residential purposes provided for by the law”, since the essential content of the rights of ownership pervade; an area “prohibited” for the decree law of the autonomous community. This law does not affect individuals.
For the same reason, the ruling issued by the HC declares the imposition of fines on financial entities that own uninhabited homes to be unconstitutional. To date, the Andalucían Government has imposed fines on various banks – including Popular for €5.8 million and BBVA for €1.6 million – for not putting empty subsidised (VPO) homes at the disposal of the municipal registries for claimants.
Encroachment of competencies
Alongside this ruling, the HC considers that the regional legislation deals with the state duties provided for by the Constitution, such as “coordinating the planning of economic activity”, whereby nullifying the second additional provision of the decree law “aimed at ensuring the right to adequate housing”.
The ruling also explains that “it constitutes a significant obstacle for the effectiveness of the measures taken by the central Government”, which issued legislation that provided for the possibility of suspending the introduction and promoting the creation of a social fund containing the properties owned by the entities to facilitate their lease to evicted persons.
In this sense, it is worth noting the agreement of disparate legal figures regarding the same reality – the suspension of the introduction of state legislation and the expropriation of the use under the regional legislation – “makes the joint application difficult”.
The HC also advises all of the regions that the State should determine “the extent of the public intervention” and indicate “certain guidelines in the mortgage market”, and should do so in such a way that “it is compatible with the proper functioning of that sector”.
As a result, this “prevents” the regions from “adopting provisions that affect this market in a more intense way”.
Original story: Expansión (by Lidia Velasco)
Translation: Carmel Drake