Tarrasa to Punish Banks Possessing Empty Houses

The City Council of Tarrasa introduced yesterday the first three fines, being imposed on the banks within the city of Barcelona with portfiolios in which the empty houses appear. The fees are equal to 5.000 Euros and the City Council aims at making the entities hand the keys over to a tenant or grant the house to the social renting stock which the city has created in case of emergency as a response to the growing number of evictions.

If the home remains empty, the fine may even go up to half a million of Euros. The City Council, governed by an entente of PSC and ICV-EUiA, started to consider the possibility of adminishing the banks few years ago. (…)

Tarrasa is the first Catalonian city to fine the financial institutions as a consequence of repossessing or the investments stagnating since the period of the real estate bubble, disposing of the deserted property and having not fulfill the corporate requirements. The Council assures that other cities expressed willingness to follow the steps of Tarrasa.

The idea is a part of a proposal of the Platform of Mortgage Affected of Terrasa, the precursor of claiming two blocks of flats belonging to bailed-out cash offices in order to make them available for the families in need.

“The target is not to raise funds but to make use of the empty flats. They are disputable, most of them do not meet the demands, with the bills unpaid and they could be occupied in irregular terms. Moreover, the demand for affordable houses is huge.” explains Carme Labòria, the Deputy Mayor of Tarrasa.

The City Council, administered by Jordi Ballart, has issued 725 notices since May, each one for a house detected as uninhabited and owned by a bank. It is a drop in the sea, as they estimate there might be 5.000 empty houses in Tarrasa.

At the moment, the Council does not reveal the names of the financial institutions punished. At the beginning of the investigation process, Bankia, Sabadell and Santander were said to figure on the check list.

Tarrasa´s council officers are conscious that the banks might raise objections. (…) They promise to carry on with the fight against the banks not renting the property, as they will be charged with a tax of 800 Euros for each trial ran this month.

The Deputy Mayor informs that “between 80 and 85%” of the banks made allegations. The rest have not replied to the notice. The explications given by banks which responded are usually that they have just rented or sold the flat or cannot find a buyer.

Many owners decided to grant the management of the property to the City Council or rent them knowing about the upcoming punishment process, although they constitute a very low percentage. (…) “The banks hold a part of responsibility for the present situation and the society calls for answers” – Labòria adds.

Source: El Mundo