Basque Government Invested €50.1 Million in New Social Housing Rental Units

6 January 2020 The Basque Government acquired a total of 506 flats over the past year for use in public housing. The regional government acquired the properties using public funds, budgetary surpluses and the Sustainable Financial Investments financial instrument used by Spanish local authorities. The properties are now under management by the Basque public company Alokabide.

The government invested a total of 50.1 million euros in the acquisitions. Specifically, the government acquired 70 VPO flats in the neighbourhood of Donostiarra in Morlans (€4.9 million), 32 VPOs in Santurtzi (€4.5 million), an advance on 84 social housing units in Ortuella (€2.4 million), 52 VPOs in Sestao (€7.6 million), 26 VPOs in Mungia and 52 VPOs in Amorebieta (€9.5 million), nine free homes owned by SAREB in several locations (742,000 euros), 36 VPOs in Legutio (€3.8 million), three homes in Bermeo (345,635 euros), 91 social housing units in the neighbourhood of Iturribarri in Getxo (€8.2 million) and 51 VPOs in the neighbourhood of Zerrajera in Arrasate (€7.8 million).

El Gobierno Vasco adquirió un total de 506 pisos durante el año pasado para uso como viviendas públicas. El gobierno regional adquirió las propiedades utilizando fondos públicos, excedentes presupuestarios y el instrumento financiero de inversiones financieras sostenibles utilizado por las autoridades locales españolas. Las propiedades están ahora bajo la gestión de la empresa pública vasca Alokabide.

El gobierno invirtió un total de 50,1 millones de euros en las adquisiciones. Específicamente, el gobierno adquirió 70 pisos VPO en el barrio de Donostiarra en Morlans (€ 4.9 millones), 32 VPO en Santurtzi (€ 4.5 millones), un anticipo de 84 unidades de vivienda social en Ortuella (€ 2.4 millones), 52 VPO en Sestao (7,6 millones de euros), 26 VPO en Mungia y 52 VPO en Amorebieta (9,5 millones de euros), nueve viviendas gratuitas propiedad de SAREB en varias ubicaciones (742.000 euros), 36 VPO en Legutio (3,8 millones de euros), tres viviendas en Bermeo ( 345.635 euros), 91 unidades de vivienda social en el barrio de Iturribarri en Getxo (8,2 millones de euros) y 51 VPO en el barrio de Zerrajera en Arrasate (7,8 millones de euros).

Original Story: La Vanguardia – P. R. D.

Translation/Summary: Richard D. Turner

Euskadi Will Be Allowed to Expropriate Homes That Remain Uninhabited for More Than Two Years

2 October 2018

The Constitutional Court endorsed fundamental aspects of the Basque housing law that the PP government appealed in 2016.

The Constitutional Court (TC) has endorsed the ability of the Basque Government (Euskadi) and regional municipalities to proceed with the forced expropriation of homes that remain uninhabited for a period of more than two years without just cause and are located in areas where there is a proven demand for public or social housing. The institutions will have the power to place the properties on the social housing rental market when a need is found in the areas they are located.

“This does not mean that the Government or the municipalities are going to move ahead with a wave of expropriations,” the Basque housing councillor, socialist Iñaki Arriola, stressed. The pronouncement by Spain’s highest court let a decree stand that would permit the forced rental of homes in areas that have remained unoccupied for an extended period and where there is an elevated demand for social housing. It is, said Arriola, a “balance between policies incentivising social housing and punitive measures in the case where properties, such as housing, are not adequately put to use.”

The latest census of empty and uninhabited homes in the Basque territory will be made public tomorrow by the councillor, who has so far declined to cite the figure. The previous report, with data for 2015, noted that there were 86,325 empty dwellings (8.3% of all Basque households). Of these, almost a third (32%) were used as seasonal housing, and the remaining 68% were classified as unoccupied. Of the 58,697 unoccupied homes, more than half (35,647) were not on the market to rent or sell.

Homes will not be considered unoccupied when they are second homes and when their inhabitants are temporarily absent due to relocations stemming for work, health, dependency and social emergency reasons that justify the absence, Arriola said. Before declaring a dwelling unoccupied, the relevant institution must open a file, summon the owners for a hearing and later determine whether the situation merits forcibly placing the property on the social housing market through a temporary expropriation.

The Government of the PP appealed the Basque Housing Law in 2016 before the Constitutional Court, requesting that the court rule that several of the law’s precepts exceeded the regional government’s powers and encroached on the powers of the Spanish state. The Basque law, which establishes the subjective right to dispose of a home, was approved in June 2015 on the initiative of the PSE with the support of EH Bildu and UPyD. The PNV and the PP voted against the measure.

The last census stated that there are 58,697 uninhabited homes in Euskadi, the Basque territory

The appeal by Rajoy’s government was based on the fact that the Basque legislation imposes a new form of regulatory oversight on the right to own property, stating that ownership brings with it the duty to inhabit the residence. The State Attorney challenged 13 articles and several sections, most of which refer to the definition of uninhabited housing and the regional government’s tools for dealing with those unoccupied households and which are considering to be in contravention of their social function as established by law.

Councillor Arriola stated that the TC’s ruling validates “without any restriction” the ability of Basque institutions to intervene with unoccupied dwellings that “do not fulfil a social function.” The regulations give the Basque Government and municipalities the ability to determine when a house is considered to be uninhabited and provides those institutions with the instruments “to encourage their occupation or penalise their lack of use.”

The Minister of Housing approved of the court’s ruling which, in his opinion, grants the Basque government the “full jurisdiction” to regulate the sector with legal certainty. The court, however, also ruled that the article granting financial institutions, their real estate subsidiaries and asset management entities the ability to subject property owners to forced expropriation for the temporary use of dwellings subject to eviction proceedings for foreclosure is unconstitutional.

Original Story: El País – Mikel Ormazabal

Photo: Luis Sevillano

Translation: Richard Turner

Basque Gov’t Sells Listed Property in San Sebastián for €10.4M

27 December 2017 – El Diario Vasco

The auction of the building located on Plaza de Bilbao in Donostia will generate 48% more than the asking price for the Basque Government.

The former headquarters of the Chamber for Urban Property, which has not been used for six years, was sold by the Basque Government last week for €10.4 million in an auction process. The firm that has acquired the attractive property is a shell company headquartered in Madrid, which was constituted a month ago with the aim of acquiring and operating real estate properties and which will likely convert the building into homes.

The property is one of the three buildings whose curved façades give Plaza de Bilbao its shape. They were designed between 1901 and 1905 by Pedro Arístegui and Carlos Ibero as the finishing touch to the thoroughfare comprising Estación del Norte and the María Cristina bridge. Although the internal layouts of the three homes are different, the façades are the same and the Special Protection Plan for Constructed Urban Properties (Peppuc) protects them – they have been granted grade B status (…).

Ownership of the property was transferred from the (Spanish) State to the Basque Autonomous Community when it became the offices of the Chamber of Urban Property and, following the liquidation thereof in 2006, the building has been in disuse since 2011. The property comprises seven storeys (a ground floor, five normal floors and an attic) and has a surface area of 324 m2 per floor (except the attic, which is slightly smaller). A study performed by the Chamber of Urban Property at the time estimated its economic value at around €18 million.

The Treasury Department of the Basque Government decided to divest this property in light of the expenses that it was generating without any prospects for future use (…).

Seven companies submitted bids, after having deposited a guarantee of €350,347 (equivalent to 5% of the tender amount) and on Thursday last week the bid envelopes were opened and the sale was confirmed.

According to sources, the firm that has acquired the building is a shell company, headquartered in Madrid, and constituted on 21 November 2017, that goes by the name Boyton Invest S.L. (…). The price paid, €10,375,000, is 48.06% higher than the initial asking price (…).

Original story: El Diario Vasco (by Aingeru Munguía)

Translation: Carmel Drake