Spain approves new eviction law

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Parliament on Thursday approved a new mortgage law it hopes will calm a national outcry over the dramatic increase in evictions in recent years, but anti-eviction lobbyists said the law was insufficient.

Repossessions because of mortgage nonpayment have soared since Spain’s economic crisis began in 2008. Property registrars say some 30,000 primary residence owners were evicted last year.

Spaniards are angry that most people still have to pay off their mortgage debt even after eviction.

The new law offers those with payment difficulties more opportunities to keep their houses, but ignored opponents’ demand for an insolvency law to allow defaulters to simply turn in the keys to their homes.

Some 150 people staged a protest outside Parliament but police set up barriers to keep them well away from the building.

The bill was approved on the strength of the governing Popular Party’s absolute majority with opposition parties all voting against.

The Popular Party yielded to popular pressure to usher in the new law after the Stop Evictions group presented more than 1 million signatures calling for change.

At least five people have committed suicide in Spain since last fall because they had been evicted or were about to be forced out of their repossessed homes.

Stop Evictions platform spokeswoman Ada Colau said they felt totally deceived by the new law and that the almost protest daily protests would continue.

The European Court of Justice last month ruled that Spain’s harsh property repossession laws violated EU laws on consumer protection. It was not immediately clear if the new law was in full compliance with EU legislation.

Spain is stuck in its second recession in just over three years and has a 26 percent unemployment rate.

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