Since the start of the year, the State moratorium on evictions, along with the rest of the regulatory and negotiation instruments of the municipal housing services and the task of the neighbours’ movements, have made it possible to suspend 9 of every 10 planned evictions of families in situations of vulnerability in the city. Specifically, between January 18 and February 28, the Municipal Anti-Evictions Unit has worked on 450 eviction processes of families in situations of vulnerability, of which 418 have finally not been executed, representing 93% of the total. In addition, the entry into force of Royal Decree-Law nº 37/2020 has permitted 80% of the orders to be suspended before the set date, and in regard to the total number of suspensions, 77% are not being executed thanks to mediation agreements directly related with RDL 37/2020. The Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation, Lucía Martín, has spoken about the importance of the work of the City Council and the neighbours to prevent these evictions. “If it hadn’t been for the mediation and accompaniment processes and the work of the neighbours, the evictions would have been carried out,” she has said.
In one-half of the stopped evictions the proprietor is a large landlord, which demonstrates the importance of having legal tools that oblige them to take joint responsibility for finding a solution to the housing emergency, offering a social rent to vulnerable families. This would make it possible to reduce the number of evictions, guarantee many families’ right to housing and release human and public economic resources which could be allocated to reaching agreements with small landlords. Martín has recalled that “the large landlords are among those that profited most from the housing policies of recent years and are behind 50% of the evictions. Therefore, they have to take joint responsibility.”
The moratorium, in fact, acts as an incentive for small landlords to reach agreements. Its principal virtue is that it permits gaining time for the teams of professionals to find an appropriate solution and prevent families from passing through the trauma of eviction. “If it weren’t for this moratorium we would be working with less capacity of reaction. It isn’t a solution but with it we gain time and the family doesn’t have to pass through that traumatic moment. It allows us to stop the blow and search for solutions,” Martín has explained. The achievement of agreements is precisely one of the main causes of the suspension of evictions, which reinforces the need to institute obligatory mediation in order to enlarge this figure and reach beneficial solutions for all the parties involved, particularly in situations with small landlords.
For all of these reasons, the Barcelona City Council has forwarded to the central Government a proposal for a Housing Act with the aim of maintaining and enlarging the guarantees which the present moratorium offers to the families in situations of vulnerability. It has also requested that the moratorium be extended until the new Act enters into force. “The moratorium is indispensable, but it isn’t a solution. It’s a prior step to an Act that will establish obligatory mediation in the cases of evictions concerning vulnerable families and will make large landlords take joint responsibility. Until this Act arrives, the moratorium is indispensable,” Martín has stated, also recalling that the current housing emergency has not been caused by the Covid-19 virus but is a chronic situation which the pandemic has aggravated.
418 stopped evictions, half of them from homes of large landlords
The 450 eviction orders of families in situations of vulnerability that have taken place between January 18 and February 28 have affected 1,592 persons, 37% of them minors. The principal reasons that have permitted the suspension of 418 of the 450 cases (93%) have been agreements by way of municipal mediation (77%), agreements ranging from the payment of rent instalments, postponement of the eviction to manage the entry of the home into the Affordable Rent Pool, temporary postponement of the eviction to facilitate access to other housing resources or the suspensions of the property or the courts, among others. Most evictions derive from situations of irregular occupations of empty homes owned by small landlords, a situation not covered by the moratorium.
The situations of the 418 cases which it has been possible to halt respond to the following situations:
- 55% non-payment of rent
- 32% irregular occupations of empty homes owned by large landlords
- 13% expiries of rent agreements