The Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation, Lucía Martín, has announced that Barcelona City Council has opened sanction proceedings against the Vauras Investment Fund for not having offered social rent to the six families in a situation of vulnerability who were occupying the building up until last Tuesday, 2nd March. The fine for each of these failures could amount to 90,000 euros and therefore the total penalty could reach up to half a million euros. However, Martín has explained that the City Council has no desire to impose these sanctions. “We do not want to collect these fines; we want to force the large organisations that have caused this housing emergency to share responsibility and to look for solutions that must include offering social rents. The search for solutions is not solely the responsibility of the City Council; the responsibility must also fall to these large owners who have hit the jackpot with the housing crisis which they have also caused.”
The possibility of fining the Vauras Investment Fund for its actions in the case of Bloc Llavors comes from Decree Law 17/2019, recently approved by the Government of the Generalitat. This decree obliges large landlords to offer social rents to those vulnerable families whose rental contracts have ended, who are facing eviction proceedings or who have occupied the property for more than six months without a contract. The latter is the case with the six vulnerable families who, until 2nd March, occupied Bloc Llavors on Carrer Lleida, in the district of Poble Sec. This decree, however, has been questioned by judges who have considered it to be simply an administrative rule without judicial effect, and it is this that has made possible the new eviction order executed today. Martín condemned the judges for making a “restrictive and inappropriate interpretation” of this decree and announced that the City Council will work to ensure it comes into effect.
She also criticised the Government of the Generalitat, who, “on the one hand passed a protective law and on the other, deployed a disproportionate police presence to make it easier for the law not to be applied”. She also complained that the strong police presence had hampered the activities of the municipal services in caring for the families when they should have been making it easier.