Spain’s banks halt evictions after suicides

Spain’s major banks have agreed to suspend house evictions for two years for the most financially vulnerable homeowners after two suicides in as many weeks.

The Spanish Banking Association agreed the moratorium as officials from the conservative government held talks with Socialist opposition party members to agree on new rules governing evictions.

Public attention intensified after one homeowner facing eviction took her life on Friday, the second such case in two weeks.

The Spanish bank group said it had taken the decision after talks with the state.

Here in Ireland, homeowners in arrears who co-operate with the banks are given a 12-month stay on having proceedings issued against them, but Ross Maguire, barrister with New Beginning, said that stay was reaching an end for many.

“The mortgage arrears resolution process and a High Court decision of last year have helped struggling homeowners, but going forward, we are facing the possibility of large scale repossessions unless the banks put together a reasonable solution, ie large-scale write-down of debt,” said Mr Maguire.

Debate in Spain is centred on their rules for mortgage holders: Homeowners unable to make repayments may be evicted but also remain liable to repay whatever value is left on the mortgage.

Close to 400,000 people have lost their homes in this way over the past four years.

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