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HISTORY OF CITIES – HERITAGE
RIGHT TO HOUSING
Since 1978, the right to housing is written in the spanish Constitution :
Article 47 : All Spaniards have the right to have a decent and appropriate. The government will help create the necessary conditions and establish adequate standards to make this right effective, regulating land use in accordance with the general interest to prevent speculation. The community will benefit from the gains that are generated by the action of urban bodies.
Article 50 refers particularly to rights of citizens of older age, including access to housing.
Articles 148 and 149 state that each of the established Autonomous Communities and two Autonomous Cities assume exclusive jurisdiction for housing, in their respective Autonomous Statutes Organization Acts, without prejudice to the exclusive jurisdiction of the State for the basis for and coordination of the general planning of economic activity and for the basis for regulations concerning credit.
While land management, urban planning and housing come exclusively within the powers of every autonomous community, in some specific cases the articles related to housing rights are further developed (Catalonia – Andalusia – Balearic Islands – Valencian Community – Aragon – Castile-Leon).
In respect to the implementation of housing rights, the relevant national laws are the following:
the Royal Decree 2066/2008 of 12 December;
the State Housing Plan and Rehabilitation (2009-2012);
the Act No. 29/1994 of 24 November 1994 on tenancy in urban areas;
the 1989 Spanish Civil Code;
the Decree No. 2114/1968 of 24 July 1968 adopting the regulations on officially subsidized housing;
the Act No. 57/1968 of 27 July 1968 on the receipt of early payments for the construction and sale of housing – partially amended by Act No. 38/1999 of 5 November 1999 on building regulations;
the Forced Expropriation Act of 16 December 1954 and the implementing Regulations of 26 April 1957;
the Mortgage Act of 8 February 1946 and the implementing Regulations of 14 February 1947.
Spain has not ratified the Revised European Social Charter of 1996 nor signed or ratified the Additional Protocol of 1995. The latter means that Spain cannot be brought into court for failing to implement the measures required to comply with Article 31 of the Revised Charter through the collective complaint mechanism.
C’est précisément le manque d’outils efficaces dans la législation nationale pour protéger le droit au logement qui a obligé les avocats à utiliser les instruments judiciaires existants au niveau européen et au niveau international.
It is precisely the lack of effective tools in national legislation to protect the right to housing that has forced lawyers to use existing judicial instruments at European and international level.
With regard to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Committee on ESCR issued strict recommendations in 2012 regarding the non-development of the right to housing in Spain. Two points were highlighted: mortgage foreclosures and the relevant procedural law, and the lack of social housing. The right to housing is guaranteed in the Spanish Constitution (1978). Article 47 stipulates that one of the “guiding principles of social and economic policy” is the right of Spanish citizens to have decent and appropriate housing. These guiding principles do not benefit from the judicial protection enshrined in the Constitution for “fundamental rights”.
The 2018 shadow report by civil society organizations highlights these same issues.
The Committee’s Concluding Observations on ESCR in 2018 invite Spain to establish an effective national mechanism for the implementation and follow-up of the Committee’s recommendations and opinions. It also calls on Spain to adopt a legislative framework that establishes adequate procedures for the implementation of evictions, including the principles of reasonableness and proportionality, as well as procedural guarantees for the persons concerned.
A story of the financialization of housing or how mortgage borrowing and an unfair law allowed 500,000 evictions in Spain
Source: Anne-Sophie Dupont – RBDH 2017
ACT 1: The Franco regime boosts the real estate sector
Under the Franco regime, Spanish urban policies were largely guided by the interests of the real estate (including developers and builders) and financial sectors.
They have – notably through corrupt methods – led to the reassignment of land originally intended for the development of green spaces or other infrastructure, the award of public works including large additional costs, the construction of large housing estates and airports, the destruction of existing assets, and the construction of housing beyond the available financial resources.
The highly speculative real estate market was based on the increase in the price of land to make it buildable.
Thus, the construction of housing and certain types of infrastructure by the private sector was more an investment than a desire to provide households with a basic necessity. In the early 1990s, Spain experienced a period of recession and continued to encourage the construction sector.
Gradually, housing policy has therefore focused on access to private ownership through the development and expansion of access to credit and various tax relief schemes, promoting the growth of the financial and real estate sectors.
During the first half of the 20th century, the majority of the Spanish housing stock was still made up of rentals. Private property then became the main mode of housing.
ACT 2: 1997-2007 – intensification of real estate activities and massive household debt to access home ownership
From 1997 onwards, construction activity and therefore financial operations intensified: in 10 years, 6.6 million homes were built, making Spain one of the European countries with the highest rate of housing per capita. Once again, these constructions did not meet residential demand, but rather speculative logic. They were often located in areas far from cities or on the coast (tourist buildings). Despite the increase in the supply of disposable housing and the decline in real household incomes, housing prices have risen (even tripled) in a completely artificial way.
The intensification of real estate activity has finally led to a greater precariousness of the most vulnerable tenants: multiplying situations of discrimination, under-housing, overcrowding, and inciting some landlords to harass tenants of housing to make them leave… In addition, unprotective legislation on the lease allowed blind rent increases every 5 years. Low social security and small pensions do not allow people to pay too high a rent, so debt for the purchase of housing has become a way for average families to meet their basic needs, supported by a political and financial discourse that equates renting with wasting savings.
Household debt has risen from 55% to 130% of available budgets!
The credits made it possible to finance up to the total cost of housing over a period of 30 to 50 years. In 2007, more than ¾ of the Spanish population was homeowners (with or without outstanding loans). The advertising discourse of credit agencies encouraged indebtedness, discouraging the likelihood of the real estate bubble bursting, rising interest rates and devaluation of housing. Banks also assured their customers that house prices would not fall. These factors have led to the conclusion of many mortgage contracts, including for low-income households.
ACT 3: Housing financialization and the housing crisis
This process of intensification of real estate and financial operations is called “financialization of housing”.
In general, the effects of the 2007 US subprime crisis were not long in coming: the real estate sector on which employment was based was affected by the decline in international credit and the rise in interest rates. The Spanish unemployment rate, which did not exceed 9% in 2007, rose to a peak of around 27% in 2013. The people most affected by the crisis were young people and immigrants. As a result, many households were unable to pay their rent or credit and overall, families’ housing budgets increased dramatically.
Since 2007, 731,512 mortgage foreclosures and more than 500,000 evictions have taken place.
- Housing and Land Rights Violation Database in each country (Housing and Land Network): http://hlrn.org/welcome_violation.php#.VD-IVCi7_vQ
- Zero Evictions Campaign (International Alliance of Inhabitants): http://www.habitants.org/zero_evictions_campaign
- Data sets on agricultural land grabbing in the world (GRAIN): https://www.grain.org/bulletin_board/entries/4429-new-data-sets-on-land-grabbing
- The Online Public Database on Land Deals – Global Observatory (Land Matrix): http://landmatrix.org/en/
SOME INTERESTING PRACTICES
MARINALEDA : Since the late ’70s, a small town in Andalusia saw a democratic utopia city Marinaleda. It is an agricultural cooperative where workers are paid minimum wage, but where access to land and housing is possible at the lowest price. It is possible, for example (2013), to rent a house in good condition (90SM) for 15 euros per month. One condition: each one has to participate in the construction of its housing, the horizontal philosophy behind all activities Marinaleda. Video : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22701384 or from PressTV : http://www.presstv.cz/
- PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING : The Participatory Budget in Seville (with just over 700,000 inhabitants) began in 2004, and since then has been an annual process. The victory in 2011 of a right-
wing party (Partido Popular) over the socio-democrat and leftist coalition that had launched the PB resulted in an interruption of the process. This raises again the issue of how to address discontinuity, and beyond that, how to avoid these interruptions, which usually result in the loss of the institutional and social memory of the experience. To know more about the Participatory Budgeting concept or to read the report made by Prof Y. Cabannes (IIED 2014) : http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/10713IIED.pdf
Social and economic aspects
Spanish real estate crisis refers directly to the mismanagement of mortgages and the role of banks and governments. There will 6,000,000 empty homes, which refers to the Spanish Formula “Gente sin casas casas y gente sin” ( people without homes and homes without people ). (Source: Por una Vivienda Digna Plataforma – 2012)
According to INSEE in 2007, before the crisis, 83% of Spanish households were homeowners (EU average = 65%).
QUALITY OF HOUSING
INFORMAL HOUSING / SLUM / HOMELESS
ROLE OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES
Definition and situation in 2012
Social housing in Spain consists of the so-called vivienda de Proteccion Publica (publicly protected housing). It represents a peculiarity compared to social housing models in most EU countries, in that it is housing provided almost entirely for owner-occupation. Only a small proportion of this housing, currently on the increase, is offered for rent. The main characteristic of protected housing is that construction, renovation and buying are subsidized by the State through reduced interest loans to providers. In exchange for this, dwellings complying with a number of conditions concerning size and quality are sold or let at prices below market to people with revenues below certain income ceilings.
The entire home-ownership sector represent 85% of the total housing stock in Spain, while the rental sector is the smallest in Europe, corresponding to 11% of the total housing stock, and it is concentrated quite exclusively in few main cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. Just about 2% of the stock is social rental housing.
How does it work ?
Public support for protected housing is dwelling-based, and open to all sorts of providers: public developers, commercial developers as well as not for profit organisations and cooperatives, as well as individuals who alone or collectively want to buy or rehabilitate a home.
On the basis of income distribution, depending on the type of VPO, broadly speaking over 80% of households virtually have access to this type of housing. The person who buys / is allocated / builds for personal use the dwelling: must not own or have a permanent right to use another dwelling, must not have obtained financing from the Housing Plan over the previous 10 years, and must have an income below certain levels. Disabled people and depended persons have the priority, and the regional governments can establish other types of requirements.
Source : CECODHAS Report 2012 (4)
Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic
Bibliography & Sitography
According to the PLATAFORMA POR UNA VIVIENDA DIGNA :
Escalating exorbitant housing prices relative to wages in the country (+ 250% between 1987 and 2005).
The situation of young people, single or couples, is particularly worrying. A young person living alone should devote on average 90% of their income on housing.
Proliferation of vacant dwellings and second homes underutilized. There would be 3 million empty homes and second homes of 3.5 million (2001 figures)
The construction of new social housing idles. Between 1980 and 2004, the annual production has fallen by more than half. This helps to form pockets of exclusion for the less fortunate.
Spanish economic growth depends in part on the construction industry which has seen massive private foreign investment has created a surge in housing prices. A Spanish debt must be 40 to 50 years to buy his home.
The standard of living has declined, especially in large cities where the city center neighborhoods experiencing a significant amount of empty slots. In addition, the new construction is concentrated in the urban peripheries, which creates enormous problems of mobility, a phenomenon exacerbated by the introduction of shopping malls in these areas with high purchasing power.
Enormous environmental damage produced by these property speculators who build new homes anywhere, which has consequences waste of natural resources (water – energy).
Lack of control in the construction industry where abuse is rising sharply: ghost society, unfair contracts, construction defects, misinformation, etc.. While it is often for people, the greatest financial effort of their lives!
According to DESC PLATEFORM IN SPAIN :
housing has been the Achilles heel of the Spanish economy and the explosion of the housing bubble has led to the current crisis.
For years the country has experienced a promotional campaign for mortgage homeownership. The location was extremely undervalued (at its legislative protection as the dominant discourse) and access to the property valued. The result was widespread granting credit without resource controls debtors. Meanwhile, construction has experienced unprecedented growth and the Spanish economy is based on the real estate sector. Speculation has taken dimensions more important to the explosion of the housing bubble in 2008.
Interest rates of mortgage loans were made at variable rates which, together with the crisis has reinforced the inability to pay.
Spanish law does not, as in many European countries a law a second chance or indebtedness. So when families can no longer afford and are evicted, they are asked to pay the remainder of the debt related to the repayment mortgage (to which is added the cost of records and penalties for late payment).
The Spanish social housing is extremely low and families finding themselves on the street have little alternative accommodation.
CLAIMS MAJOR BY CIVIL SOCIETY
According to PLATAFORMA POR UNE VIVIENDA DIGNA :
Requires the State to ask the Spanish banking sector to assume its responsibilities in the housing crisis facing the country. Source: Website IAH.
Their 14 proposals (cf. website):
Stop wasting public funds and invest in the growth of social housing and housing assistance.
High tax penalty (exponentially in relation to the number of dwellings and vacancy status) for any natural or legal person who holds empty homes or second homes empty.
Creation of a public body at the central government to report the evolution of housing prices and those in the field. A desire within public media to refer to this information objectively.
Include housing prices in the price index for consumption.
Create a regulatory agency against real estate fraud globally (construction, leasing, …).
Ban the auction of public land, which has resulted in an artificial increase in housing prices.
An opportunity to participate in the management of land (urban), including for the planning of urban land in the interest of all.
Eliminate administrative barriers affecting self-construction and housing cooperatives as alternatives to existing housing.
More control for non-payment of tenants and tax relief for those who choose to rent rather than buy / sell.
Develop sustainability criteria and social criteria in housing plans so that urban policies are becoming an effective tool for improving the quality of life for everyone.
Prohibit the placing on the market of substandard housing and retrain those who can still meet the criteria for habitability back on the market as decent housing.
Create a compensation fund to assist victims of abuse on the housing market, at least in order to wait for the judgment and sometimes because the case ended in a failure of responsibility.
Limit the duration of mortgages to 15 years and provide coverage of risks (if the person becomes seriously ill or unemployed).
Phase and a non-retroactive tax deductions available for the acquisition of housing to reduce social injustice vis-à-vis those who can not afford their housing.
According to PLATAFORMA DE AFECTADOS POR LA HIPOTECA in Spain – PAH :
The major demands of civil society are contained in the popular legislative initiative filed by PAH (platform affected by the mortgage). PAH must collect 500 signatures before proposing the project to Congress in January. This initiative includes:
Obtaining Dación in pago which is to cancel the debt once the person evicted from her home. This is a claim supported by many players because beyond the social side economists that it is difficult to advance with individuals debt.
Obtaining a moratorium on evictions (there were more than 400,000 deportations in Spain since 2008, 532 per day on average. Situation becomes untenable LA and civil society asked to consider the crisis to halt evictions els .
The creation of a social housing from millions of empty homes in the country.
Better control of banks. Spain has created what they call “mud malo” to control harmful financial assets, but in the end this initiative may help to strengthen the control of the new financial entity that can act very freely on the property market and risk again fall into speculation.
CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS
ARRELS FUNDACIÓ = foundation that helps homeless people to find solutions by working their autonomy, which educates the public about the problems of poverty in our society, denouncing situations of injustice and offers solutions to government and civil society. The association coordinates the professionals and volunteers in action around the street, day centers, access to housing, access to health care (mental). Arrels Website – Contact Them
ASOCIACIÓN PROVIVIENDA = their goal is to promote decent housing and decent in terms of habitability, accessibility, adaptability and safety to improve individual and social skills. Their action is both tenants and landlords, with a specific approach vis-à-vis migrants, homeless, abused women, youth. Provivienda website – Contact them
AVIS DEL BARRI EN DEFENSA DE LOS INQUILINOS DE BON PASTOR = association committed to the defense of tenants as well as in boosting cultural district houses popular Bon Pastor. It is at once experiences of self-management, cooperatives and eco-neighborhood in the old quarter of Barcelona which local authorities would recover the ground … Link to International Alliance of Inhabitants – Video : Vidéo en FR – Bonpastor website – Contact them
FEDERACIÓN DE ASOCIACIONES DE CENTROS PARA LE INTEGRACIÓN Y AYUDA DE MARGINADOS – FACIAM = association that aims to coordinate the associations working for the homeless is a belt conjunction with government, contributes to the process social transformation acting with political leaders and the homeless community through seminars, studies, conferences, … FACIAM website – Contact Them
PLATAFORMA POR UNA VIVIENDA DIGNA = ECI unrelated ideological or a political party. This platform for decent housing is a national association that fights as a citizen and since 2003 for a decent and affordable housing development and a more just and sustainable urban development. Their action is mainly to organize protests and other events in order to put pressure on the political authorities. Website – Contact Them.
PLATAFORMA DE AFECTADOS POR LA HIPOTECA – PAH = work to family meetings under the yoke of an eviction for non-payment of their mortgage. How collective action is (it is not individualized legal support) and the initiative affected. They organize actions which the best known are stopping evictions and pressure from banks. The first objective is to prevent the judicial commission to make a move to put a seal which is the act of expulsion. This action can revive the peace process before the next eviction order and save valuable time. Regarding the banks, the most common way to intervene is the peaceful occupation of the premises to meet the manager and negotiate Dación in Pago. A campaign to label specific locations stickers “este banco Engaña, estafa echa there has gente de su casa … what sepa” is also organized. PAH address: PAH website.
ASSOCIACIO 500×20 = defending a moratorium on evictions and occupation of empty homes to create a social housing. 500×20 Website.
CORROLA UTOPIA in Seville organizes the occupation of empty homes to rehouse families: Corrola Utopia Website.
IAIOFLAUTAS = a seniors’ association organizing actions with banks, demonstrations, blockades and occupations evictions. Iaiflautas Website.