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Number of evictions in Spain a record high in 2012

More than 250,000 have lost homes since 2008 housing bust; activists now blocking evictions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 March, 2013, 6:06am

Eviction procedures in Spanish courts for unpaid mortgages and rent hit a fresh high last year, an oversight body said, as a sharp economic downturn and record unemployment continued to take a toll.

Courts executed 75,605 eviction orders last year, a 16.7 per cent increase over the previous year when a then-record 64,770 eviction orders were carried out, the General Council of Judicial Power said last week.

That brings to 252,826 the number of eviction orders executed since 2008 when a decade-long property bubble burst and Spain sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and leaving them unable to keep up mortgage or rent payments.

The jump in evictions has become a political hot potato due to a series of suicides by people who were about to be thrown out of their homes and to television images of weeping families forced out on the street.

It has also sparked a protest movement, which sends activists to block the entrances to homes of people about to be evicted, to prevent police from forcibly removing them from their homes.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government passed a decree in November, which freezes evictions of the most vulnerable homeowners.

The two-year freeze on evictions applies to families earning less than €1,600 (HK$16,200) per month who also meet other conditions such as having a child under three, at least three children, a disabled dependent or being jobless without benefits.

Spain is grappling with a double-dip recession, which has caused the unemployment rate to soar to a record 26 per cent.

The euro-zone's fourth-largest economy has been in a six-year slump.