Spain’s banking association has said it will halt evictions of indebted home owners in extreme need for the next two years.
Monday’s decision to freeze mortgage-related evictions came after reports of a second suicide in 15 days by indebted homeowners facing expulsion in Spain surfaced.
The deaths shocked a country already weary of tough austerity measures in the midst of recession and record unemployment, and the news sent thousands into the streets in anti-bank protests.
The freeze, which will be observed by Spain’s largest banks, is aimed at taking the heat out of an increasingly dramatic trend affecting thousands of people caught in the economic crisis.
The banks had agreed “for humanitarian reasons and within a framework of social responsibility, to halt reposessions during the next two years in those cases that involve extreme need,” it said in a statement.
The decision was hammered out after a “deep and intense debate among associated banks so as to relieve the situation of helplessness of many people caused by the economic crisis.”
Spain’s association of savings banks, CECA, issued a separate statement saying it, too, had agreed to suspend evictions of the “most vulnerable” until new regulations are announced.
Conservative government officials will meet on Monday with leading Socialist opposition party members to discuss new regulations governing evictions.
The talks took on greater urgency after the suicide of a second person about to suffer eviction on Friday.
In Spain, home owners unable to make mortgage payments may be evicted but still remain liable to repay whatever value is left on the mortgage after the repossession.
More than 350,000 people have lost their homes in this way over the past four years.