The administration of Spain's Andalusia autonomous region implemented a decision whereby banks, financial institutions and real estate companies may be fined up to 9,000 euros for not renting empty residences and one that would make possible confiscation of residential units by the government for a period of three years.
The first great step in Spain, a country faced with serious social crisis as a result of the economic crisis, came from the administration of the Andalusia autonomous region in protecting those who could not pay their home mortgages and who lost their homes eventually.
Andalusian government, made up of a coalition of the Socialist Labor Party (PSOE) and United Left (IU), announced that there were currently 700,000 empty residences in the region and almost half of those residences belonged to banks, financial institutions, and real estate companies.
Issue of residence a human right
Since 2007, there have been 86,000 foreclosures, according to data provided by the Andalusian government, which said it would handle the issue of residence as a human right.
Elena Cortes, a member of the Andalusian government responsible for residences, described the mortgage victims as "a bleeding social wound."
"We try to bring justice with our decision and go to the bottom of the problem. For the first time in Spain, an autonomous government is making residences a right by law. The current situation can in no way be supported from an ethical view. We want the victims of the economic crisis to be aware that their own autonomous administration is presenting solutions," Cortes said.
2 percent of the value of confiscated residence to be paid by Andalusian government as rent
President of Andalusia Jose Antonio Grinan said that "according to our constitution, owners of properties have social responsibilities."
"We are not talking about any untouchable rights. We have conducted legal search on the issue and our decision was undoubtedly not against the constitution," Grinan stressed.
Andalusia will implement their decision as of Friday. The penalties to be issued to home owners have been placed under three categories: "light, heavy and too heavy." The maximum penalty would be 9,000 euros.
Andalusian autonomous administration may confiscate residences for a period of up to three years. Two percent of the value of confiscated residence will be paid by the Andalusian government as rent.
Summer homes as well as mountain cottages will be exempt from the decision.
Hundreds of thousands of mortgage victims expect solution
On the other hand, the central Spanish government announced that the decision of the Andalusian government would be studied and the decision's coherence with existing laws would be evaluated.
Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon underlined that they wanted the decisions of autonomous administrations to be in accordance with existing laws, to be approved by the Spanish parliament and cover all Spanish citizens.
There are around 400,000 Spanish citizens who face the risk of home foreclosure as efforts continue in the Spanish parliament to protect those under risk.
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognized as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Seville.
Andalusia has been an economically poor region in comparison with the rest ofSpain and the wider European Union (EU). However, the growth of the community especially in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the eurozone.
The region has, however, a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco, bullfighting, and certain Moorish-influenced architectural styles.