Spain Halts Evictions After Second Suicide

Spain Halts Evictions After Second Suicide

Spanish banks have agreed to halt repossessions for the most vulnerable - three days after a woman jumped to her death as officials arrived to evict her from her home.

The two-year suspension will be observed by the country's largest banks, and comes amid public outrage over the growing number of evictions affecting thousands of people caught in the economic crisis.

Kuxtabank, a lender in the northern Spain, was reportedly the first to make the unprecedented move after client Amaia Egana reportedly threw herself from the balcony of her flat in Barakaldo, in the Basque capital Bilbao.

The 53-year-old former Socialist politician's death on Friday was the country's second apparent suicide linked to evictions and sparked protests in the capital Madrid.

Fifteen days earlier, Jose Miguel Domingo, also 53, was found dead in the courtyard of his building in Granada moments after bailiffs appeared to evict him.

Authorities have been under mounting pressure to ease tough mortgage laws.

Struggling homeowners have been camping outside the offices of Caja Madrid, a major mortgage lender, with mats and sleeping bags since October 22, demanding they be spared eviction and have their debts renegotiated.

The Spanish government is in talks with the opposition to discuss new regulations governing evictions.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the meeting on Monday would include discussion of a "temporary halt to the evictions which are hitting the most vulnerable families".

In Spain, homeowners 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 since the 2008 property crash. The unemployment rate in the recession-hit country is also at a record high of 25%.

Last month, a group of top magistrates released a report denouncing the trend of forced evictions. They complained of "extremely aggressive judicial procedures against debtors" who "find themselves defenceless in a crisis that they did not cause".

Earlier this year, a protest to stop the eviction of a family escalated into a mass riot in the Oviedo area of northern Spain.

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