Ibavi, the regional government's housing institute, has a total of 1,805 apartments for rent. Of these, the occupants of 826 are not paying the rent. In some instances, rents haven't been paid for between four and six years. This loss of rent is said to amount to 3.7 million euros.
The ministry for land, headed by Marc Pons, is preparing to evict tenants if it is found that they have sufficient means to be paying rent. There are 2,500 families on the waiting list for this social housing, and the government wants to free up apartments to try and satisfy at least some of this demand.
While non-payment of rent is typically only for a couple of months, it can be for a very much longer period and also include nothing having been paid for electricity and water. Moreover, it has become evident that some properties are used as brothels or for the sale of drugs.
The ministry will be seeking reports from local social services in order to determine whether tenants genuinely have no (or very little) income or are simply avoiding payment of rent.
Perhaps surprisingly, there was a major increase in non-payment from 2012, a time when the government was under the control of the Partido Popular. The number of bad debtors rose because the government, under pressure from social organisations, opted not to pursue evictions.
The current government, in addition to wanting to reserve accommodation for the genuinely needy, will be introducing more transparent criteria for those who qualify for it. These will relate to the vulnerability of families and factors such as whether there are children or if there is any history of domestic violence.
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