Squatters have taken over bank properties. | S.A. Amengual

Squatters have moved into at least 13 apartments that were signed over to banks in October last year, making it impossible for the Government to turn them over to the banks.

The Bank Restructuring Asset Management Company, or Sareb is the official name of the so-called ‘bad bank’ which manages many of the homes that were left in the hands of banks as a result of evictions caused by the financial crisis that began in 2008.

The President of the Government, Francina Armengol contacted Sareb to arrange the transfer of some of these properties with the intention of using them for social housing.

In 2015, an agreement was signed between the Government and Sareb for the transfer of 90 of the 2,000 properties estimated to be in the hands of the banks. During inspections it was discovered that 46 of the properties were either uninhabitable or illegally occupied by squatters and were returned to Sareb.

21 of the apartments were passed to the Red Cross and rented to immigrants who recently arrived in the Balearic Islands and have no money or resources.

The Government’s agreement with Sareb has been suspended since October and may be extended, expanded or cancelled depending on the needs of the Executive.

Sareb is reportedly planning to invest around 116 million euros for the development of more than 700 homes in the Balearic Islands over the next 7 years.

Between 2013 and 2019, the Bank Restructuring Asset Management Company poured around one million euros into residential developments and real estate projects in the Islands that were unfinished.

Sareb estimates that it spent 51.9 million euros in the Islands as a result of the payment of neighbouring communities, maintenance costs, IBI taxation and the remuneration of traders, it said in a statement.

The Government's commitment to obtaining public housing has been directed on several fronts, ranging from agreements with Sareb to forcing large holders, such as banks and vulture funds cede their empty flats in exchange for rent.

A program giving the Government the option to pay for the renovation of a house or apartment in exchange for its owners giving up the houses for social rent did not work.

According to the Minister of Mobility & Housing, Marc Pons, only one house in the Municipality of Santa Maria and three in Ibiza were obtained through that program.

More than 2,000 people are reportedly waiting for social housing in the Balearic Islands.