Seven-year "expropriation" of empty properties by the Balearic government. | Archive

Banks and funds are taking measures to prevent empty properties they own from being expropriated by the Balearic government.

Under the housing act, owners with more than ten properties are obliged to register those which are empty with the government. If these have been empty for at least two years, the government has the right to take them over and use them for social housing, paying the owners a rent. These arrangements are for seven years.

When the register was launched over two years ago, there were 1,400 registered empty properties. There are now 671. Prior to the legislation, the government estimated that there were some 3,500 properties.

The housing ministry announced last week that it had concluded the process to obtain the first sixteen properties as permitted by the legislation.

The director general for housing, Eduard Rossy, has denounced the lack of cooperation by banks and other large owners. This has led to the disappearance of more than half the properties that were on the register; the owners are preferring to sell them or rent them out rather than hand them over to the government.

As an example, during the expropriation process that the government started some months ago for 56 properties, 22 were sold in order not assign them to the government.

Despite attempts being made to get round the law, the ministry believes that there is good news in that properties are becoming available rather than being held onto for the sole purpose of "speculative interest".