The Government's measure aims to expand the housing stock in the Balearic Islands with novel proposals that are not applied in other autonomous regions. | Jaume Morey

The Government has obtained the endorsement of the High Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands to continue with the process of expropriation of empty apartments belonging to banks and investment funds in the Balearic Islands. Property that’s been empty for two years can be expropriated by the Government for a period of seven years. The temporary use transfer, which is included in the Balearic Housing Law, was approved in 2018 and allows for flats to be removed from the market and rented to those in need for a maximum 30% of their income.

The magistrates reject each and every one of the arguments of the Association of Real Estate Developers of the Balearic Islands, which filed an appeal against the decree that develops the Housing Law. The real estate developers considered that the decree "undermined" the principle of presumption of innocence and guilt by shifting the burden of proof to the owner, since the law considers it a very serious infringement not to communicate the list of unoccupied dwellings.

The promoters also denounced that the decree does not establish a clear amount to fix the price to be paid by the Government for the temporary occupation of the dwellings. He also questioned the fact that the hearing procedures established by law were not respected when exposing the decree to the public before its approval. Another of the arguments defended by the promoters is that the decree modified the law indirectly, something that is not legal, and was abusive with respect to the establishment of minimum consumption, among other issues.

Regarding the setting of the amount of the price to be paid to the owner of the property, the promoters complained that the decree does not include any criteria, nor the guarantees of the damages that could be caused by the use of the property. All the court rulings to date have been in favour of the Government since the Housing Law was passed. Even the Government of Pedro Sánchez threatened to file an appeal before the Constitutional Court because it considered that some of the issues included in the law were contrary to the Constitution, but in the end it did not do so.