By Eloise Horsfield
BANKS have been forced to halt mortgage repossessions after two cash-strapped Spaniards committed suicide.
The Spanish Banking Association (AEB) has announced a two-year ban on eviction orders ‘in cases of extreme hardship’.
It comes after the two desperate homeowners took their own lives just two weeks apart, leading to widespread protests.
There was such public outrage that police unions even agreed to back officers who refuse to evict tenants.
Amaya Egana, 53, jumped to her death from a window of her fourth-floor flat in Bilbao as bailiffs were entering the building.
The ex-councillor owed over €200,000 on the flat she shared with her husband and 21-year-old son.
Her death came just days after Miguel Angel Domingo, 54, was found hanged in his flat in Granada, an hour before police arrived with an eviction notice.
“This cannot be allowed to go on,” said Juan Carlos Mediavilla, a judge at the scene of Egana’s death.
“This could have been any of us. The time for talk is over.”
Up to 500 people are evicted each day, with some 400,000 ejected since 2007.
This despite two million properties currently lying empty.
On Monday Kutxabank announced the bank was to ‘immediately suspend’ evictions. This was followed by an AEB announcement to ban evictions in ‘extreme cases’ for two years.
“Given the social alarm, the AEB has reached an agreement on humanitarian grounds,” said a statement.
Meanwhile, Spain’s police union (SUP) has announced it will support officers who refuse to evict on ethical grounds.
“We’re not robots, we’re human beings,” said boss Jose Manuel Sanchez.