By Frances Leate

CALLS to change the law on mortgages, which has led to the suicide of several homeowners, have intensified throughout Spain.

Francisco Lema, an unemployed 36-year-old builder from Cordoba is the fourth homeowner this month to take his own life after being threatened with eviction.

The house he built himself had been repossessed, leaving a debt of €22,000 on his mortgage.

It is thought he jumped off the balcony of his repossessed home after dropping his eight-year-old daughter off at school.

In Britain, if you default on your mortgage you can write off the debt left over through personal bankruptcy.

In Spain, however, homeowners remain liable even after the bank has repossessed the property.

The campaign group, Stop Evictions Cordoba, is calling for forced evictions to stop and for a solution be made with the banks following Mr Lema’s untimely death.

Thousands of Spaniards bearing placards and banners took to the streets in 50 cities around the country on February 16 to protest against forced evictions.

A petition with more than 1.5 million signatures this month persuaded parliament to debate the possibility of cancelling mortgage debt once a home is handed back to the bank.

So far, nearly 400,000 properties have been repossessed by banks since the 2008 housing crash, and the number is rising.

Firefighters have now joined the campaign by refusing to open the door of homes being repossessed.

Have you been affected by the forced evictions? Contact Olive Press at




  1. Didn’t Rajoy say he passed new legislation to stop this from happening? All BS as normal.

    Watch out when you purchase a property here, you are liable for it for life. Best buy a nice little cottage in the Cotswalds and forget all the hassles of Spain.

  2. So, “Fred”, in order to “forget the hassles of Spain”, why don’t YOU follow your own advice, you are forever moaning about Spain and it’s citizens.

    Just think, half a million for a bog standard two up and two down “cottage”. Council tax to make your eyes water for a dreadful service and if you fall ill, under the NHS you would be lucky to escape with your life, not to mention the ‘death row’ regime of the care home system. A police force that is drowning in paperwork, all pervading H&S lunacy, CCTV in every corner, an education system that has been screwed up by successive governments, thousands of eastern europeans waiting to swarm everywhere…ad infinitum.

    And it’s a fair bet that Cameron & Cº have u-turned far more than Rajoy y su equipo.

  3. @”amparo”, hindsight is a beautiful thing isn’t it?

    In any event I did purchase another place elsewhere, in the Netherlands (I already have places in the UK), and you know what, the people are lovely, my house is legal, the local authority is highly efficient and not mired in corruption and inefficiency, the locals care about their neighbourhood and there are not piles of dog excrement and building rubble to constantly meander around. You know, it’s a country that really cares about things, like a complete opposite universe to Spain lol. Can’t beat Spain for the weather of course, but the climate becomes so much less important when all the other things are just done properly and correctly. It makes life so much easier and less of a worry. No stupid fines, no mad laws that keep changing every week, no constant corruption cases, no silly “guiri” stuff to constantly battle, no threats of demolitions and illegal houses, etc. A breath of fresh air one could say, and a real shame that Spain will never, ever be like this.

  4. **Fred**. You may well be right about the Netherlands. I have only been there once. But I have never seen masses of immigration applications to go and live there and one has to ask why, if it is so wonderful, the Brit’s STILL prefer Spain. Is it just the weather?. I think not.

    You talk of distastful aspects, the last time I visited Nottingham (a typical UK city, no?) on a Friday night it was nothing more than a city centre wide drunken brawl, full of people vomiting and urinating, litter, hookers and smackheads. Here, outside of the well defined (and legal) street parties such behaviour would be immediately pounced upon by the Guardia Civil.

    Corruption is the child of opportunistic greed and here, during the boom times, the ‘loads a money’ brigade came waving their fajos and injected high octane fuel into the economy, and not just in real estate. And that, in ANY country could only forment dodgy dealings including illegal builds. But in Spain, where ‘brown envelopes/sobornos and enchufes’ have always been an integral part of the culture (and the UK is NO different in spite of what people think), such a false foundation has compounded the issue immeasurably.

    And THAT, Fred, has led to a situation where, given the idiotic real estate pricing, banks were (irresponsibly) lending money on unrealistic (but nevertheless real market) values. And now, it’s all gone pear shaped. No jobs because the bubble burst so people can’t pay the mortgage. House values below rock bottom so there is negative equity and people are being thrown a la calle with a debt around their necks to boot.

    Without wishing to appear sympathetic, Rajoy is between a rock and a hard place, on the one hand people are committing suicide which clearly cannot be acceptable or ignored and on the other hand the banks are already in the mire because of their immense devalued property portfolio’s. A further write down or write off of residential debt would need even more EU funds and that is just cuckoo land talk.

    If only Rajoy AND Rubalcaba could, on this one issue, work together and define a sensible way forward for these unfortunate people (including the demolitions) much of the angst and disconent would evaporate, and the economy would start to grow on a more firm footing. But of course that is fanciful thinking, just like it is pure fantasy to think that life in the “Cotswolds” is any better.

    And finally Fred, your constant negativity about the peculiarities of Spain in this and other postings does nothing to encourage intergation and only forments irritation and anti “guiri stuff” (your words) amongst the many Spaniards who read the OP.

  5. “But I have never seen masses of immigration applications to go and live there”

    Indeed, that was one of my factors in choosing it.

    “the Brit’s STILL prefer Spain. Is it just the weather?.”

    I think the climate and proximity to the UK (cheap flights) are the main factors, so yes it is mainly the weather.

    Anyway, my comments are my opinions and only reflect my experience of life in Spain. You are free to ignore them Amaparo. Btw, I did not invent the word “guiri”; the Spanish are more obsessed with this than we are. The Spanish are already greatly irritated by their successive useless governments and officials, without any help from me lol. Just read the title of this blog post – it’s not just me being negative, Amparo.

  6. If you want to live in Spain without hassle from the bureaucrats, do as the Spaniards do and ignore them. If you break a few regulations the chances are the top heavy system will never catch up with you and even if it does, you’ll end up with a small fine. Pay it, and carry on with life.
    I know it’s a very difficult thing for a North European to do, they have much more self discipline and respect for authority than Southern/Eastern Europeans.

  7. Spain holds itself back. When I wanted to spend €83,000 on an extension about 9 years ago I gave up after dealing with the corrupt Town Hall for 8 months. I had the plans drawn up and spent a lot of money and time on this. I even had a meeting with the Mayor before drawing the plans up to see if it was possible. The corruption got in the way. Where did that money get spent in the end, the UK. In the end I could not stand living in Spain and left. There is corruption in every Country but Spain is just a bit better than Afghanistan on this front. My opinion is that for most people, Spain is a reasonable place to retire. My post does not go missing in the UK, I have 60mb fibre optic broadband, shops everywhere, ebay post gets here, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and no crime as I do not live in a rough area. I lived in Spain for a year but I was financially fortunate enough to be able to come back to the UK after having enough of the local town hall, maybe if I was older I would have just stayed there and kept going. I don’t think my Wife wants to live there when we are older but I am still in two minds. Financially, the amount of money I could rent my UK house out for would be enough to live on in Spain. I also want to live ‘the good life’ with chickens and vegetables with the free irrigation water that I have in Spain. I will see what I think in another 15 years time.

  8. “If you break a few regulations the chances are the top heavy system will never catch up with you and even if it does, you’ll end up with a small fine.”

    Unfortunately that is not the case, Pete. Fines are the new easy income route for Spain, and they are clamping down in all aspects of life. Bank accounts are frequently embargoed, and some fines (such as the ones associated with the new wealth declaration laws this April) start at 10,000 euros. Expats are easy bait of course.

    Has anyone heard of a small fine in Spain? Even traffic fines are expensive here. A friend was fined 200 euros for her child seat being the ‘wrong size’ (and it was even bought in Spain for the correct age group).

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