DOZENS of homeowners in the Balearic Islands have been forced to turn their vacant properties into social housing.

The Government of the Balearic Islands has revealed that a total of 56 properties across the region will face forcible expropriation.

This is the act of seizing private property for public purposes.

Announcing the new measure, the Minister for Housing, Josep Mari, said: “This is an important step that allows the government to take apartments off the speculative market, returning them to their social function.”

By island, 27 will be acquired in Mallorca, 23 in Menorca and six in Ibiza.

If not appealed in court, these properties will be offered for social rental through the Balearic Housing Institute (Ibavi) with a monthly payment that does not exceed 30% of the new inhabitants’ income.

The homes will be acquired for a minimum of seven years with the 56 homeowners being compensated with a shared pot of €1.8 million.

For flats in Mallorca, the average price that the government will pay is €408 per month.

In Menorca it will be €336 per month and in Ibiza it will be €530 per month.

Mari said the agreement was ‘pioneering’ and ‘unprecedented for the region’, and that his department spent months studying the homes listed in the registry.

In fact, over 300 homes were considered with the 56 apartments eventually being deemed suitable for social housing due to their size, characteristics and condition.

Mari went on to detail his hopes that the expropriation would ‘encourage homeowners not to keep their flats empty’ and instead put them on the ‘ordinary’ market.

However, the Balearic Association of Real Estate Developers said the new measure had generated much fear in the market.

Its president, Luis Martin, said: “We have already received calls from national and foreign investors.

“They are scared because they do not know if their properties can be expropriated and unfortunately we have to tell them that yes, there is a possibility they could be in the future.”

The leader of the Balearic PP, Biel Company, also slammed the measure, accusing President Francina Armengol of carrying out ‘a persecution of private property’.

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