For years Barcelona has been threatening landlords with fines for leaving buildings sitting empty saying it added to the lack of affordable housing in the city.
Exasperated by the fact that some buildings have remained empty for years despite a serious lack of housing for the city’s residents the town hall finally showed its teeth fining two investment funds 2.8€ million ($3.17 million) for two unoccupied buildings in the city centre.
The recent fines go well beyond what was previously threatened and have been declared by local media a “declaration of war” from Mayor Ada Colau after she referred to the owners of such properties as “vulture funds.”
Part of the problem stems from the financial crisis in 2007 when banks found themselves flooded by foreclosed homes and decided rather than to sell them off at below what was owed to just sit and wait until the market came back.
The Mayor who was once an anti-eviction campaigner sees this attitude on the part of the banks as being punitive when these empty buildings could be used to provide affordable accommodation for the local population.