The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled Spain’s eviction laws to be incompatible with EU law on unfair terms in consumer contracts.
The decision will give Spanish judges the power to rule on whether mortgage terms are unfair under Directive 93/13/EEC in mortgage enforcement proceedings. The courts will have more power to suspend evictions.
We all knew Spain’s eviction laws were unfair or at least extremely harsh. You can lose your home and be left a huge debt to boot. Granted, prior to the financial crisis, the laws weren’t a noticeable problem. People generally kept up with their mortgage payments. When they didn’t, market conditions meant that they weren’t left with a debt for life as well as an eviction order.
Since 2008, though, home repossession has become a social disaster in Spain. We saw it happening. We knew why it was happening. But no one—apart from the civil action groups who managed to physically stop a few eviction orders—did anything.
Two Spanish governments have made next to no changes to laws and procedures that President Rajoy yesterday admitted were antiquated. Really? So why didn’t you or your predecessor do anything about it?
The judges are happy. One of them said that they could now be more than just cobradores del frac—a unique Spanish invention for collecting debt that involves dressing up in a tuxedo and top hat to embarrass the defaulter into paying up.
So, Europe, thank you for pointing out the obvious and hopefully helping us to change what we have been powerless to change until now.
With courts like yours, we might even end up inviting you in to make all the decisions. Oh wait, we already did that. Well then, just let us vote in meaningful European elections, and we’ll all be friends again.
You can read the European Court of Justice’s ruling here.