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Paco Rodríguez with the eviction notice outside the building he is forced to leave. L. Cádiz
'They want to do business with our homes': outrage as tenants forced from their flats in Fuengirola
Fuengirola

'They want to do business with our homes': outrage as tenants forced from their flats in Fuengirola

Residents were handed eviction notices after their building became part of Sareb, Spain's 'bad bank', which is 50% owned by the government

Lorena Cádiz

Fuengirola

Monday, 19 February 2024, 17:06

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Paco Rodríguez has been working in a car dealership in Fuengirola for 38 years. Until his daughters grew up and became independent, he commuted back and forth from Coín, until one day when he and his wife thought it best to move to Fuengirola. There, they rented a flat just a couple of minutes' walk from his workplace and that is how he has lived for years.

But his home is now under threat after the building, located in a block in Calle Salvador Cortés, was repossessed. It belonged to a construction company that went bankrupt. Of the 45 flats in the block, only four or five were sold and the builder decided to rent out the rest. Located right in the centre of Fuengirola, just a few metres from the seafront, and at a modest price where Paco paid 600 euros for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat, they were all rented out with ease.

But that still did not save the company, which ended up being repossessed. Last summer the block of flats ceased to be owned by the construction company and passed into the hands of Sareb, which stands for Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria and is Spain's 'bad bank'. Sareb was created to recapitalise banks most affected by the 2008 financial crisis, and is 50.14% owned by the government and the rest by private entities.

"When we heard about the change, we thought it was good news, even though we are not in a vulnerable situation, we understood that as tenants we would be looked after, we were under the umbrella of the government," Paco said. But the reality has turned out to be very different.

Shortly after the properties passed into the hands of Sareb, "they sent me a letter informing me that they were going to put the flat up for sale and that if I was interested, I could express my interest", the tenant added. The letter, seen by SUR, read: "We would like to inform you of Sareb's decision to put the property up for sale and therefore of the possibility of you acquiring the property... without this communication being considered in any way as the granting of any rights whatsoever."

Paco and his wife showed their interest in buying. "But they haven't even told me the price," the tenant said. "They have sent me an eviction letter for 28 February, which is when my rental contract expires because they have unilaterally decided not to renew it." Paco asked to renew the contract for another year, but was not given that possibility either. "Those of us who have an old contract are being thrown out on the street because they want to sell it, they want to do business with the building," one of Paco's neighbours said.

There are other tenants whose contracts have been renewed, those who signed after 2019. Those, according to this neighbour, based on the regulatory change that took place that year, have the right to renew for a minimum of seven years, so they can still be in their flats for several more years, "but those of us who signed the rental contract before that date can do nothing". The resident also pointed out there are many elderly and disabled tenants who have also been sent the eviction letter and been forced to look for another home.

SUR contacted Sareb but it has not made any public comment at this stage.

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