As Pandemic Evictions Rise, Spaniards Declare ‘War’ on Wall Street Landlords

Spanish rental housing owners’ association, which includes some of the foreign investment firms, criticised the proposed housing law, saying that rent controls would only discourage owners from building new rental units during a period of low supply.

The financial crisis that began in 2008 is at the root of the current unrest in Barcelona. There were many bankruptcies as a result of the economic downturn, which affected homeowners the most. As a result of the crisis, many people were forced to flee their homes, and a protest movement arose to protect them from predatory lenders.

A large number of people lost their homes, however, and most are now renters. Activists claim that renters have borne the brunt of the crisis’ damage.

Tenant populations have increased by more than 40% in the last decade as foreclosures and other financial difficulties have made homeownership increasingly difficult. According to estimates by economists and Spanish media, private firms have amassed at least 40,000 properties in Spain.

The percentage of Spanish residents who own their own home, however, has remained high, at around 75%.

More than 1,800 apartments were purchased from the Madrid city government in 2013 by Blackstone, which is now thought to be Spain’s largest landlord.

Until the pandemic forced landlords to serve eviction notices to tenants who couldn’t pay their rent, these types of acquisitions remained largely unnoticed.

In the first three months of 2021, the government estimates that evictions of tenants in Spain increased by 14% over the same period in the previous year. This year’s second quarter saw an eightfold increase over the same period in 2020.