August 7, 2020

No, the Government has not opened the door to the expropriation of houses or to legalize the occupation

On Saturday March 11 the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda public in the Official State Gazette (BOE) a provision to adapt the State Housing Plan 2018–2021 to the decrees related to the coronavirus crisis. Among other things, from these plans come the funds that the autonomous communities then dedicate to people in economic difficulties to pay rents.

One of the sections of the ministerial order refers to aid for victims of gender violence, people evicted from their habitual residence, the homeless and others who are especially vulnerable with a situation aggravated by the coronavirus crisis. And it is clarified to the autonomous communities that they can spend funds from the housing plan for the rental of private apartments or for the payment of hotel rooms in the event that there is no public housing available to provide a housing solution to these groups.

This provision, which was already contained in similar terms in a royal decree of March 2018, has been interpreted by some commentators as a possible legalization of the “expropriation” of private property, assuming that the owners would be forced to make the aforementioned homes available to the authorities, something that at no time is said.

Some jurists gave their opinion on Twitter (which in certain cases they have deleted). In general, they affirm that the language used in the newsroom can be confusing, but that it is false that from this ministerial order it can be inferred that anyone will be forced to rent their apartment to vulnerable people, much less that they will be requisition the property for this purpose. Among other things, because even if this were to be the case, there are higher standards that would prevent it, for example the Constitution.

The paragraph of the controversy ensures: “The autonomous communities and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla will make available to the beneficiary a house that is publicly owned, or that has been ceded for use to a public administration, even if it maintains private ownership , appropriate to your circumstances in terms of size, services and location, to be occupied in a rental, cession of use, or any regime of temporary occupation admitted by law.

When this type of housing is not available, the aid may be applied to an adequate dwelling, privately owned, or to any residential accommodation or endowment that may be occupied by the beneficiaries, in the same regimes “.

In statements to this medium, the Secretary General of Urban Agenda and Housing, David Lucas, stresses that “At no time is any reference being made to expropriation or violating the Constitution.” The reason why this article is introduced, is that it is trying to reinforce “so that it is clearer and clearer” that the autonomous communities can use the Housing Plan aid to face the payment of housing for these people. “Always within the voluntary agreement with the owners of the houses. In no case will the assignment of these houses be forced,” he insists. Already on Saturday the Ministry published a tweet to dismantle the hoax:

In an article published this Monday in the La Ley Newspaper, the magistrate of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court Vicente Magro Servet (who was a senator of the PP) makes an analysis of the aforementioned article, in which he unequivocally concludes that an intervention on private property is not being set apart from voluntariness of the owner of the property.

The key, he stresses, is “understanding that the transfer of the home is voluntary.” “It is not a deprivation of the use of a private property owned by an individual so that, without his authorization, it is transferred to one of the beneficiary subjects, even if it is in exchange for price, but rather of previous voluntary transfer of the owner to a beneficiary of those contemplated so that he, in turn, begins the process to request financial aid. ”

And remember that the rule speaks of aid “by cession of use by the Administration of its own assets, or by payment of the financial aid that the beneficiary has obtained, but not by introducing the path of non-voluntariness in the cession of the owner of the property “.

“The order is very clear and there is no legal or serious media discussion about it. I think that people are trying to intoxicate,” says the lawyer and professor at the University of Valencia Andrés Boix-Palop. “From no legal reading can it be interpreted like this and it is not even a novelty,” he adds. His point of view is that if there is something to be criticized for the help of the housing plans, it is the very restrictive thresholds from which you have access to them.


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