Following a similar move by Andalusia, Catalonia has announced plans to impose a special tax on banks that are holding empty homes without trying to put them on the market.
In an effort to solve the nation's housing crisis, which is being fueled by the growing number of evictions across the country, the Catalan nationalist CiU bloc has said that financial institutions and real estate agencies that are holding empty homes - many of them repossessed - will face unspecified surcharges. Banks currently hold some 450,000 properties across the region, the government of Artur Mas said.
The moves against the banks by the two regions has ignited concern within the national Popular Party
On April 10, the Socialist government of Andalusia approved a decree that will allow it to embargo for up to three years homes that have been foreclosed on, preventing families from being evicted. The government also plans to impose fines of up to 9,000 euros on banks and real estate companies that leave homes empty.
The moves against the banks by the two regions has ignited concern within the national Popular Party (PP) government. The Economy Ministry has asked the Attorney General's Office to study steps, including a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court, against Andalusia and Catalonia for going it alone in introducing taxes on the banks.
Nevertheless, some government sources believe that actions such as Andalusia's plans to also expropriate empty homes could have legal backing.