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The Valencia pensioner facing eviction because of a simple clerical error

Encarna Pérez, 75, may be thrown onto street due to house number mix-up

Joaquín Gil
Encarna Pérez with members of her family.
Encarna Pérez with members of her family.MÒNICA TORRES

Pensioner Encarna Pérez can hardly hold back the tears. She has been suffering panic attacks ever since she found out last year that a Valencia court was putting her home up for auction. Her 75-square-meter apartment in the municipality of Llíria, which has been her home for two decades, has been slapped with an eviction order due to an error. The apartment has no outstanding debts on it and was paid off in full in 1989. But Spain’s slow-moving judicial system insists on ignoring that fact, according to her family.

“I’m living through a nightmare,” she says amid sobs. “Why are they doing this to me?” Pérez fears that she might end up on the streets in the next few days, all thanks to a bureaucratic mess.

The absurd story began in September of last year. That was when she received a letter from someone saying that they would be interested in bidding for her property. Pérez’s family began to investigate, and discovered that her property had indeed been put up for auction.

But the legal order referred to an apartment at the nonexistent address of number 34 in Doctor Waksman Avenue — Pérez lives at number 36.

Her daughter is not ruling out new episodes in this Kafkian nightmare

“Using the deeds for the house and receipts for property taxes, we managed to confirm that there had been an error, and we advised the Llíria court of this,” explains the family’s lawyer, Manuel Morales. “They said to us that it was clear that it had been a mistake.”

The second chapter in this nightmare began last Saturday. A letter dated August 20 appeared in Pérez’s letterbox. It was found “by chance” by her daughter, who had come to the apartment to water the plants. Her mother was spending a few days on vacation in Zaragoza. The letter contained a notification from the court that an eviction order would be executed on the apartment at 10.45am on Wednesday of this week. And so, at the stipulated time, a police officer and a locksmith arrived.

The letter had, in fact, been addressed to the true debtor, who is a builder from the municipality of Alberic, also in Valencia.

Pérez’s family sprang into action on Wednesday, putting into motion measures to prevent the loss of a property worth 150,000 euros. They called the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) and sent their lawyer back to the courts to advise the legal system of the original mistake once again.

Encarna Pérez — whose family didn’t leave her side for one minute in an effort to keep her calm — wasn’t evicted on Wednesday. But her daughter is not ruling out new episodes in this Kafkaesque nightmare. The pensioner, who lives on 500 euros a month, has had to spend 300 euros on notaries in order to prove that the property that BFA (Bankia’s bad bank) is trying to seize is not hers. She has already resigned herself to the fact that she won’t get her money back.

Her family thinks that the whole mess was caused by a failure to check the street number properly. “How can it be so hard to do a proper job when we are talking about throwing someone out of their house?” complains her lawyer, Morales. “How did the courts draw up the report before the auction? Using Google?” Morales says that he has never seen “such a flagrant case” as this one. “There are supposed professionals involved here who will have earned 6,000 euros in fees with this mistake,” he explains.

An official from the Llíria court told EL PAÍS that the case is the responsibility of one of their colleagues, who happens to be on vacation until next week. In the meantime, Pérez’s tears will keep flowing.

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