Esquire travels back to Spain to see the effects of the growing movement against evictions – and see if it can quell the rage against the economic crisis. From the start of the recession in 2008, being evicted from your home has become the single greatest fear of middle-class, working-class, or both. On Monday 12 September, readers will be able to hear from a handful of brave tenants that are fighting back. On 6 September, On The Stage will lead a solidarity concert for Spain’s eviction victims and set up a focal point for their fight.
As of today, 73,000 evictions have been written off so far, but for millions of others, it’s a relatively small number of dimes waved in their faces. Before a year ago, from the start of the economic crisis in 2008, a private landlord could choose to evict tenants without pay, but this legislation was relaxed shortly after. Now, building owners must first try to sell the property, at which point they must also give the tenants a chance to buy back the house, but many people are being evicted even before the sale process has begun. The days of once-safe, swanky apartments in beautiful, middle-class areas now look like the stuff of horror movies. One tenant died during her eviction proceedings, and they forced her out of her flat after two days. As simple as looking at the temperature of her windows, lawyers allow bankers to tear down her home, leaving her behind.
Readers will hear from Eric, a postman who has attempted to bring his landlord to court for two years. He has lost twice in court, and with the rent steadily creeping up – since the end of the recession, more than 600 families have been forced to flee their homes every month – he has been forced to take legal action on behalf of another poor, poor man. Another reader, which prompted the question, “Why are you taking on the landlord when you’re barely making a living, and when this economy is killing you?” – is Roberto, a hospital assistant who recently retired but still faces the imminent threat of evictions. He can’t afford to sell his flat, despite having a career that has taken him around the world. As Eamonn Mac Grean explains, there is little left of humanity in the Spanish economy. As the latter part of 2011 and 2012 look set to unfold with little or no prospect of recovery, will the problem be solved by financial handouts, or will the population take matters into their own hands? We’ll find out on Thursday 18 September.