24.11.2011 - Until the recent modification of the Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil (Civil Justice Law), once the official complaint had been presented to the court of arrears, a date had to be fixed for the case to be heard in front of a judge. Until that took place the right of the owner to repossess his or her property by eviction was not recognised and the process went on for months. One attempt at speeding things up in the so-called express eviction law of 2009 cut the time required between the demand for payment and the presentation of a court case from two months to one. With the new reform the right to recover a property could be recognised in just ten days. Problems in getting bad tenants or tenants who have cash flow problems out means that many people are loath to let out their properties and thousands stand empty. Added to those people who find it impossible to pay the monthly rent are the professional debtors who work the system and know that they can spend over a year in a property without paying before they are evicted. The new Ley de Medidas de Agilización Procesal (law to speed up cases measures) is supposed to force a more reasonable and shorter time as to when the debtor has to leave the property. The 2009 express eviction law made sweeping changes to the way these cases were handled. Apart from halving the time required between notification and the request for a court case, it also gave landlords the right to post a debtor’s notice on the court notice board if the tenant did not receive (or deliberately dodged receiving) the court order. If the debtor didn’t appear in court on the day set, another date had to be set. The 2009 law changed all that and if the debtor didn’t show up a date for eviction would be set and the debtor was served with the eviction notice within six days. The notice fixed the day and the hour when the property had to be left. The law meant an improvement, but it wasn’t as successful as it was expected to be and it can till take six months or more from the demand for payment to eviction. The main reason has been the crisis and the increase in cases which have meant that thousands of families have been unable to meet their rental obligations. More cases, but the same number of judges means that delays remain similar to two years ago. The new process does not require a judge to be involved. The demand is presented and the tenant is given 10 days to pay up, leave the property or present a counter claim to explain why they haven’t paid. The notification is the only requirement before the eviction notice is processed it also contains the day and the time the eviction will take place. If the tenants claim a reason for non-payment and it is not considered reasonable, the original time and date of eviction is maintained and the process for reclaiming the debt owed can continue even if the property is abandoned.
Will it work? If no additional people are employed in the commissions who are to carry out the evictions the measures will not have the desired results. The courts are already saturated and more personnel will be needed even though a formal court hearing in front of a judge will not be necessary in the majority of the cases.