Another struggling tenant in Spain committed suicide this week, rather than be evicted from his home. This is the fourth eviction-motivated suicide in the European nation since Monday.
As Spanish-language news site Informacion reports, police confirmed the 46-year-old man hung himself on Feb. 13 in the Spanish city of Alicante.
The man had allegedly not paid his rent for the past five years, according to the site. Police reportedly found his body when they arrived to evict him. Friends told Informacion they were not surprised, and that the deceased tenant had previously threatened to commit suicide if eviction papers were served.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that an elderly couple overdosed on prescription medications rather than be forced to leave their home in Mallorca. And earlier in the week, a 56-year-old man residing in the Basque town of Basauri Vizcaya killed himself after falling behind on his payments, according to ThinkSpain.
These suicides are part of a much larger trend in a country stricken by its own housing crisis, which began in 2008. "Between December 2011 and March or April 2012, the number of suicides presumably linked to economic problems has increased significantly," a Spanish forensic investigator told Latin American news network Tierramérica in August.
Reuters reported in November that Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos vowed to stop the eviction of needy families after the high-profile suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egaña, who jumped to her death from the balcony of her apartment after becoming unable to make her mortgage payments.
But the government's fall reforms, which included a two-year moratorium on evictions, have apparently failed to stem the tide of eviction-motivated suicides, or cooled the fury of activist groups protesting them.
According to the AP, over 350,000 Spaniards have received eviction notices since the housing bubble popped five years ago. In Spain, tenants who are evicted are still liable for huge payments. Banks have the authority to garnish wags if necessary.
On Wednesday, members of the Spanish parliament bowed to public pressure and agreed to discuss an initiative that would put in place new protections for struggling tenants and homeowners, writes EuroWeeklyNews. As protesters stood outside the parliament and shouted slogans like, "Not eviction, it's murder," the Spanish legislature decided to review the bill, which would change the law to end evictions altogether and erase debts owed by struggling homeowners who agreed to give up their homes, according to Agence France-Presse.