Non-payment of rent has become a real problem on the Costa del Sol. According to new figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), 878 tenants went to court for non-payment of rent in 2010. The courts have a backlog of cases causing delays fuelling the debate that the 2009 ‘Express Eviction’ law is not working.
A new law was introduced this month with the aim of speeding up the process which could benefit up to 900 landlords in the region. Experts predict, however, that the law is destined to fail due to a lack of manpower in the courts.
The new law, La Ley de Medidas de Agilización Procesal, aims to establish a set period for dealing with tenants who refuse to pay. After a tenant has been presented with a demand for payment they will have ten days to either settle the bill or vacate the property. If neither of these options are taken the tenant will have to provide reasons for non-payment or the courts will assign a date for eviction.
Under the previous laws the landlord would have to apply for a court date which could take months. The court would then decide when the tenant would be evicted and the property reclaimed.
The president of the College of Malaga Estate Agents, Cayetano Rengel, said “The new law is fabulous, as long as it works. Theoretically, in three months the non paying tenant will be on the street but the reality is that the courts are struggling.” He also said that increasing the speed of the eviction process would benefit the property industry as a whole adding “It’s a welcome change and should make an enormous difference, but not if it isn’t accompanied by an increase in court personnel.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Ruiz, manager of the Association to Promote Renting and access to Rented Property, said that the previous system didn’t work due to the lack of manpower in the courts and thinks this problem will continue and the new law wont be fully effective until human resources are increased.
Experts in Malaga estimate the current time from filing a lawsuit to eviction at around six months, much longer than the 60 days intended under the current law.