A new ruling by Europe’s highest court could make it harder for Spanish banks to evict homeowners.
The European Court of Justice says the country’s mortgage laws are too harsh for borrowers who are having trouble paying.
Spain’s deep recession and high unemployment prompted a housing crash.
The rise in forced evictions in turn provoked much anger. The European decision backs Spanish judges who have halted expulsions when homeowners contest abusive clauses in their contracts.
“We’ve always said what’s needed is a change in the law. It can’t be right that justice being done depends on an overload of civic responsibility or judges’ activity or the European Court. We need a fair law that will stop violating basic rights,” said Ada Colau, spokeswoman for the Platform of Mortgage Victims.
Several suicides have been linked to people losing their homes.
Activists have welcomed the ruling, but some analysts say it will only apply to a small percentage of cases and will do little to alleviate Spain’s chronic mortgage problem.
Lenders have opposed any relaxation of the rules, fearing they would be denied access to funds.
The government says the European court’s decision will be incorporated into Spanish law.