Money talks: Santander agrees to sell two Añaza blocks of flats to Canarian Government for social housing as intended after threat of removal of €30m forces them to talks

Updated 19 October: The Canarian Government and Banco Santander have come to an agreement whereby the regional authority will buy the Añaza social housing. Clearly money talks, and the threat of nearly €30m being removed from the bank’s coffers by the Tenerife Cabildo and Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento has made Santander come to the table to talk. The move will also see the properties saved from the threatened grasp of vulture capital lenders and used for their intended purpose – dedicated homes for those who need social housing (what we would know as “council flats” in the UK).

Canrian President Fernando Clavijo made the announcement yesterday, saying that he had held meetings in Madrid with Banco Santander’s consejero delegado Rami Aboukhair, and that agreement had been reached to save the properties in Añaza, and along with it, the homes of vulnerable local residents who felt abused, threatened and victimised. Locals say they are utterly delighted with the outcome, which will be formalised next week in further meetings in Santa Cruz between the bank, the Canarian Government, the Tenerife Cabildo and Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento.

Original post 16 October: The banks are rarely in anyone’s good books and some are currently infuriating many by clogging up the 54 special courts set up to hear cases of people who had been overcharged because of illegal floor clauses in their mortgage. Latest figures show that of the 260,000 cases filed, only 52,000 have been heard with people waiting over a year for their case to reach court … and where some banks have found that their relatively easy-going early attitude of repaying on request simply served to encourage claims, they are now appealing virtually every claim even though 97% of cases heard so far have ruled against them.

And against this background of misery for so many, it’s good to see some public authorities actually striking back in support of some particularly disadvantaged families who are suffering their own aggravated form of misery. The case involves families in Añaza, the area of much social housing in Santa Cruz municipality near the CC Carrefour at the intersection of the TF1 and TF2. Under threats of eviction from Banco Santander to nearly 400 families whose vulnerable situation simply meant they couldn’t deal with what they allege are the costs and problems caused by the bank’s maladministration in managing their rentals and renewals of contracts on behalf of the Cabildo and Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento, both authorities hit back by threatening to remove every cent of public funds lodged with the bank … and today both have announced that they’ve done just that in the face of the bank’s intransigence.

Tenerife President Carlos Alonso said that the Cabildo funds amount to some €27m, while José Manuel Bermúdez, Santa Cruz Mayor, said that the municipal funds are €2m. Bermúdez said that the council could not just lie down and accept that the bank had completely ignored the authorities’ requests for information, let alone empathy. With not even the courtesy of a reply, the mayor said, Santander will no longer enjoy the council’s business until and unless it starts a dialogue to resolve the problem.

President Alonso himself reminded the bank that back in 2015 the Cabildo passed a resolution guaranteeing the right to housing and expressing solidarity with residents affected by evictions, a resolution which also urged all financial institutions which contracted with the Cabildo to stop evictions of those who were not guaranteed some residential alternative. That resolution itself allows the termination of such contracts and withdrawal of funds, Alonso stressed.

Locals threatened with eviction say that they’ve been refused renewal contracts to which they were entitled, and without which they cannot access the subsidies given to them for their social housing rental payments relating to two blocks of apartments which, it appears, could be sold to a “vulture fund” that is waiting to snap up the deal … and the homes and lives of some of the most vulnerable … despite the Canarian Government apparently having the legal right to a preferential sale. Maybe now the bank will talk, but no-one is holding their breath.

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