A 78-YEAR-OLD woman has been evicted from the home in Barcelona where she has been living since 1968 over an unpaid debt, sparking outrage on social media. Blanca was removed from her flat in the Gotic neighbourhood on Thursday by the Catalan regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra.
The eviction came after Blanca lost a long battle to stay in her home, after the owner of the property and the local council failed to reach a deal that would have seen her stay.
“Today, Blanca Espinosa, a 78-year-old pensioner, has been evicted from the Gotic neighbourhood in Barcelona for an €88 debt,” said writer Fonsi Loaiza on X (formerly Twitter). “This is terrorism.”
“If a squatter moves into your house and is vulnerable there is no way of getting them out,” wrote another user on X with the name Muy Mona. “But if an old lady doesn’t have the money to pay a rent rise, they pull her out of her house after 50 years without caring if she is vulnerable or not.”
The problems for Blanca began six years ago, according to Spanish press reports, when she discovered a leak in the flat and called on the owners to fix it.
According to legal documents filed in the eviction attempt, the landlady claimed that her tenant took advantage of the situation to demand more improvements, such as ‘changes to the water, electricity and gas systems, as well as the renewal of some furniture and household appliances’.
Under Spanish law, the owner was obliged to accept these requests, but she added a clause that obliged Blanca to pay an extra €88.80 in rent each month, something that she refused to do, according to newspaper Público.
A first attempt to evict Blanca came in November, at which point the story was covered in Spanish media.
In response, British concert pianist James Rhodes, who is a long-term resident of Madrid, tried to intervene and pay two months’ rent for Blanca, but the landlord refused the offer.
Rhodes claimed that the response made it obvious that ‘the only thing they are interested in is converting the apartment into a tourist flat, without caring about the risk for Blanca, who is clearly vulnerable’.
The eviction attempt failed three months’ ago, but now has been successful, meaning that Blanca will have to go and live in a guesthouse until the local council can find a place for her in an assisted living home for seniors.