Spanish eviction rules ‘unlawful’

Page last updated at 18:44 GMT+01:00, jueves, 14 marzo 2013
BBC

Spanish laws are too tough on homeowners who default on their mortgages, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The court found that Spanish legislation goes against EU law because it prevents judges declaring the terms of a loan agreement to be unfair.

Spanish rules make it hard for homeowners to contest an eviction by a bank.

Several recent suicides have been blamed on evictions.

An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain’s property market crashed five years ago, and Spanish banks suspended evictions for the most vulnerable people last November.

Spanish homeowners under threat of repossession cannot stop the eviction process while they fight contentious clauses in their mortgage contracts.

If they win a court case, they may seek compensation but will not necessarily recover their homes.

Some contracts contain clauses allowing for a sharp increase in interest if a borrower falls behind on payments and Spanish law also gives the lender the right to start accelerated proceedings to evict the borrower if a single payment is missed.

Even after a home is repossessed by the lender, the borrower can still be held liable for the remainder of the loan.

Moroccan evicted

In its judgement, the European Court of Justice said Spanish judges should have the power to halt evictions while homeowners take legal action against clauses in their contracts.

“Spanish legislation infringes EU law to the extent that it precludes the court which has jurisdiction to declare unfair a term of a loan agreement,” the court ruled.

A Barcelona judge had asked the European Court of Justice to decide on the case of a Moroccan man evicted from his home and unable to pay off the balance of a 138,000-euro (£120,000; $180,000) mortgage.

There have been demonstrations against the eviction laws and several people who had been evicted from their homes have killed themselves.

Reacting to the European Court of Justice decision, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said: “We commit ourselves to revise all aspects of the law that have been declared in breach of the European legislation.”

Campaigners against evictions welcomed the ruling.

“We are very happy with the news because it’s a clear show of support for what we have been demanding and denouncing for the past four years… that the procedure is illegal and violates fundamental rights,” said Ada Colau from Stop Evictions.

BBC © 2013

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THE BENETIFS OF GAMING

This weekend, hundreds of video games enthusiasts lined up in the cold, waiting 12 hours-plus to be the first to get their hands on Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U. And when the game Call of Duty: Black Ops was released in 2010, gamers around the world played it for more than 600 million hours in just the first 45 days. That is the equivalent of 68 years.

While some people worry about the popularity of video games, in today’s talk, brain scientist Daphne Bavelier suggests that gaming may be far more beneficial than we think (in moderation) — even if the game is all about shooting up the enemy.

“Most of you have thought, ‘Come on, can’t you do something more productive than shooting zombies?’ I’d like you to put this knee-jerk reaction in the context of how you’d feel if you found your girl playing Soduku,” Bavelier says. “In reasonable doses, action-packed shooter games have quite powerful positive effects on many different aspects of our behavior.”

In the lab, Bavelier and her team measure the impact of gameplay on the brain. While your mom might have told you that staring at screens will wreck your eyes, Bavelier’s lab actually found that playing 5 to 15 hours a week of video games correlates with better vision — and the ability to see more detail in the context of clutter.

It’s another common trope that gaming causes attention problems. However, Bavelier shows data that people who play video games are better able to keep track of objects around them — while the average person can track three objects effectively, video gamers can track six to seven objects. They’re also better able to multitask in general.

Initial studies suggest that these benefits may be trainable. In one study, Bavelier’s lab gave participants a test, and then asked them to play 10 hours of video games over a period of two weeks. When they came back for a post-test, their performance improved — and the improvement was still measurable five months later. Bavelier’s lab hopes to use these findings to create games that can improve eyesight or help keep the brains of senior citizens sharp.

7 talks on the benefits of gaming

GO TO LESSON IF YOU LIKE THIS ISSUE: LEVEL B2, Listening and writing an article.