Monday, February 3, 2014

Mi casa es su casa

Or perhaps, está. Russ Roberts should call Friederich Hayek's office and report this self-organizing in Spain's real estate market;
It's a little-known market, but it really exists, and it is expanding: sales and rentals of casas okupadas. This is the term used in Spain for homes lying empty after the original residents were evicted for defaulting on their mortgage, or because they were bought by a bank and never inhabited, or even because it was subsidized housing that had not yet been assigned to a low-income family; in any case, all these homes end up being occupied illegally by squatters, known in Spain as okupas.
But now, squatters are not just those who pull down a door and move in by themselves. Instead, organized gangs in Madrid are taking over these vacant properties first, and offering to either sell or rent them to would-be squatters. "Purchasing" one of these apartments costs anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 euros, while renting is more expensive in the long run, since the gangs ask for 200 to 400 euros a month.
In exchange, they guarantee customers immediate access to the home as well as free electricity, gas and water services, and some even offer free heating (typically, this is courtesy of other building residents who see their own bills rise mysteriously). The new residents don't even have to pay building maintenance fees. Their situation is guaranteed until a court rules to have them evicted. But months could elapse before that occurs, if not years.
Property rights will out!

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