Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

Barcelona Forces Banks to Turn Repossessed Homes Into Affordable Housing

To address a housing shortage, Spain’s second city says bank-owned properties can no longer sit empty.
A street in Barcelona's Old Town District, where one of the apartments due for city takeover is located.
A street in Barcelona's Old Town District, where one of the apartments due for city takeover is located.Albert Gea/Reuters

Don’t let an apartment you own sit empty, or the city may turn it into affordable housing for someone else. That’s the message this month from Barcelona, as it revives a controversial policy to force banks to do something with properties they’ve repossessed.

Indeed, Barcelona has announced that it will appropriate five empty bank-owned properties that have been unoccupied for more than two years. That’s potentially just the start of it—there are more than 2,000 unoccupied homes across the city, much of it still fallout from the 2007 financial crisis.