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first trial against a neighbor who refuses to leave Casa Orsola

First trial against a Neighbor who refuses to leave Casa Orsola

Dozens of residents and representatives of housing defense organizations gathered early in the morning in front of the City of Justice with banners and a loudspeaker. They had a weighty reason. This Monday the first trial was held against a resident of the block of flats known as Casa Orsola, in Esquerra de l'Eixample in Barcelona, ​​who refuses to leave the property despite the fact that the investment fund which bought the building a little over a year ago, Lioness Inversiones, does not want to renew its lease.

Josep Torrent has lived in Casa Orsola for twenty years and has always paid the rent on time. He has gone to court with the desire that the new owner of the block of flats agrees to negotiate. On the other hand, Lioness Inversiones does not seem willing to give up. Torrent and four other neighbors have been reported. At the moment, he has already set a date for Torrent's eviction: February 14. The case has been seen for judgment.

Casa Orsola

We feel helpless. There is no law to protect us", lamented Torrent before entering the court. Some neighbors hugged him or patted him on the back to encourage him. "What the neighbors want is to continue living there and paying the rent", summed up the spokesperson of the Tenants' Union, Enric Aragonès, who is one of those who have gathered at the gates of the City of Justice. "There is enormous greed", he added in reference to the investment funds that acquire properties in Barcelona with a clear speculative desire.

Luxury homes

The Tenants' Union and the Left Housing Network of the Eixample denounce that Lioness Inversiones aims to evict all the residents of Casa Orsola in order to rehabilitate the flats and turn them into luxury homes, rent or whose selling price will increase significantly. The investment fund acquired the property in October 2021 and sent a burofax to the neighbors notifying them that it would not be renewing their lease.

Casa Orsola is at the crossroads of Calàbria and Consell de Cent streets, one of the areas that will become one of the superblocks that the Barcelona City Council is building in the city and that will cause the homes to be revalued. There are 27 floors in the building. Some tenants have old rent contracts and therefore the new owner of the estate cannot evict them. Instead, those on a temporary contract are sold. Some have left. Others have decided to unite and resist. Josep Torrent's contract was terminated last April 30, but he continues to pay the 700 euros monthly rent in court to put them at the disposal of the property.

The trial started late because the computer system in the room where it was supposed to be held was not working. Finally, it was moved to another room, where the press was not allowed to enter, even though it was a public hearing. "The lawyer for Lioness Inversiones has complained that we have turned the case into a social and city problem when, according to him, it is a simple contract termination," explained the lawyer from the legal group of the Union of Tenants, represented by Josep Torrent and prefers to remain anonymous. The lawyer has appealed to the investment fund's "will to negotiate". The problem is that legally there is nothing that compels him to negotiate, no matter what the ruling says.

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