1707817183 A Vulture Fund39s First Contact With the Neighbors It Wants

A Vulture Fund's First Contact With the Neighbors It Wants to Kick Out: “We're Trying to Stop Them From Going Out on the Street With Their Asses in the Air”

It looks like a neighborhood meeting in the doorway, but it's not. It's a very special visit. The conversation is friendly, but the content is not. In reality, two strangers, a man and a woman, convey to some of the estate's residents, with all the kindness they are capable of, that the best thing they can do is accept what they are about to tell them and look for it a house. On another page.

The scene takes place at number 7 Tribulete Street in Lavapiés. It's February 2nd, 9:45 a.m.

“We introduce ourselves: I am a social worker and this is my partner Luis,” says María José.

— I'm Luis, representative of Elix.

“I will be responsible for accompanying the families and we wanted to talk to each of you if possible and at least provide information…”

There will be a moment when Luis will raise the tone of his speech because he notices that the neighbors are skeptical.

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“Here they are selling you the hype that we are going to arrive with a saw and a knife to throw people out of their homes and that is a lie.” They are being told that the contracts will not be renewed.

To these words, one of the neighbors replies: “It means throwing people out of their house.”

The conversation is part of a recording made available by EL PAÍS in which you can hear two representatives of the real estate company Elix Rental Housing trying to convince the residents of a building in Lavapiés that their best option is to move out of their building to get out of houses in which they have rented for more than 40 years before being kicked out. This will be the next step for the company to take over the 54-home block, and a strategy that dozens of investment funds in the capital have pursued. Approach the neighbors and individually offer them a handful of euros in exchange for them leaving.

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Sources from the company confirmed to this newspaper that this conversation took place because, due to the “media noise”, the company made the decision to present itself to the neighbors as “interested in purchasing the building” and “to look for agreed solutions, that take this into account.” Account “Takes into account the specific situation of each tenant.” “During Elix's more than 20 years of experience in situations of this type, the needs of each individual tenant have always been taken into account and financial contributions have been made when it makes sense to find solutions “Find a solution that satisfies everyone involved,” we explained pointedly.

Then, as in other blocks that Elix has acquired, they will renovate the building, build luxury houses and offer the same houses that Antolín, José, Luis or Blanca live in today, for rent at (at least) double the price. Actual price. As to what the next step is for them, the company explains: “In many cases, the renovations were carried out while the tenants were inside, that is, without them having to leave their homes.” On other occasions, tenants were assisted in searching for similar apartments helped.” They have not responded as to whether there is a way to ensure that they can continue to live there after the renovation.

The residents of the block at Calle del Tribulete 7, in the Lavapiés neighborhood (Madrid), are facing termination of their contract after promising to buy Elix.The residents of the block at Calle del Tribulete 7, in the Lavapiés neighborhood (Madrid), are threatened with termination of their contract after promising to buy Elix.Juan José Martínez

This real estate fund, which wants to acquire two more blocks in Madrid – another in Tetuán and another in Ciudad Lineal – is owned by AltamarCAM Partners, whose president is Claudio Aguirre, cousin of the former regional president Esperanza Aguirre. A few months ago he sent his introductory letter to about 50 residents of 22 Galileo Street in Chamberí: a fax informing them that their contract had an expiration date.

But now he has changed his method. And instead of a burofax, send two people who are ready to teach a lesson in kindness.

It is possible that the situation will become complicated on the property at 7 Tribulete Street, in the heart of the Lavapiés district. This building has become a trench against real estate speculation and rent abuse. When they learned from the press that the company wanted to acquire the block, they began organizing. They had closely followed the fate of other residents of the neighborhood and other parts of Madrid, such as those on Galileo Street. They held meetings, called for tenants' associations and performed. They've been preparing for weeks. Then, on Friday, February 2, “the enemy” rang the doorbell.

Jose Santamaría and Blanca Andreu, former tenants of the Tribulete block, 7. Jose Santamaría and Blanca Andreu, former tenants of the Tribulete block, 7. Juan José Martínez

And this “enemy” uses other types of intermediaries. They are no longer men in suits. Now there are people who have cut their teeth in social movements for the right to housing, who have stopped evictions, and have therefore already been on the other side. This is the case of María José, who presents herself as a “social worker” and is well versed in these concerns – the company has confirmed to EL PAÍS that she works for them and that “she has a clear approach to the most appropriate option to find”. In any case.” “-. Although he arrives with the same goal: to rid the block of inconvenient tenants. When a neighbor warns that this is exactly what she is looking for, she replies:

—You should not use these terms. Look, I have been living in Vallecas with my parents for 30 years, my grandmother was already there and the contract expired and I had to leave. You can't tell me the history of housing in Spain because I've lived here for 40 years. You can see how my journey is, and my journey is not coming in as a girl who just got out of college and starts imparting cheap pedagogy to the people around me, that's not it. It's the system. It's the system.

Elix's visit this Friday should pave the way for a final takeover, which will be voted on this Tuesday, February 13th, as explained in the recording. “The purchase has not yet taken place. “We carry out the normal process of purchasing a building, which involves marking the building before the deed of sale,” company sources confirm to EL PAÍS. The company's representatives assured neighbors that they had already paid part of the total amount; in the recording they say about 20 to 30 percent. One of them makes it clearer:

—The only thing I can tell you: If you can make an agreement that might interest you and you yourself can accept it, then the company will see how far it goes, to what extent it is profitable and in to what extent all the people involved in winning go. You can say, “Damn, my lease is up in six months and I can, to put it bluntly, accept 10,000 euros to help me find another contract…”.

“Yes, to go somewhere else and charge more rent,” replies a union member who arrives later skeptically.

“Well, it’s a help…” says the company representative.

Antolín Sánchez, first generation surrogate mother, with the portrait of his grandmother from whom he inherited the rental agreement.Antolín Sánchez, first generation surrogate mother, with the portrait of his grandmother from whom he inherited the rental agreement. Juan Jose Martinez

During the conversation, the neighbors demand that the negotiations be conducted together because they fear that they want to divide the neighbors, although the envoys insist that they will achieve nothing this way. The company, in turn, answers this newspaper: “Our willingness to examine every case is unreserved.” Each tenant’s circumstances are specific and therefore often require individual solutions.” One of the mediators explained it to them that day:

“What we offer is an individual negotiation with each individual to offer people that help based on that person's situation and the current contract that they have. The risk of collective bargaining is that in the end neither one nor the other is achieved and you end up with a stalemate in which it is no longer so easy to leave the house.

Built more than a century ago, 54 families live in the block, four of them with old rents, a privilege for contracts signed between 1950 and 1985 that offers advantages such as a rent freeze or, in the event of a minimal increase, the possibility of inheritance contract or the right to preferential purchase and rent. This group includes the couple Jose Santamaría, 71, and Blanca Andreu Roca, 65. They pay less than 300 euros in rent. Santamaría has lived here since she was two years old, and her wife has lived here since 1981, three years before her marriage. Over the years, bathrooms, showers, flooring and lights were installed as the house did not have these facilities. Others earn the subsistence minimum, some already pay more than 80% of their income in the form of rent of around 400 euros, which they cannot find in any other apartment in the capital.

The intermediaries remain stubborn: they will have to leave empty-handed anyway. “You can’t tell us to go out on the street with our butts in the air,” says one angry neighbor. “No, we want to prevent them from going out on the streets with their butts in the air, so we want to sit down with you and talk,” replies one of the mediators.

The next battle of this neighborhood campaign against the Elix fund will take place this Tuesday, February 13, when the signing of the capital increase for the purchase of three blocks in Madrid, including Tribulete, 7, is scheduled. The neighbors have prepared a mobilization that day from Lavapiés to the Elix offices at 51 Serrano Street, in the heart of the Salamanca district.

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