There are over 11 million empty houses in the EU – 3.4 million in Spain and 3,000 in Alava.

Putting empty houses to good use is a fantastic way to stop them from falling into disrepair and losing value. What is more it is beneficial for both the property owner and the community. That’s what we mean by empty homes.

In the Basque Country 4,826 refugees have applied for international protection. These are vulnerable people – families with pressing needs and problems with housing, employment, education and health care requiring an inclusive response. That’s what we mean by empty homes.

This is a problem to which Arteale has found a solution. Thanks to a process of drawing up what are known as conscious contracts we can offer an inclusive response to refugees needing a home. And we do this via public-private cooperation. Since 2017 Arteale Foundation has been advocating problem-solving justice through collaborative law based initiatives.

Arteale has collaborative law specialists trained to deal with the legal aspects of the property sector. They create a climate of trust and build bridges between owners of properties left empty out of uncertainty and fear and refugees with tremendous difficulties in accessing a rental property due to their vulnerability and the property sector’s inherent systemic difficulties.

Conscious Rental Agreements provide the solution by means of an innovative process in which owner and tenant get to know each other, share their values, understand why and what they want to rent the property for and explore each other’s respective needs and red lines. This process goes beyond simply drawing up a contract and includes a peace pact, key if trust is to be generated.

It is a networked, collaborative process in which volunteers, public, private and third sector organisations all play a vital role in the inclusion of refugees. The project started in Alava (the Basque province with the greatest number of empty homes %) and will be up-scaled and extended to the rest of the Basque Country and Europe.

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