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Spanish bank group agrees to halt evictions

Members of the 'Platform for Mortgage Victims' celebrate inside and outside an apartment block on hearing that the planned eviction of Lourdes Segura and Isidro Pareja of the Dominican Republic had been suspended in Madrid, Monday Nov. 12, 2012. Spanish officials are opening talks aimed at creating new regulations governing the eviction of indebted homeowners, after the suicide of two people about to suffer that fate shocked the nation. Home owners, Spain's General Council of the Judiciary, a police union and even a bank have all said new legislation is needed to end evictions for such mortgage holders, especially during Spain's current economic crisis. The European Court of Justice's advocate general, Juliane Kokott, has said Spain's rules regarding evictions are at odds with European Union customer protection requirements. (AP Photo/Paul White)

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's Banking Association says it will halt evictions of indebted home owners in extreme need for the next two years.

The halt, which will be observed by Spain's largest banks, is aimed at taking the heat out of an increasingly dramatic trend affecting thousands of people caught in the economic crisis.

Conservative government officials will meet Monday with leading Socialist opposition party members to discuss new regulations governing evictions. The talks took on greater urgency after the suicide of a second person about to suffer eviction on Friday.

In Spain, home owners unable to make mortgage payments may be evicted but still remain liable to repay whatever value is left on the mortgage after the repossession. More than 350,000 people have lost their homes in this way over the past four years.