22 June 2017 – El Confidencial
The Community of Madrid will abolish the framework that allows tenants of social housing properties to be granted an option to buy their homes. In other words, those who wish to access a subsidised home may now only do so on a rental basis or as owners, but they may not rent and then subsequently purchase the home that they have lived in as tenants, in a change to the legislation applicable until now. That is according to the draft bill that will be presented today in the plenary session of the Assembly of Madrid and which will grant tenants greater guarantees in the event that their homes are transferred or sold to a third party.
According to José María García Gómez, Director General of Housing and Renovations at the Community of Madrid, this decision is motivated by “the change in the cycle that the housing market in Spain has experienced, which means that in some areas of Madrid, the price of private housing is less than the price of social housing. Nowadays, this option is not as attractive, it is a system that has been made obsolete and which goes against the real estate cycle, hence the decision to eliminate it”, he added.
In fact, according to data from the Community of Madrid, “only 10%-15% of those who choose to rent with the option to buy end up exercising that right. In some cases, this happens because the tenants are unable to obtain financing, but in other cases, it is because they prefer to continue to rent”, he said. “The majority are renewing their rental contracts, whilst others have left their homes”.
According to sources at the Community of Madrid, the new measure will enter into force once it has been published in the Community of Madrid’s Official Gazette – the plenary session will be held today, where the measure is expected to be approved – but the same sources clarify that it will not affect those developments or plots of land that have already been granted that classification.
No more sales of subsidised homes to vulture funds
The new rules will also include two changes that are intended to protect tenants. To understand them, it is necessary to explain that although some subsidised homes are owned by the town halls and regional governments, others are owned privately (…).
When homes are owned by the Community of Madrid, they may not be sold to third parties other than the tenants or their successors. However, according to José María García Gómez, “the intention of the government led by Cristina Cifuentes (pictured above) is that not a single social housing property be sold. Nevertheless, in the event that a decision is taken to sell, then the tenants would have the right of first refusal. In other words, they would have preference over any other buyer”, he explained. “The idea is to avoid selling off public assets”.
By contrast, in the case of homes that have been constructed by private developers, the new law establishes a preferential acquisition right for legal entities with “a recognised commitment to the management of subsidised housing for social purposes, with the obligation for the new owner to abide by the conditions, terms and maximum rents established, subrogating the rights and obligations (…)”.
These measures will prevent these subsidised homes from ending up in the hands of the so-called “vulture funds”, for example, like has happened in the past (…).
Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)
Translation: Carmel Drake