La Generalitat Withdraws its Housing Law Due to Lack of Support

9 April 2019 – Eje Prime

The Catalan government has decided to withdraw the decree law that it approved at the beginning of March containing urgent measures to improve access to housing.

The law was going to be put to the vote on Wednesday but in the end, the executive led by Quim Torra pulled the bill at the last minute due to a lack of support.

The plan is to present the law to the Parliament again following the elections on 26 May.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Valencia’s Gov’t Incentivises Homeowners To Rent Out Vacant Properties

16 March 2017 – Cadena Ser

The Valencian Generalitat will pay insurance to families and other people who let out the vacant homes they own. The measure forms part of the new Law for the Social Role of Housing, which entered into force at the beginning of this month. In addition, the regional government is also planning to impose sanctions on banks that do not offer up the vacant homes that they own for social housing purposes.

The Councillor for Housing, María José Salvador, visited Castellón yesterday, where she explained the main aspects of the new Housing Law in the Community of Valencia. Salvador highlighted that the Law’s objective is to incentivise the rental of properties owned by individuals that are not currently occupied.

To this end, the regional government will pay insurance to protect homeowners in the event that tenants fail to pay their rent or damage properties. On the other hand, the Councillor for Housing said that the new law provides for the imposition of sanctions on banks that do not hand over their vacant homes. Salvador said that the banks should report the homes they have vacant to avoid conflicts and possible fines. Unlike individual owners, the banks will not be covered by any insurance policies paid for by the government.

Even though the Law for the Social Role of Housing only entered into force two weeks ago, the Council has already opened several meeting points, both physical and digital, where interested parties can obtain more information about the initiative.

Original story: Cadena Ser

Translation: Carmel Drake

Constitutional Court Temporarily Supends Basque Housing Law

18 April 2016 – Cinco Días

The Constitutional Court (TC) has admitted the appeal filed by the central Government against the Basque Housing Law, which provides for the temporary expropriation of homes by banks, amongst other measures, and has suspended it as a precautionary measure whilst it decides whether or not it complies with the Constitution.

The Government filed an appeal of unconstitutionality against the Basque Housing Law, which, in addition to the aforementioned measure, makes provisions for other initiatives, such as the imposition of a fee on empty homes and the recognition of the subjective right to a home, which will be enforceable in court.

The Basque Parliament approved the Housing Law in June 2015, following lobbying by PSE and with the support of EH Bildu and UPyD. It was rejected by the PP and the PNV. In its appeal, Mariano Rajoy’s Government requested that the admission procedure for the law be temporarily suspended until the substance of the matter has been resolved, as it is allowed to do under the Organic Law of the TC.

The court of guarantees issued a ruling in which it declared the appeal admissible and suspended the law, which does not determine the final outcome, but rather grants a period of five months, which may be renewed, during which time the aforementioned law will not apply and a decision can be taken regarding its future.

In its acceptance and suspension ruling, the TC announced that it will transfer the file “to the Congress of Representatives and the Senate, through their respective Presidents, as well as the Basque Government and Basque Parliament, through their respective Presidents, so that they can make an appearance and formulate the allegations that they deem appropriate, within a period of fifteen days.

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colau Warns Of RE Bubble Danger In Barcelona

3 March 2016 – Público

The mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has warned about the imminent “danger of a real estate bubble” in the city, driven by an increase in the price of rental housing since 2014-2015.

The town hall has submitted a report about the increase in rental prices in Barcleona, whose results show an increase of more than 6% in rental housing across the city as a whole, especially where tourism is most concentrated. The neighbourhoods most affected by the rises are Les Corts (8.7%), Sant Martí (8.6%), Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (6.9%) and Eixample (6.7%). “Rental prices in Barcelona have risen by more than in any other city in Spain”, she said.

In light of this increase, the mayoress has asked both the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Spanish State to act to limit future rental price rises, especially in areas where tourism demand is the highest, and to modify housing regulations to “avoid a new speculative cycle”. “We want to raise the alarm because the housing laws have not been modified and that is facilitating new speculation about the housing market, which means that rental prices are increasing in areas where income levels have not improved”, she said at a press conference.

Colau made reference to Germany as an example of good practice in the protection of the right to housing, given that there, the “State allows limits to be placed on rental prices”, depending on the income levels in the areas where prices are on the rise. “We urge the relevant authorities, at both the Catalan and Spanish level, to follow the European example regarding limitations on rental prices in places where there is significant residential demand”, she said.

The mayoress also acknowledged that progress has been made in the battle against evictions and the increase in rental housing in Catalunya, thanks to the approval of law 24 2015, by popular initiative. But, according to Colau, this regulation still needs to be applied to “put an end to mortgage foreclosures and to put a stop to the speculation”. Even so, she considers that “collaboration with the State is necessary” and she took the opportunity to denounce the limited profile the housing crisis is having in the investiture debate.

The mayoress and the councillor for housing, Josep Maria Montaner, announced that the Town Hall has increased the number of homes in the city’s public housing stock by 255, thanks to acquisitions from financial institutions. It is the second batch of homes that the banks have transferred or sold to the town hall, below market value, to increase the city’s pool of rental housing and to resolve the social emergency. Specifically, 50 flats have been transferred in 8 years, 131 homes have been purchased below the market price and the right of first refusal has been granted on another 28 homes.

With these, the municipal government has now obtained 455 homes from the banks for inclusion in the public housing stock, during the course of its mandate (in addition to the 200 granted by Sareb and the 50 from CaixaBank). (…).

Original story: Público (by Laura Safont)

Translation: Carmel Drake

País Vasco Will Tax Empty Homes And May Expropriate Properties From Banks

5 May 2015 – Expansión

The Socialist Party, EH Bildu and UPyD are going to add their votes together in the Basque Parliament to push through a new housing law in Euskadi, which recognises the subjective right to have access to a home. The law will result in the forced and temporary expropriation of the use of homes owned by banks, as well as the introduction of a fee for homes that have been empty for two years.

This initiative – which stems from when Patxi López was the Basque regional president – has been rejected by the PP and the PNV, which governs the País Vasco. Nevertheless, the support of the three opposition groups guarantees 38 votes against the 37 of the nationalist and popular parties.

Through this law, Euskadi will become the first autonomous community to recognise the subjective right to housing, in addition to (the subjective right to) health and education, according to the socialists.

The text provides for the possibility of expropriating empty homes, and those with tenants that cannot afford to pay the rent, from banks for a maximum period of three years, even though this measure has been suspended by the Constitutional Court in other autonomous communities. Within five years, all public housing will be put up for rent. The fee for empty homes will be €10 per square metre per year, an amount that will increase by 10% per year, up to triple the initial fee.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake