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