Madrid Reduces Inheritance Taxes on Real Estate

28 October 2019 – Last week, the government of Madrid approved the first part of a promised tax cut. The new regulations increase the capital-gains tax bonus on inheritances of property; reducing the general Property and Real Estate Tax (IBI) rate. The government also reduced waste collection fees.

Immediate descendants and spouses can access the benefit, which is expected to save roughly 13.62 million euros per year for a total of 14,000 taxpayers. Currently, the government applies a 95% reduction to real estate taxes for properties with a cadastral value of up to 60,000 euros.

The government also increased the benefit from 75% to 85% for properties with a cadastral value of between 60,000 and 100,000 euros, rising from 50% to 70% for

Original Story: ABC Madrid – Marta R. Domingo

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

The Government’s New Rental Act Limits Annual Price Increases to CPI

1 March 2019 – Eje Prime

On Friday, the Government approved a new Rental Act containing urgent measures for the rental sector, including a limit on annual price rises for new contracts to CPI. However, in the end, no IBI rebate incentive was included to reward landlords for maintaining rental prices below the reference price index.

The measure to limit rental price increases will take effect for new contracts signed from the date that the law enters into force.  Moreover, the law provides for the preparation of a state-managed house price reference index within eight months, which will be updated annually.

In addition, the law extends the period for extending rental contracts to five years, from the current term of three years.

Original story: Eje Prime

Summary/Translation: Carmel Drake

The PSPV Proposes a Housing Plan to Mobilise 4,500 Rental Homes in Valencia

23 February 2019 – Valencia Plaza

The socialist candidate for the Mayor of Valencia, Sandra Gómez (pictured below, left), has proposed a comprehensive housing plan for the city that would mobilise 4,500 homes, through new social housing units (VPO) and empty homes enabled for rental (…).

In a recent speech, the candidate for mayor explained that the plan to mobilise 4,500 homes includes empty homes. “Thanks to the Generalitat’s courage, we are going to have a map with which to operate to identify the large owners of homes, those who own more than ten empty properties”. With this, the socialists propose “an increase in the IBI charge for those empty homes that are not included in the rental market”.

In addition, to achieve the objective of this plan, they will demand “the maximum possible social housing in the city’s new developments, as we are already doing with developments such as Benimaclet, where 30% of the new builds will be VPO” (…).

And, as a third axis, Gómez has proposed that the administration “acts to promote the park of affordable housing that the city of Valencia currently lacks”. She recalled that there are initiatives such as the 300 public homes, being promoted by Aumsa and “the more than 1,000 that are going to be promoted by mobilising land from SEPE, as agreed with the Government of Spain this week. Nevertheless, the Town Hall has to do more” (…).

Original story: Valencia Plaza 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Castilla & León Reclassifies 28,315 hectares of Buildable Land Back to Rural Use

6 October 2018 – El Confidencial

Torquemada in Palencia has 989 inhabitants and sufficient buildable land on which to construct 162,000 homes. Coca in Segovia has 1,863 inhabitants and sufficient buildable land on which to construct 114,000 homes. Valladolid capital has 299,715 inhabitants and sufficient land on which to construct 217,293 new homes. They are just three simple examples of the urban planning absurdity seen in recent decades that is still present in almost every municipality in Spain.

Since the 1980s, and especially since the beginning of this century, town halls, in particular those in rural areas, have reclassified thousands of hectares of rural land to buildable land, on mass, in the hope that, during the boom times there would be a bureaucracy saving for the property developers, which would encourage them to invest, in both homes and industry. But the bubble burst (…) and thousands of buildable hectares were left over, converted today in a kind of weird joke.

Now, the Junta de Castilla y León wants to recover all of that land to return it to what it always was, agricultural and forestry land without any pretensions of being home to long rows of terraced houses or enormous industrial estates. The regional government has established three phases for the change of its land uses on mass.

It undertook the first phase in 2016, converting 10,000 hectares, and on 18 October this year, it will undertake the second phase, affecting 28,315 hectares, equivalent to half of the island of Ibiza or more than half of La Rioja. In total, 87 municipalities including several provincial capitals with capacity for one million potential homes that will now never see the light. The final mass change is planned for 2022. Goodbye then to the reckless optimism of the past; hello to a different future, one characterised by depopulation, which threatens to erase thousands of towns from the map (…).

“This is not Marbella, it was never realistic to think that large companies or property developers were going to come here to build homes. We have an industrial estate with five companies and we have lost 100 inhabitants in the last five years. A town cannot work miracles”, explains Jorge Domingo González, mayor of Torquemada, the rural municipality most affected by this second wave, which will modify 208 areas in Castilla y León (only 45 of them are industrial plots of land) on the basis of the urban planning law approved in 2014. “All of that land was reclassified not to build homes but to facilitate investment (…)”, explains the mayor of Torquemada.

Even so, many mayors did take advantage of the change to approve large residential developments, always under the suspicion, and sometimes rightly so, that they were going to be built with the sole objective of speculation and receiving an illegal bonus. That is where hundreds of ghost urbanisations in the middle of nowhere stemmed from; many are half-built, some even lack roads, but all have now been converted into a burden for municipalities, which do not have enough money to demolish them (…).

The town halls will not see any great benefits from this measure, but the owners of the land will do, since they will save a decent amount by no longer having to pay IBI (property tax) on urban land but having to do so on rural land, which is much cheaper. “In this way, we avoid uncertainties that have no sense in being maintained”, said Marinero…..

There is no record of any owner submitting claims against this change of use, although they have had four years to do so. That in itself is a clear sign that times have changed and that no one in the towns expects to win the lottery. If anything, they now just dream of not disappearing, to avoid being dragged away by the rural exodus.

Original story: El Confidencial (by David Brunat)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry of Finance Prepares an IBI Hike that will Affect 1,200 Town Halls in 2019

1 October 2018 – El Independiente

The Ministry of Finance has already prepared the list of town halls that will review the cadastral values of their urban properties in 2019. That list includes almost 1,200 town halls, equivalent to 15% of the total. That is according to an Order published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on Saturday, which also reveals that the update coefficients will be established in next year’s Budget Law, which the Government has not presented yet.

Therefore, despite not having published its annual accounts yet and with the threat that, once they are published, it may have to adopt a more restrictive public deficit path, thanks to the situation it inherited from the previous PP Government, the ministry led by María Jesús Montero has published the mandatory order proposed in the Law to apply possible cadastral value rises that will impact the amount raised by Town Halls through taxes such as the Property Tax (also known as the ‘Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles’ or IBI).

The town halls affected include Badalona (Barcelona), Cádiz, Santander, Guadalajara, Avilés (Asturias), Granada, Huesca, Lorca (Murcia), Coslada (Madrid), Las Rozas (Madrid) and Valencia.

The State’s annual accounts for 2019 are incognito and so it remains to be seen how this review of cadastral values is going to be instrumented.

Moreover, by virtue of the coefficient that is applied, the cadastral value of any given home may increase or decrease. The reason is that the coefficients are established on the basis of the year of entry into force of the last presentation of municipal values, which is basically the document that contains the criteria that are used to carry out the most recent valuations in the region.

Currently, the price per metre squared of private homes amounts to €1,587.9, the highest value since the second quarter of 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Development, which bases its figures on appraisal values.

From this perspective, in general terms, homes valued since that date will have increased in value, whilst those valued between 2008 and 2012, will have decreased. On the basis of the years of entry into force of the values, around one third of the municipalities included on this list belong to the latter group.

A decrease in the number of reviews

The cadastral value of a home is the reference value on which taxes are paid on it at a municipal level for purpose of the Property Tax (IBI), which is one of the main sources of financing for Town Halls.

In this way, unless town halls decide to introduce changes in the tax, bonuses or exemptions, increases in the cadastral value of properties typically mean a heavier burden on the pockets of citizens and, in parallel, more revenues for the town halls.

In order to carry out this review, the interested town halls must make a request each year to apply the coefficients that they establish. To do that, three requirements must be fulfilled: at least five years must have passed since the entry into force of the cadastral values resulting from the previous valuation; there must be substantial differences between the market value and those that serve as the basis for determining the cadastral values; and the town hall must file its request by 31 May.

Having fulfilled those criteria, 1,200 town halls have requested a cadastral review next year, which represents a 14% decrease compared to the number recorded last year. Moreover, that figure equals almost half the number recorded in 2007, when up to a third of all town halls, around 2,500, proceeded to apply new coefficients (…).

Original story: El Independiente (by David García-Maroto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Can Spain’s Rental Price Hikes Be Contained?

6 February 2017 – El País

(…) A strong increase in demand and a shortage of supply have led to increases in rental prices, which soared by 15.9% in Spain last year, according to Idealista. Barcelona and Madrid recorded historical rises, with increases of 16.5% and 15.6%, respectively.

No-one in the sector is talking about a bubble, but rather about an imbalance between supply and demand. Nevertheless, this mismatch has raised alarm bells in the two hardest hit cities. The Town Halls of Madrid and Barcelona have asked the Government to change the Law governing Urban Leases (LAU) in order to regulate prices and prevent disproportionate increases.

And the Government of Cataluña has gone even further: it is going to punish landlords who charge expensive rents. The regional government is going to establish a rental price reference index in the Spring, which will establish orientative prices per square metre, based on the size of the home, age of the building, characteristics of the home and its location. Work will be performed on the mathematical formula over the next two months.

Carrot and stick

The tool will reward or penalise ownera through the tax system, in the form of the Property Tax (IBI), in the autonomous section of the Income Tax Return (IRPF) and in renovation work. Moreover, empty home owners may even avoid fines if they rent their properties out in line with the “benchmark price”. “If the rent is lower than the reference index, then the incentive will be positive and if the rent is higher, then the incentive will be negative”, explain sources in the Housing Department at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) – which (…) at the guidance of its director, Sergio Nasarre, has coordinated the working group whose conclusions form the basis of the Generalitat’s new initiative.

The rental market is gaining weight in Spain. “It has gone from accounting for 17.9% of the market in 2001 to 22.3% in 2015”, said José Peral, Director of Sales and Marketing at Solvia, who notes that the rental sector is undergoing a seismic change. Moreover, we are seeing “market convergence towards average volumes and prices that are more aligned with those observed in other European countries”, said David Calzada, CEO at the Socimi Vbare. Calzada expects prices to continue to rise in Madrid and Barcelona, at a sustained, albeit more contained rate. Oscar Bellette, CEO at Inveriplus, forecasts that rental prices will rise by 7% in both cities this year.

Despite this, the creators of the index consider that Spain still has the smallest residential rental market in Western Europe. Moreover, “it is dysfunctional, expensive and poor quality in nature; 46% of homes are rented on the black market and more than 3.5 million homes are empty”, says Nasarre. (…).

The Catalan method, the first of its kind in Spain, is based on a methodology that has worked in Berlin for years, where 95% of rents are open-ended. The index fulfils its objective in the German capital: indexed rents rise by between 2.7% and 3% per year, whilst those not subject to the index increase by between 5% and 10%, p.a., says Jutta Hartmann, from the Berlin Tenants’ Association. (…).

Nevertheless, the initiative is generating a lot of questions and concerns amongst agents in the sector in Spain. “It is a useless and counterproductive measure, which will lead to an increase in black market activity and in the number of empty homes”, says Sergi Gargallo, Director General at Alquiler Seguro. (…).

Nevertheless, all of the agents agree that the market will benefit from professionalization, thanks to the arrival of companies such as Socimis. “In Spain, 3.8 million primary residence homes are rented out and 97% of those are owned by individuals”, says José Peral, at Solvia.

Original story: El País (by Sandra López Letón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

New Tax Rules Increase IBI Charge In 11 Provincial Capitals From 2017

5 December 2016 – Expansión

Property owners in some of Spain’s largest cities will start the new year with a tax blow. The Royal Decree that was approved by the Council of Ministers on Friday and published in the BOE on Saturday contains…a measure that will significantly increase the Tax on Real Estate Assets (IBI) in hundreds of towns, including in eleven provincial capitals, specifically: Valencia, Alicante, Badajoz, Cádiz, Córdoba, Teruel, Granada, Jaén, Huelva, Tarragona and Huesca.

This tax will accrue from 1 January 2017 and will depend on the cadastral values, given that they form the taxable base for the IBI calculation. The Tax Authorities have approved updates to these values in 2,452 towns, i.e. in almost one third of the towns in Spain.

The Town Halls set the cadastral values on the basis of value proposals performed by the Catastro. However, all of the property values (homes, garages, premises, offices, hotels, etc) affected by proposals made prior to 2004 will be revised upwards, with coefficients ranging from 1.03 to 1.08, according to the Royal Decree from the Tax Authorities.

For example, in Córdoba, whose valuations were last reviewed in 1995, the update will be 1.06. Thus, if a home had a cadastral value of €100,000 in 2016, it will have a cadastral value of €106,000 in 2017. The IBI payments will increase without the need to raise the tax rate. In Valencia, whose valuations were last reviewed in 1998, the coefficient will be 1.04.

Most of the towns that requested the review, which seeks to reflect property values to 50% of their market price, did so to increase their coefficients and, ultimately, to increase the IBI raised without changing the tax rate . Many of the affected towns have not reviewed their values since the real estate boom, or even earlier. In fact, numerous town halls have not updated their valuations since the 1980s.

The valuations last performed between 2005 and 2011 will be updated with a coefficient of less than one, of between 0.87 and 0.92. They include four provincial capitals: Almería, Santander, Lleida and Ávila.

The reason for the measure

(…) For the avoidance of doubt, the Royal Decree explains that the measure “is necessary given that it contributes to strengthening municipal financing, tax consolidation and budgetary stability for local entities”. In other words, it is a necessary measure to balance the deficit. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Constitutional Court Suspends Tax On Empty Homes

4 May 2016 – Expansión

The Constitutional Court (TC) has suspended three laws approved by the Catalan Parliament, after they were appealed by the Government at the end of April. The laws in question are: the law that taxes empty homes, the local government law and the law for equality between men and women. The appeals have been accepted for processing, which means that the laws themselves have been temporarily suspended. Nevertheless, the acceptance for processing and the temporary suspension do not represent a ruling of any kind regarding the outcome of the appeal.

According to the acting Justice Minister, Rafael Catalá, who spoke at a press conference following the Council of Ministers meeting held on 22 April, the Government is challenging the law that establishes a tax on empty homes because that taxable event is already taxed under the current system for financing local governments, which provides for surcharges of up to 50% under IBI. (…)

The appeal against this Catalan law is surprising if we consider the fact that the Stability Program, which the Government has just submitted to Brussels, praises this law as one of the measures that the regional Governments are using to try to guarantee revenues “such as the tax on empty homes and the tax on tourist accommodation”, it says.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hotel Las Palomas Sold To Palia Hotels For €13.1M

18 April 2016 – Diario Sur

On Thursday, the iconic Las Palomas Hotel in Torremolinos was awarded in an auction to Palia Hotels, a Mallorcan chain that already runs another property on the Costa del Sol, the former Roc de Benalmádena Costa (now called Hotel Palia La Roca). The Balearic group has committed to pay €13,100,000 for the property and its main facilities with the aim of renovating them and reopening the hotel. The auction was conducted in person in the presence of a notary and was “very exciting”, according to the lawyer Ana Alonso, the bankruptcy administrator of the company that used to operate Las Palomas. “Four candidates were involved and the two highest offers were selected to participate in the final phase, and the bids then gradually increased”, she explained. It was such a close bid that the losing company, also Mallorcan based, offered €13,050,000.

Palia will now have to wait for a month for the acquisition deeds to be signed. If any problems arise with the buyer during that period, then the company that offered the second highest bid would have the opportunity to purchase the property. For Alonso, the result is definitely “good news”, given that the money obtained from the auction will be used to pay off the debts with the Tax Authorities, Social Security, the Town Hall of Torremolinos (which will receive €3.5 million for the IBI that the hotel owed and the profit from the sale) and the employees.

Yesterday, (the trade union) Comisiones Obreras expressed its satisfaction because “the almost 100 staff will receive their salaries and compensation payments” after four years of waiting. The total liabilities of the bankrupt company amount to around €15 million. Alonso said that every effort will be made to ensure that the ordinary creditors will also be repaid. However, the senior creditors will have to accept a discount of some kind for that to happen. “We were locked inside the hotel around the clock between June 2012 and June 2015. Our only aim was to keep our jobs and prevent the terrible management of the Puche family from dragging the workers and the hotel into ruin”, said José Quintana, member of the company’s Board.

The buyer will have to invest between €3 million and €6 million on the renovation work before it reopens the hotel, according to Ana Alonso. The four-star Las Palomas Hotel filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and for liquidation in April 2013.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Nuria Triguero)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colau Approves 6% Rise In IBI For Homes Worth >€300k

18 November 2015 – El Economista

The fiscal policy of the mayoress Ada Colau has been up in the air since her victory at the municipal elections in May. But yesterday, Bcomú’s representatives approved new tax regulations, with votes form the PSC and the CUP, and despite opposition from CiU, the PP and Ciutadens, which initially resulted in a tied vote. Nevertheless, the mayoress’s casting vote allowed the regulations to go ahead.

The main impact of these new tax measures is a 4% increase in the rate of Property Tax (‘Impuesto de Bienes Inmuebles’ or IBI) for homes with a cadastral value of more than €100,000 and a 6% increase for homes worth more than €300,000. The Town Hall explained that 79% of the buildings in Barcelona are worth less than €100,000 (and will be unaffected by the measure).

Although the first fiscal policy adopted by Bcomú was to revoke the 10% increase in IBI that the previous municipal government, led by Xavier Trias, had proposed; shortly afterwards, Colau’s team proposed a property tax freeze. But following criticism from all of the opposition groups, Bcomú decided to negotiate with the other parties, ahead of the new cadastral review, which will apply from 2017. The Town Hall expects to raise €633 million through IBI.

Original story: El Economista (by Iván Gutiérrez)

Translation: Carmel Drake