La Generalitat Approves a Law that Provides for the Expropriation of Vacant Homes

5 March 2019 – La Vanguardia

The Government of Cataluña has approved a decree law establishing around thirty urgent measures to improve access to housing in the region.

The objective of the law is three-fold: to address the lack of social housing available for rent; to facilitate instruments to combat emergency situations and evictions; and to moderate increases in residential rental prices.

The measures range from fines to the expropriation of homes that have been empty for two years (from large property owners at a reduced price, which is no case may exceed 50% of the market price), to forcing the banks to rehouse in social housing properties any residents that they choose to evict.

Another measure in the pipeline, for introduction later this year, includes a plan to increase the minimum rental term, which currently stands at three years, to increase it to between six and ten years, depending on whether the owner is a private individual or a real estate company. Moreover, efforts are being made to limit rental price increases to CPI.

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Luis B. García)

Summary/Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona’s Town Hall Declares the Whole City an Area of First Refusal for Land & Property Purchases

2 October 2018 – Inmodiario

The plenary session of the Town Hall of Barcelona has approved two pioneering measures to defend its citizens’ right to housing: firstly, it will apply protected status to 30% of new developments and major renovations; and secondly, it will declare the whole city as an area of first refusal, with the objective of ensuring that the Town Hall will be able to acquire buildings and plots of land on a preferential basis.

Both measures have received support from Barcelona’s municipal groups En Comú, El Grup Municipal Demòcrata, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, El Partido de los Socialistas de Cataluña, La CIP – Capgirem Barcelona and the two councillors not assigned to a party, Gerard Ardanuy and Juanjo Puigcorbé, who have voted in favour of the measure. The Partido Popular de Cataluña voted against it. Ciudadanos voted in favour of declaring the entire municipality an area of first refusal but abstained from the vote to apply protected status to 30% of new projects.

The 30% reservation will represent an expansion of the public housing stock, especially in central neighbourhoods that suffer the most from real estate speculation and gentrification, and where the lack of available plots makes the construction of social housing extremely difficult. It is estimated that with the new regulation more than 50% of the new affordable homes will be located in those neighbourhoods.

Right of first refusal

That measure is accompanied by the declaration of the entire city as an area of first refusal, to enable the Town Hall to acquire plots and buildings on a preferential basis – which would include those 30% of protected homes – to expand the stock of public housing distributed across all districts.

The initiative, which involves the private sector, will affect both new buildings and major renovation projects exceeding 600 m2. Therefore, private property developers will be co-responsible when it comes to ensuring the right to citizens of a decent and adequate home.

It is expected that with the 30% reservation, around 330 homes will be incorporated into the stock of affordable housing each year, a figure that will help counter the abusive increases in rental prices (…).

The protected homes will operate under a general framework and it is calculated that 75% of Barcelona’s citizens will be able to access them. The affordable price of homes, which La Generalitat would determine, would currently be €512/month for an 80 m2 rental home and €136,400 in the case of a home purchase.

Social claim

These new regulations have been born out of the claim from entities that defend the right to a decent home and which have given a voice to the demand from citizens to put a stop to the real estate speculation that is forcing residents out of their neighbourhoods (…).

Original story: Inmodiario 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall Prepares To Legislate For Tourist Apartments

30 April 2017 – El Confidencial

The Town Hall of Madrid has decided to take the lead regarding the problem of the proliferation of tourist homes in the capital. Although it lacks the power to introduce legislation (that responsibility lies with the Community of Madrid), the Town Hall’s Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development is working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb, and the other platforms that operate in the city, to try to put some order to a situation that isn’t showing any signs of letting up. (…).

José Manuel Calvo (pictured above), Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development, plans to have the agreement ready before the end of this legislature.

Specifically, there are three measures that the Town Hall of Madrid is hoping to extrapolate from an example that it has been studying in Amsterdam. The first is “to establish a maximum period of time, be it 60 days, 120 days, etc, that an owner may lease his/her property (home/room) for each year and for the platform to withdraw the property in question from its website, once that quota has been reached, until the following year”.

The second measure involves ensuring that only the owner of a property may lease it out, whereby preventing the involvement of any companies. This will allow “people who need to supplement their mortgage payments, or who need to lease their house to make ends meet, to continue to let out their homes/rooms, but it prevents people from creating tourist accommodation companies without paying taxes, or complying with legislation, etc”.

The crux of the agreement comes in the third measure: “we are considering a tourist tax for tourist homes only, not for hotels, given that hotels already pay taxes, fees, fulfil their obligations etc. Meanwhile, tourist homes do not currently pay any taxes. In other Central European cities, and even in some American cities, some of the landlords’ profits are reinvested in the town, in agreement with the operators”, said Calvo.

With this new revenue stream, the Town Hall could finance the systems of control that it plans to implement to verify that Airbnb and its competitors are complying with the agreed conditions.

But the problem of the touristification or gentrification of the centre of Madrid goes beyond the tourist homes and also affects the proliferation of hotels, to the detriment of residential buildings; another challenge that Calvo wants to tackle by limiting changes of use. (…).

Although he acknowledged that “Madrid faces a very different situation in terms of hotels to Barcelona, Venice and Lisbon (we have 2.7 beds for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 8 in Barcelona)”, he also admits that he is worried by the degree of saturation that is starting to be seen in certain neighbourhoods in the centre, where limits do need to start being imposed (…).

“Madrid undoubtedly still has the capacity to increase its hotel and tourist capacity, but, the question is whether that should all be concentrated in the centre, in the same neighbourhoods, where the residential fabric is being pushed out by the increase in hotels and tourist apartments? We don’t think so, we need to diversify. Ideally, they would go towards the Arganzuela district, towards Chamartín, towards Chamberí, to the outskirts, to the other side of the M-30…”.

And it was on this point that Calvo was most belligerent, going as far as to state that he would be willing to set thresholds, to establish limits in those areas where saturation is detected. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Idealista: Rental Prices Rose By 15.9% In 2016

17 January 2017 – Expansión

The price of rental housing underwent a recovery in Spain in 2016, ending the year 15.9% higher than it started it, taking the price per m2 to €8.2/m2/month. The rate of growth accelerated during the last month of the year, as prices increased by 8.2%.

Fernando Encinar, Head of Research at Idealista, said that “this is not a bubble but rather a significant increase in demand from Spaniards to rent in certain cities.

The Director of Idealista said that to encourage the growth of the rental market “policies to revitalise the sector must continue and new measures must be adopted to help to increase the housing stock”.

By autonomous region

All of the autonomous regions saw higher prices than a year ago. The largest increase was observed in Cataluña, where owners are now demanding 26.8% more to lease their homes than a year ago. It was followed by increases in Madrid (18%) and the Balearic Islands (13.8%).

Cataluña (€13.30/m2/month) also became the most expensive autonomous region. It was followed by Madrid (€12.90/m2/month) and Euskadi (€10.40/m2/month). At the opposite end of the spectrum, we find Extremadura (€4.1/m2/month), Castilla La Mancha (€4.5/m2/month) and Murcia (€5/m2/month), the cheapest autonomous regions.

By provincial capital

Valencia is the capital where rental prices grew by the most in 2016, with an increase of 20.3%, to €7.5/m2/month.

The increase recorded in San Sebastián was also noteworthy, with prices up by 17%, followed by Barcelona (16.5%) and Madrid (15.6%), which have returned to their historical peaks.

Barcelona consolidated its position as the most expensive Spanish capital (€17.9/m2/month), followed by Madrid (€14.4/m2/month) and San Sebastián (€13.6/m2/month). At the opposite end of the table, we have Lugo (€4.1/m2/month), and Ourense and Ávila (€4.3/m2/month in both cases), the cheapest provincial capitals.

Original story: Expansión (by Rubén San Isidoro)

Translation: Carmel Drake