País Vasco is Committed to Social Housing for Rent Not Sale

25 March 2019 – El País

País Vasco is going to stop building public housing for sale. From 2020 onwards, all of the public developments will be for rental, after it was revealed to be the preferred option for 52,000 of the 64,000 applicants registered on the waiting list for social housing properties. The aim is to boost supply whereby avoiding a shortage that could lead to a bubble.

The regional Government’s commitment to the rental sector is huge. According to data from the Government itself, investment in the segment in Euskadi will amount to €1.12 billion between 2018 and 2020, which is €48 million more than the State is planning to allocate to its housing plan for Spain as a whole during the same period (€1.07 billion).

The Basque Government already owns a stock of 13,340 social housing units for rent, and it is currently building 4,600 more.

Another one of the major battles facing the Basque Government is how to get the more than 20,000 empty homes in the region onto the residential market. This year, the Government is set to approve a decree that fixes the fee for empty homes at €10/m2, which the Town Halls will then be able to apply if they so decide.

It has also launched a program of subsidies of up to 60% of the rental payment for young people aged between 23 and 35 who want to leave home.

Original story: El País (by Pedro Gorospe)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Social Housing is in Very Short Supply in Málaga

17 March 2019 – Diario Sur

Social housing is in very short supply in Málaga. More than 27,000 families are registered on the waiting list for VPO properties, to purchase or rent, of whom 18,723 have been waiting for at least five years. 4,768 new families were added to the register last year alone. But only two out of every 100 families ever receive the good news that they have been selected to be awarded a home. Over the last few years, just 345 homes have been handed over.

Why are VPO homes not being constructed? There are several reasons, but one of the main ones is the lack of funding from the State and the Junta de Andalucía for public and private property developers. The most recent housing plans have focused on subsidising rental payments and undertaking renovation work rather than on the construction of new homes.

The Town Hall of Málaga has projects in the pipeline for the construction of 1,001 public housing units on land to the west of the extension of the Teatinos campus. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is willing to finance half of those homes, worth around €120 million, but the cost of that loan alone would have to be passed on to tenants in the form of rentals of €255 per month, which when combined with the cost of the financing the remaining 50% would not be affordable. Seven out of ten people waiting for a VPO home for rent earn less than €537 per month.

77% of applicants for a VPO home would prefer to rent, given that the option of buying is becoming increasingly less affordable. 72% of the applicants are aged under 35 years old. Public housing policies all but disappeared during the crisis and rents have risen significantly since then, hence the rise in the number of applicants on the register. In fact, the real demand for VPO homes is much higher as many families do not even bother to register given the limited chances they have of being awarded a property.

Across the province, according to data from the local council, 8,457 people are registered on the waiting list for a VPO home, with 1,613 in Torremolinos, 1,365 in Marbella and 1,359 in Estepona. Nevertheless, just 247 families have been awarded a home in any of the Málagan municipalities over the last seven years.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Jesús Hinojosa)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Carmena Invites Ministry of Development to Reactivate Operación Campamento with 11,500 Homes

25 September 2018 – El Confidencial

The mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, announced today that she has invited the Ministry of Development to reactivate Operación Campamento, originally proposed in 2005, to be built on disused military land in the south-west of the capital, with the construction of 11,150 homes instead of the 22,100 units projected by the PP initially. This is one of the last remaining urban development projects in Madrid, together with the developments in the southeast of the city and Operación Chamartín, which received initial approval from the Town Hall of Madrid last week.

In April 2015, the Ministry of Defence – the owner of the plots – announced their sale through an online public auction on Addmeet, but in the end, the operation was left hanging. Then, as El Confidencial reported, the asking price for the plots – through the public auction process – amounted to between €200 million and €250 million.

Now, three years later, and with the urbanisation process underway for Madrid Nuevo Norte (MNN) – the new name for Operación Chamartín – Carmena seems to be willing to place enough land on the market to try to put a stop to the sharp rise in prices, both in the purchase and rental markets, that the capital has experienced over the last two years and which has also led Carmena herself to propose to the central Government a moratorium or an automatic extension of the rental contracts that are due to terminate before the Urban Lease Law (LAU) is reformed.

Manuela Carmena made this announcement during her opening speech in the debate over the state of the city, in which she vindicated the Government’s actions in urban planning and its willingness to put a stop to the inequality that exists between the north and the south of the city (…).

As already happened with MNN, where the total buildability was reduced by 21% – from 3.37 million m2 in the previous plan to 2.66 million m2 in the current plan – along with the number of homes – from 18,500 to 10,510, mostly social housing properties – the operation will not go ahead at any price and, according to Carmena’s comments, the total buildability would also be reduced in this new Operación Campamento and the construction of public housing would be strengthened.

Operación Campamento in numbers

Designed on plots of land owned by the state, the Town Hall wants to build 11,150 homes, of which 40% will be private – 4,150 -, 37% will be social housing properties with limited prices – 3,800 – , and 23% will be social housing properties, of which 1,100 will be rental homes.

So-called Operación Campamento was launched in 2005 with the signing of an agreement between the then Minister of Defence, José Bono, and Minister for Housing, María Antonia Trujillo, and the then mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, for the construction of two phases of up to 22,100 homes on this disused military site to the west of the Spanish capital. Even though today, around half of the homes should have already been built, not a single brick has been laid.

Despite the strategic location of the plots, the reality is that only the Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin, owner of the Wanda group, publically announced his intention to undertake the €3 billion investment on them. That offer never came to fruition because the auction never went ahead (…).

Operación Campamento is one of the most important residential developments in Madrid capital after Operación Chamartín. It spans 1.5 million m2 – with more than 1 million m2 of buildable space – on which offices, hotels, shopping centres, private and public housing, as well as sports facilities and schools could be built. Moreover, the operation would include placing part of the highway to Extremadura (the A-5) underground as well as the construction of a transport interchange at the Aviación Española metro station, where a parking lot is planned for around 2,000 vehicles.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E.S.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Countdown Begins to Energy Efficient Social Housing

14 September 2018 – El Mundo

The revised Technical Building Code (CTE) is going to be published soon in Spain, in line with similar developments in other European countries. In addition to standardising a new way of building, the revised code is going to incorporate the definition of nearly zero energy buildings (EECNs), which will introduce much more demanding parameters than are currently in place.

Private property developers know that from 31 December 2020 onwards, all of the new properties that they build will have to comply with those guidelines. They are demands that come from Europe and that also affect new buildings that are occupied and publicly owned, including social housing. Those buildings must comply with the energy requirements from 31 December of this year.

But, are the Public Administrations prepared? According to Inés Leal, Director of the Nearly Zero Energy Building Congress, “the large cities are better equipped to handle the implementation of nearly zero energy buildings than the smaller towns, which may find it harder to achieve the objectives”.

Although there are not many constructed EECN public housing projects, the buildings certified under the Passivhaus standard have become the closest example of nearly zero energy buildings.

Adelina Uriarte, President of the Passivhaus Building Platform (PEP), believes that the different administrations have the capacity to adapt to the guidelines of European legislation in this regard. What’s more, she adds that “those with the greatest predisposition have already done so ahead of the established deadline”.

One of them is the Town Hall of Madrid, which wanted to set the example and anticipate the 2019 deadline. Thus, at the Municipal Plenary on 25 May 2016, an agreement was unanimously adopted which assumes that all new buildings that are planned, and even those that are already standing that have to undergo an extension or a comprehensive renovation, must be positive from an energy perspective (…).

Financing and costs

In terms of financing, the experiences involving public housing already undertaken in Spain are demonstrating that EECNs are economically viable. In fact, according to Germán Velázquez, Partner at VArquitectos, a public building can be made nearly zero energy efficient with the same budget. And he justifies it: “The current legislation demands several issues that no longer represent an extra cost for developing ECCNs; the key is in the drafting of a good set of plans to ensure that the euro ratios per square metre are equivalent to those of a conventional building”. In his experience, the average cost per square metre amounts to around €650/750 in a conventional public building compared with €700/800 that it costs to construct a public EECN (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Juanjo Bueno)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Government Wants to Prohibit the Sale of Public Housing to Vulture Funds

12 September 2018 – El Mundo

The Government wants to give a new impetus to the housing policy in Spain and has placed social housing at the centre of its strategy. In this context, the President of the Executive, Pedro Sánchez (pictured below), has announced to the Congress of Deputies, that the new law he is preparing will configure social housing as a public service to ensure access to it for all citizens and moreover, to put a stop to the sale of public homes to the so-called venture funds.

During his speech at the control session of the Government, Sánchez announced that the State Attorney will appear in court regarding a criminal case into the investigation of the sale of 5,000 public rental homes undertaken by PP governments in the Community of Madrid and the Town Hall of the Spanish capital to private equity funds in 2012 and 2013.

The Institute of Housing in Madrid (Ivima), of the regional Government of Madrid, sold 2,935 public rental homes in 2013, whilst the Town Hall of Madrid, through the Municipal Housing and Land Company (EMVS), sold 1,860 homes of the same kind in 2012, according to Efe.

“We are not going to stop until the administrations that are behind this intolerable abuse, which has affected so many people of limited means, assume their political and economic responsibilities”, said the President.

The demands of Iglesias

Sánchez responded in that way to the Secretary-General of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, who has also called for other measures to put a stop to the rise in residential sale and rental prices in Spain, including, “ending the privileges afforded to Socimis, the commercial companies that operate in the real estate market and which are taxed at 0%”.

The leader of Podemos also requested that “large owners and venture funds, who own more than ten homes” be forced “to put those properties on the market”, and he proposed that “it is fundamental that the Town Halls be given authority to declare certain urban areas as “stressed markets” so that rental prices there can be regulated”.

Original story: El Mundo (by María Hernández)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona’s Town Hall Invests €32M to Build 244 Social Housing Units in Bon Pastor

23 August 2018 – Eje Prime

Barcelona is strengthening its commitment to public housing. The Town Hall governed by Ada Colau is going to invest €32 million in the development of 244 homes in the neighbourhood of Bon Pastor to rehouse the residents of the so-called cheap houses. The building work forms part of the remodelling plan for one of the areas in a controversial district of Barcelona.

The phase that is about to begin is the fourth phase of the urban planning project, which will involve the construction of five blocks of flats. The building work, managed by the Municipal Institute of Housing and Rehabilitation (Imhab) is expected to be finished during the first quarter of 2021, according to Idealista News.

The Town Hall’s plan is happening so that any homes that are not occupied by rehoused residents will be allocated to the public stock for rental in the Catalan capital. In terms of the list of applicants for rental homes, priority will be given to those residents registered in the areas close to Bon Pastor.

Two of the blocks will be located between Calles Isona and Tallada (54 homes) and Calles Salomó and Isona (42 homes); both enclaves border the limit with Sant Adrià de Besòs. In addition, the plan projects a third building with 38 homes at the junction of Calles Biosca and Claramunt; a fourth block between Calles Biosa and Salomó, with 60 homes; and a final building containing 50 homes between Calles Salomó and Novelles.

The remodelling of Bon Pastor will end with a fifth phase that will put an end to an urban planning macro-development containing 754 homes. The homes will measure between 60 m2 and 90 m2 with parking spaces inside the blocks.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona’s Town Hall to Review 22@’s Urban Transformation Plan to Include More Public Housing

25 June 2018 – Eje Prime

The 22@ district is getting ready to make slight modifications to its construction plan. The techie zone of Barcelona may have more public housing than planned if the interests of the current municipal government get the go ahead. It wants to alleviate part of the crisis that there is in the city with respect to accommodation by providing more public housing. In total, seventy hectares are being built in this sought-after hub of the Catalan capital, which has urbanised fifteen kilometres of streets space and has gone from having 33,800 workers to 93,000.

Much of the reconstruction of the former industrial area of El Poblenou has been directed at the office market and public services. Corporate and government towers, modern spaces for startups and the giant Amazon and Catalan Universities all now live alongside each other in harmony in this enclave, whose reconversion plan began 18 years ago.

Now (…), Mayor Colau is planning to build more housing in 22@. Of the 4,000 flats that were projected to be built in this district, not even half have been actually constructed, according to El País.

Promoting more public homes is a point on which both the social and residents associations that are participating in the process, the Repensem el 22@ platform promoted by the Town Hall and the Wider Committee of experts all agree on. From the conclusions drawn from the two documents, the modifications that Colau will undertake in the urban plan just need to be defined.

Currently, the urban development plan for 22@ contemplates that 90% of the land that was being developed in the area would be allocated for economic activity and that the remaining 10% would be used for the construction of Officially Protected Housing (VPO). The parties involved in the process are clear that this percentage must increase.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spanish Government Allocates €473M to Housing in 2018, up by 1.3% YoY

4 April 2018 – Eje Prime 

The General State Budget (PGE) for 2018 has assigned funds to housing once again. The Government has agreed to allocate €473 million to the issue, 1.3% more than in 2017. Of the total amount, 94.4% will be used for development, administration and aid for renovations and access to housing.

These funds will include loans intended for the execution of state housing plans, such as the one launched a month ago for the years 2018-2021.

According to the Government, the new plan will maintain the lines already established in areas such as promoting the rental market and the renovation of buildings, aimed at young people and retirees, above all. This year, the state administration is going to allocate €350 million to subsidies for the acquisition and renovation of homes, as well as €75 million to subsidise loans.

On the other hand, the State is seeking to support the development of public housing for rent, and in this regard, the Ministry of Development has already closed lines to co-finance projects of that kind.

Moreover, the body chaired by Iñigo de la Serna, will contribute €4 million to agreements with various autonomous communities and municipal entities to remodel local neighbourhoods.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Rental Prices Soar & Are Now Equivalent To The Minimum Wage

2 August 2017 – El Economista

Renting a holiday home for short periods of time has become fashionable. According to data from Exceltur, the association that represents 23 of the largest companies in the tourist sector, the stock of homes available for tourist use amounted to 1.7 million at the end of last year. In other words, there is currently one tourist home for every two regulated beds. This new business, which has always existed – but which is now experiencing a boom – is being criticised in the market at the moment, since holiday homes are being blamed for the rise in residential rental prices.

According to the real estate portal Idealista, “the rise in rental prices has nothing to do with the supply of accommodation for tourists given that that is static and there is a lot of rotation in the traditional rental market”. Moreover, Idealista adds another reason to distinguish the rise in traditional rental prices from the supply of holiday homes, since “the greatest increases in rents have been registered in those neighbourhoods that are least attractive to tourists”.

Therefore, for Fernando Encinar, the co-founder and Head of Research at Idealista, “the rise in rental prices is being driven, exclusively, by the improvement in employment”. Joseba Cortázar, PR Manager Iberia at HomeAway, shares this view: “There is really no evidence to suggest that tourist homes are driving up rental prices. Prices are rising in line with the evolution of the economy”.

Regulation

On the other hand, Gerard Marcet, founding partner at Laborde Marcet, says that “it is inevitable that tourist housing will have an inflationary effect on the rental sector in Spain if it is not properly regulated. If we do not take effective measures, it is almost impossible to control what each individual does in his or her home and whether or not he or she pays tax on the accommodation services he or she offers outside of the regulatory framework.

For this reason, rental prices are rising at double-digit rates in Spain’s major cities. In Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastián, it is no longer possible to rent a property for less than €650-€700, which is basically the minimum wage”.

Solutions

Which solutions can be introduced to regulate this market? Joseba Cortázar says that “we need public-private collaboration between the platforms and associations in the sector to better understand the phenomenon and arrive at a consensus in terms of legal regulation, but we should not demonise the sector. We have to establish an ethical code of conduct for the various platforms to adopt”.

In this sense, Gerard Marcet thinks that “on the one hand, we need to approve unique, ambitious and effective regulation to put an end to this irregular practice and that the only thing that it does is to encourage a price war and the rise of the underground economy. On the other hand, we need to grow the stock of public housing to increase the supply of homes available for rent and, whereby, deflate prices in the market, allowing people access to homes at reasonable prices, given the salaries in Spain. Finally, in cities such as Barcelona, the government should unblock the situation that the hotel sector has been immersed in since the hotel moratorium was approved”.

Original story: El Economista (by Luzmelia Torres)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Andalucían Gov’t Sells 39 Industrial Plots In Jaén For €3.8M

13 February 2017 – Europa Press

So far during this parliamentary term, the Ministry of Development and Housing at the Junta de Andalucía has disposed of 55,284 m2 of industrial land in the province of Jaén, spread over 39 plots, worth €3.8 million.

The proceeds received will be used to strengthen the management of land and public housing that the autonomous Government is developing, both in the province, as well as across the whole of Andalucía. In total, the sale of industrial, commercial and residential land during the same period has amounted to 185,774 m2, worth €30.7 million. (…).

The land sold in the province of Jaén is located in Alcalá la Real, Torredonjimeno, Huelma, Villacarrillo, Arjona and Martos. In the latter, the land sold is all located in the Cañada de la Fuente industrial estate, where the Junta invested €13 million on expansion with the aims of: strengthening the local production fabric; favouring commercial exchanges; driving economic development in the city and its surroundings; and generating employment.

“This sale of industrial land is one of the activities that we are promoting in the Andalucían Government to provide companies with land in the best possible conditions to facilitate growth and development, and therefore, the generation of employment”, said Felipe López, councillor at La Junta. (…).

The councillor added that his department will launch a new public tender at the end of February to sell 17 plots of land that have not been sold yet on this industrial estate and which have a surface area of 24,161 m2 and a value of €2.28 million. (…).

Original story: Europa Press

Translation: Carmel Drake