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 Fines Two Funds €2.8M for Leaving 24 Flats Empty

4 March 2019 – Eje Prime

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has fined two investment funds €2.8 million for leaving two properties empty for more than six years on Calle de Aragó and Calle Pau Claris, in the Eixample district. The fine has been issued under the Right to Housing Act from 2007, which establishes penalties for the poor use of homes that have a social function and which ought to be inhabited.

If a property remains vacant for more than two years, its owner may be fined by between €90,000 and €900,000 per home. In total, the buildings subject to these fines comprise 24 homes.

Colau defended her housing policy and pointed out that the fines form part of a comprehensive approach by her government that includes the construction of 70 new developments, the requirement for private developers to build 30% social housing and conditioning any help for renovations on maintaining rental prices.

The fines could be reduced if the owners agree to let the Town Hall include the flats in their social housing stock.

Original story: Eje Prime

Summary/Translation: Carmel Drake

VPS Seeks Local Partners To Boost Growth In Spain

21 July 2016 – Expansión

The vacant building manager VPS (Vacant Property Specialists), which is headquartered in London and which has been controlled by PAI Partners since 2014, has set its sights on Spain to target its growth. The multi-national company, which has been managed by David Taylor-Smith since May of this year, recorded turnover of €300 million in 2015 and considers that the Spanish market has the most potential for growth in Europe. It has prepared a plan to position VPS as the market leader in the country. Moroever, at the international level, it plans to triple its revenues over the next four years.

The company has hired Oscar Aragón to be its new CEO in Spain – he has previously worked for firms including Compass Group, Sotkon, ISS and Gas Natural – with the aim of making VPS the market leader.

According to Aragón, “until now, no companies in Spain have been dedicated exclusively to the management of vacant properties”. And, yet, there is significant demand for these types of services, “given the volume of assets that are still owned by the banks and that are not being used, for example”, explained the executive.

Property developers also require their services: “In a property development, if there are squatters, even in just one of the properties, then it makes it very difficult to sell the rest”. The disused buildings and homes may be closed, sealed off or protected “in a rudimentary way” or under the supervision of a professional company. In addition, he added, many financial institutions and large real estate companies prefer to work with a single company that can handle all of their properties across the whole of Spain, rather than with small local firms.

The headquarters of VPS’s Spanish subsidiary is located in Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona) and the firm also has offices in Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia. Aragón said that the company’s growth plans include opening offices in at least twelve provincial capitals, as well as increasing the workforce from its current size (50 people) to 150 within the next year.

Its aim is to grow both organically and through the acquisition of small companies. “We can expect to see a process of consolidation in the sector”, predicted the executive.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake