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by Catherine Antheunissens,

District 22@ professionals claim that the situation will be particularly complicated in tense areas where there is already a shortage of residential properties

The Law for the right to Housing or, more commonly known as the Housing Law, was definitively approved in the plenary session of the Senate yesterday Wednesday morning. As Moncloa argues, the purpose of this law is to guarantee the constitutional right to decent housing for the most vulnerable groups

It is an ambitious law that aims to cover different areas of the real estate market and that has not taken long to arouse particular discomfort among professionals in the sector, especially in relation to the rental of properties.

Enric Urreta, President of 22@Network BCN, the business association of 22@ in Barcelona, argues that in the district, the popular opinion, even among property owners, is that the lack of accessible housing at reasonable prices is "a real, very serious and unsustainable problem" which "should have been dealt with a long time ago".

Likewise, the sector believes that the new law will not be the solution, since it focuses on providing a short-term response to current problems, such as the exclusion of tenants from the residential market, instead of addressing "the root of the problem and attack the casuistics" that have brought the market to the present scenario.


One of the most important points of this new law is the declaration of "stressed area" in those areas where two conditions meet: in the area in question the cost of the mortgage or the monthly rent must exceed 30% of the average income; and the sale or rental price of the home must have increased 3 points above the CPI in the five years prior to the declaration of a stressed area. It will be up to regional governments to declare these types of zones and allow them to apply limitations to the rental price.

One of the most controversial measures has been to put a limit on the annual update of rents and the disconnection from the CPI. Specifically, the limit will be 3% when it is currently 2%. In addition, the real estate commissions will from now on be paid by the owner.

The law also includes measures to promote public housing, guarantee better protection against evictions and improve relations between the parties to a lease. All of this makes a new distinction between large holders and small owners.


Among the partners of the 22@Network BCN, managers and real estate agents in the district such as Armadans Sancho, defend that the consequences of the rule will only be good for tenants who currently have a contract in force, since the increase in prices will contain and rents may drop in areas that are declared tense.

On the other hand, Manuel Sancho, Managing Partner of Armadans Sancho, argues that the new law "does not improve collection guarantees, does not speed up judicial processes and does not offer any protection against the damage that some have caused to homes", a fact that makes the choice of the future tenant a key factor for the owners.

From the sector, in addition, it is considered that the law does not generate incentives for large owners to increase the offer, so it is reasonable to think that it will remain or decrease. On the contrary, it must be considered that the small owner could obtain a fiscal motivation to maintain the rental offer and lower prices than the income tax bonus, which goes from the general 50% to 90%, an innovative matter of the Law – if rental contracts are formalized with a duration of ten years or the rent is reduced – but which can have a very short duration because the tenant has no obligation to fulfill the duration of the contract and can terminate it unilaterally.

In short, from the sector there is no perception that the Law will improve the situation of the rental market. On the contrary, future tenants are faced with an offer that will gradually become smaller and with increasing creditworthiness requirements. It will be more difficult for the current owners to justify the costs of maintaining and updating the homes offered, which, as a large part of them become obsolete, will lead to the sale market.

The Rangel consultancy argues that, bearing in mind that Barcelona will be one of the declared tense areas, the situation in the 22@ district can be "especially complicated given the lack of free housing available".

Eva G. Rangel, Founding Partner and Executive Director of the Rangel Consultancy, declares that before the approval of the rule "many owners are evaluating the fact of selling before renting again", since this law limits the rental price that provides a free market, "which is regulated between supply and demand". Therefore, according to the consultancy, it is likely to think that after the approval of the Law there will be even less rental housing available.

In fact, this issue has been vindicated by the association on repeated occasions recently, taking advantage of the electoral context. Specifically, the demand of the 22@Network BCN before the mayors has been to promote residential use to guarantee housing for the district's workers.

Enric Urreta, president of the entity, emphasizes the need to address this problem urgently. For this reason, the association proposes a series of measures, which, executed as a whole, would promote the increase in the availability of housing on the rental market and guarantee price stability.

Among the most outstanding proposals, the 22@Network BCN emphasizes: studying the flexibility of licenses, guaranteeing legal security, which allows agile changes in the activities or uses of the spaces without penalizing this change if it occurs between residential and business use office; increase the land available for the construction of free housing, an improvement that belongs to the competences of the future council; materialize the offer of social housing collected by the last MpPGM of 22@; generate and promote the conditions for coliving to become a reality; to effectively defend the private property of the owners in the face of insecurity and the fear of the occupation of their assets.

The association warns that the initiative of the central government and the inaction of the local and autonomous administrations will not help the fact that the 22@ zone becomes a place to live and work. In an area so full of professional and business life, the workers of these companies will continue to be unable to enjoy a sufficient supply of housing.


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