Barcelona has taken the last step so that the Catalan capital can continue to apply the Generalitat’s rental regulation law for five more years, if it is not first overthrown by the appeals that have been presented to the Constitutional Court by the Government and the PP, considering that it invades state powers. Thus, the City Council has definitively approved this Wednesday in a extraordinary plenary session declare the city as a tense housing market area, something necessary for the regulations to remain in force. It has been with the votes in favor of the two groups of the municipal government -Barcelona en Comú and the PSC-, in addition to those of ERC and JxCat, and the ‘no’ of Cs, PP, Barcelona pel Canvi and the non-attached councilor Marilén Barceló.
The measure was initially approved in July, but has now been ratified after they presented allegations the Association of Developers and Builders of Catalonia, the Chamber of Urban Property Barcelona and the Association of Rental Home Owners (Asval) and that these have been rejected.
For administrative reasons, an extraordinary plenary session had to be convened to give it the green light, since the deadline to do so ends on September 21 and the ordinary plenary session of this month is not held until the 28th.
With the approval of the measure, Barcelona complies with Catalan law, which dictates that one year after its approval, municipalities must request if they want to continue as a tense housing market area, and it is established that the city will continue like this for five more years, with the possibility of an extension.
It is also stipulated that prices of new rental contracts will be 5% lower than the reference price that marks the price index of the Generalitat and that the apartments with a surface superior to the 150 square meters are also subject to the regulation. This has been decided by the council, as the law provides that the municipalities have room to adapt it to their needs.
With the declaration of Barcelona as an approved tense market area, the Generalitat will be able to continue fining homeowners who have rented them at prices above what is stipulated by the reference index for Catalonia. He started doing it last spring, with penalties of between 3,000 and 90,000 euros, after completing the first phase of detecting contracts that did not comply with the law and finding 30 with irregularities.
The allegations dismissed
The Councilor for Housing, Lucía Martín, has criticized in plenary session that those who presented allegations to the declaration “are far from being small owners” and they want to “perpetuate a business model incompatible with guaranteeing the right to housing.”
He has also stated that “It is surprising” that those who ask for “legal stability” are the first to “try to overturn a law.” “Where are we left? Do we want legal stability or what we really want is that only those laws that some of us like and that allow them to reach disproportionate profitability figures have to be complied with?”
In addition, he has indicated that “soon it will be a year” of the entry into force of the regulations and the supply of rental housing “has skyrocketed in the city, prices are beginning to stabilize and the buying and selling market is functioning normally. “
Martín, on the other hand, has pointed out that in 2020 the decrease in family income was “10 times more intense” than that of the rental price, but that the “Precariousness” of income is making living in a rented apartment “generalizing”. Barcelona, he said, is the Spanish city in which more people live in this way -30% of the population, according to municipal data for July-, for which he has considered “logical” that there is a regulation.
The reactions of the municipal groups
Councilor for ERC Eva Baró has celebrated the final approval of the declaration, although she has reproached the municipal government for having been “against the clock” just six days before the deadline to do so. He has also criticized their actions with the Government in the area of housing and accused them of having “zero leadership”. “If it were up to you this regulation would not have been done,” he said.
From Junts, Neus Munté has said that it is more than justified for Barcelona to be declared a tense market due to the 42% increase in rental prices between 2014 and 2019According to her: “It is time for the State Government to take responsibility for the situation suffered by citizens in access to housing.”
Luz Guilarte, from Cs, for her part, has criticized that with the new law “the rental offer has dropped more than 40% compared to September 2020 “and prices have risen, and he has called the declaration of Barcelona as a tense market area” populist “.
In addition, it has regretted that Catalonia is the autonomous community “at the tail” in investment in public housing. It has also pointed out that Barcelona has been “20 years” with only 20% public housing because when it is built, it ends up in the hands of private owners because the municipal government speculates.
The councilor of the PP Óscar Ramírez has said that intervening in the rental market will create a “boomerang effect” and it will cause a drop in the rental supply, legal uncertainty, a black market and a reduction in the quality of the housing stock.
He has also recalled that have taken Catalan law to the Constitutional Court (TC) considering that it invades state powers and that it represents an “attack on the right to private property”.
From BCN Change Eva Parera He shared Ramírez’s opinion and criticized the private sector being held responsible for the housing problem. “They think it is the enemy and is part of the solution, and we have to understand each other,” he said.
The non-attached councilor, Marilén Barceló, added that the law will carry the danger that the price will become more expensive areas that are not yet affected.