On 24th February, the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, met with the Minister of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda, José Luís Ábalos, in Madrid. During the meeting, which Colau has called “positive” on Twitter, they discussed various topics but focused on the regulation of rent which, according to Colau, “must become a reality in the coming months.”
Rent regulation was one of the first demands made by Ada Colau at the start of her mandate in 2015, and will now be specified by a non-permanent commission which will meet for the first time on 10th March and will last for six months. The Commission grew out of a proposal by the ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) group within the council and will study the application and the repercussions that the regulation of lease agreement prices for housing would have on Barcelona and the Barcelona metropolitan area with the aim of promoting and achieving the effective implementation of this regulation in the city. The Commission will be formed by two Councillors from each council group, with the Councillor from the ERC Council Group, Eva Baró Ramos, as President and Lucía Martín, Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation, as Vice-President.
In presenting the initiative, the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation, Lucía Martín, recalled that this is a demand that the people have been calling for some time. Social organisations and recent CIS (public opinion) studies have stated that almost 40% of people residing in Spain would be in agreement with regulating rents, a percentage that rises to 70% for those people living in large cities. Martín also recalled that the regulation of rents forms part of the coalition agreement between Unides Podem and the PSOE.
One of the topics that the Permanent Commission will address are the experiences other countries have had in regulating rents. In recent months, many European cities have adopted similar initiatives in order to tackle what is a global problem.
Examples include Berlin, where prices will be frozen for five years and a maximum price of 9.80 euros per square metre has been set. In Paris, a regulatory programme has also been set up whereby rents cannot exceed a reference rate based on the location of the property, the number of rooms, the state of the apartment and the year of construction.