Barcelona is a city that has traditionally had a wide range of rental flats, but market prices have been increasing for years, to the point that this phenomenon has become one of the challenges the city has to face.
The Barcelona Rental Housing Pool offers an alternative with affordable prices and very significant benefits for both owners and tenants.
What steps must an owner follow to put a flat in the Rental Housing Pool?
If you are the owner of a home and want to include it in the Rental Housing Pool, you just need to fill out the information form available on the website or go in person to one of the Barcelona Housing Offices, as an initial step to formalise the request for registration in the programme. Registration in the Rental Housing Pool is open all 12 months of the year.
Benefits of the Barcelona Rented Housing Pool for owners
For the owners, the Housing Pool programme offers economic incentives for the inclusion of housing; €1500 for including an empty home and up to €6000 for the settlement of debts related to the home if it is in a judicial process at the time of inclusion.
The owners will also receive a grant of up to a maximum of 20,000 euros for the renovation of the home, after a technical assessment of the flat and conditioned on the signing of a rental contract.
Another benefit for owners is that, as of January 2020, the homes in the Housing Pool will enjoy a 95% bonus of the IBI fee, in accordance with the latest modification of the ordinance regulating this tax.
Furthermore, owners that register their property in the Housing Pool have guaranteed rent collection in cases of missed payment, which the programme ensures through monitoring to verify that the owner has received the rent in full, and a follow-up with the tenants in case of missed payments. Owners also benefit from a maintenance guarantee, thanks to the multi-risk home insurance that is contracted at no additional cost.
Advantages of the Housing Pool for tenants
The Rented Housing Pool offers mediation services between owners and potential tenants, guaranteeing for both parties that the conditions of the contract are met and offering home-seekers access to flats in good condition at affordable, below market prices.
Potential tenants also receive legal and technical advice for the signing of the contract at no additional cost and, where appropriate, in the creation of the contract resolution agreement.
Also, at the discretion of Social Services, the City Council of Barcelona can offer financing of the security deposit, the first month’s rent, the administrator’s fees, and urgent aid for rent payment, up to three months.
Households or individuals who are assisted by social services and have applied for flats from the Housing Pool may request these benefits. It is also required to have a maximum income of 2.35 times the IRSC, be registered as living in Barcelona, and have the economic viability to pay the rent each month.
There is also a rent aid that can be requested if necessary for those households with income less than 2.5 times the IPREM (equivalent to 2.35 IRSC) when the cost of rent exceeds 30% of the household income and there is risk of exclusion.
Processing facilities provided by the Housing Pool
The Housing Pool programme offers legal and technical advice for homeowners, as well as Legal Defence Insurance and mediation between parties.
Furthermore, the Barcelona Rental Housing Pool offers free (except fees) processing and obtainment of the energy efficiency certification (EEC) and the certificate of occupancy (CH), conditioned by the signing of a rental contract.
Requirements that a home must meet to be included in the Housing Pool
The home must be within Barcelona city limits and must have the certificate of occupancy and the energy efficiency certification, or be able to obtain them.
The home may be a private market property, or it may be under Official Protection provided that authorization to rent has been granted from the Government of Catalonia.
Number of flats in the Housing Pool
Currently, the Housing Pool has 891 active contracts with homes located throughout the city. In the first half of 2019, 70 new contracts were signed, of which 62 are flats that were included in the Housing Pool this year. The eight remaining flats were included previously and were pending completion of renovations.
In 2018, 165 homes were included and 191 contracts were signed, while in 2017 the Housing Pool registered the inclusion of 226 new flats and the signing of 184 new rental contracts.
Thus, the trend in recent years has been an increasing number of active contracts, partly thanks to the improved benefits offered to owners and tenants, and partly thanks to the positive impact of the communication campaign “You have the Key“, which a Barcelona Rental Housing Pool technician says “did a lot for the relaunch of the Pool.”
Origin of the Housing Pool
The Social Rental Housing Pool (BHLLS) was born in 2005, together with rental assistance as part of the development of the 2004-2007 Housing Plan and as a complement to the Officially Protected Housing (VPO) that was available.
In 2009, the Barcelona Housing Consortium (CHB) was created, which unifies the BHLLS and the Youth Housing Pool (BJH), which existed previously.
The current Housing Pool was born with the aim of expanding the offer of social and affordable housing, and to facilitate access to housing for households that may have difficulty in this regard.
The Housing Pool in the current context
In the nearly 15 years of the Housing Pool’s trajectory, more than 2000 flats have been mobilised, facilitating access to housing in very adverse contexts. As they explain in the service, “the Housing Pool had an impact on the real estate bubble of 2008 and currently, it is also having an impact on the rent prices of homes included in the programme” and “when rent prices rise, the Housing Pool manages to negotiate lower-than-market prices thanks to the benefits offered to interested owners.”
The Housing Pool has an important role within the current inflation of the real estate market, because “it offers a lower price than the market, together with a lower demand for additional financial guarantees than those legally established, and this makes the Housing Pool programme an important service that is necessary to facilitate access to housing for many families.”
In a hypothetical regulated market, the role of the Housing Pool, which has always “pursued control of rent prices”, could change, but first it would be necessary to “analyse how this regulation is defined“. In any case, the Housing Pool would continue to help “mobilise housing that is not available on the market”, through grants for “the necessary actions to achieve the habitability of the flats”.
Areas of Barcelona with the most homes in the Housing Pool
Currently, the Housing Pool has about 900 flats in all districts of the city, with Nou Barris, Horta-Guinardó, Sant Martí and Sants-Montjuïc being the areas with the most flats registered in the Housing Pool.