At the end of 2019, the Government of the Generalitat approved Decree Law 17/209 which includes urgent measures to improve access to housing. Specifically, the regulation has a threefold objective: to combat the housing emergency; to increase the amount of protected housing, with a special emphasis on homes for rent; and to help to moderate rental prices of private homes. Below we review the main innovations this decree involves for the various areas.
In terms of combating the emergency situation and preventing evictions, the following aspects should be noted:
– Large owners must offer social renting to families in a vulnerable situation and these contracts must last for 7 years, whereas previously they could be for 3 or 5 years.
– These social rent contracts should be offered to vulnerable families who are in the process of eviction when their rental contract expires but also when they have occupied a home for six months without having had any type of contract.
– The definition of a large owner is extended, now being based on the number of dwellings, rather than surface area, and also including natural persons. Thus, a large owner is considered to be any natural or legal person who owns more than 15 homes.
– The change of use for land which was planned for public amenities will be made easier so that it can be used to build temporary housing in order to cope with the emergency situation.
– The preferential right of refusal and acceptance by administrations is extended to second or third purchase transactions.
New model of protected housing
The second area in which the Decree aims to have a major impact is that of protected housing, both by creating a new housing model and, at the same time, increasing the protected rental housing stock. The most significant points are as follows:
– The protected housing designation will be permanent provided that the properties are set aside for use as publically protected housing under urban planning regulations or that they form part of the public land and housing assets. This will prevent the loss of protected housing that would otherwise return to the private market.
– The land available for protected housing will be increased. In municipalities with a strong and proven demand for housing, this will be a minimum of 50% of the buildable area on land for designated development and 40% on non-consolidated land.
– Private initiatives will be encouraged to build protected housing. Private protected housing developments built with public aid will be covered against non-payment of rent and tenants will take precedence in help for non-payment.
– It includes the possibility for urban planning regulations to allocate land for the construction of multi-family housing specifically for rent. It also promotes the possibility of partially allocating buildings for designated protected housing in order to offer a more varied range of housing adapted current needs.
– The sale of public housing will be subject to a set price that will prevent profiteering alongside protected housing.
Reduction of rental prices
The Decree Law also includes some measures that aim to encourage the reduction of rents using the Catalan Housing Agency’s Reference Rate for rental prices. This is an index calculated using the average price of apartments with the same characteristics in the same area.
Decree Law 17/2019 will require this to be included on real estate sites and in rental contracts and when handing over supporting documentation. However, owners who want access to aid must rent their homes at a price below the Rental Price Reference Rate.