Barcelona City Council will not be charging rent for public housing during the months of April, May and June. In all, 8,748 families living in rented housing managed by the Municipal Institute of Housing and Renovation (IMHAB) will not be charged for rent until July. The extraordinary new measure has been adopted to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the declaration of the state of emergency. Barcelona families living in these homes will pay the rent corresponding to the next three months in instalments staggered over the next eighteen months, from July 2020 through until December 2021. The moratorium and staggered payment plan will also apply to the 400 ground-floor commercial premises rented in blocks managed by the IMHAB, and the 1,400 officially protected privately owned homes promoted by the IMHAB.
The IMHAB will also be reviewing rents for households suffering significant drops in their incomes as a result of the crisis, reducing them to match the economic circumstances families find themselves in. This is actually common practice for the IMHAB, which reduces rents for tenants in public housing when their incomes drop through circumstances beyond their control. Where necessary, the Fundació Habitat3 will also be reviewing rents for more than 250 homes managed via a framework agreement with Barcelona City Council and the Government of Catalonia.
Barcelona City Council is also to offer subsidies for families living in flats belonging to the Barcelona Rental Housing Pool, which currently consists of 891 homes. Tenants on this programme who suffer a drop in their income because the Covid-19 crisis will have to contact the IMHAB, which will be activating subsidies to help them meet payments. Owners of flats rented out through the Rental Housing Pool will not notice any changes as they will continue receiving the same amounts.
These subsidies will benefit a total of 11,689 tenants with the IMHAB, of which 400 are tenants of commercial premises, 1,400 are private owners with officially protected homes (HPO), 891 live in homes in the Rental Housing Pool and 250 live in homes provided through the programme operated by the Fundació Habitat3. The City Council has created an extraordinary budgetary item of 3.5 million euros to be able to apply these measures, with the possibility of increasing it up to 5.5 million.
Public subsidies to pay private rents guaranteed
The City Council also wants to make it clear that public subsidies for the payment of private rents, which currently benefit around nine thousand families, are guaranteed. The fact that housing offices are currently closed is a concern for these families as they have to present photocopies of monthly receipts at the offices in order to receive subsidies. While this situation continues, families benefitting from these subsidies will be able to send image files of their rent payment receipts by email. Subsidies will be processed as a priority and when the state of emergency is lifted the paperwork will be reviewed and completed.
Call for tourist lets to switch to the Rental Housing Pool
The City Council is urging owners of tourist flats, who may see activity drop because of the pandemic, to include their properties in the Rental Housing Pool so that these homes can be made available to citizens at affordable prices. Ten owners have actually already done this in recent days. The Rental Housing Pool offers various guarantees and advantages for owners, such as guaranteed payment of rents, non-repayable renovation grants of up to 20,000 euros or a 95% discount on the property tax. The pool can be contacted online here.
Online and phone support for emergencies
As with the rest of municipal services, the IMHAB has adapted its activity to the current health emergency by only operating services deemed essential. Because of this, any urgent matters relating to public housing will be handled by phone, email or online using this link. Housing emergencies will be handled by the freephone number 010.