A united front of municipal representatives, parliamentary groups and families affected by the Azora Investment Fund which wishes impose abusive rent rises, reaching up to 100%. The 250 families organised through the Tenants’ Union have received the support of all parliamentary groups, except the PP (Partido Popular) and Ciutadans, as well as the municipal authorities of Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Badalona, Terrassa and Granollers, the five municipalities in which these eleven blocks owned by Azora are located. Lucía Martín, the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation attended on behalf of the Barcelona City Council.
Azora, owner of about 13,500 apartments, is the third most important investment fund in Spain. Before Parliament, in addition to the disproportionate rent increases, the residents denounced fraudulent clauses such as rent rises hidden in the contracts and concealed under supposed discounts, and the obligation on the part of the tenant to take out insurance for non-payment or to carry out repairs that are the responsibility of the owner. They have also reported coercion for displaying banners on balconies denouncing the situation and demand that Azora enters into collective negotiations. The Tenants’ Union also demanded rent regulation, reporting that cases such as Azora are just “the tip of the iceberg” of the ‘rent bubble’ problem which affects a large part of the population.
Institutional declaration by Barcelona City Council
On Friday, 28th February, during the plenary session of Barcelona City Council, an institutional declaration was also read out in which the abusive practices by Azora were condemned. Colau called these practices “immoral” and noted that it is a “social and economic” problem and that, for this reason, the City Council “will use all its tools to defend the right to housing and to combat speculation which is causing so much pain and which, for a very large part of the population, is one of the main problems in the City of Barcelona.” Beyond requiring Azora to stop violating the rights of these residents’ communities and to sit down to negotiate collectively, the City Council has stated that it supports the urgent need for a new state rental legislation that includes the regulation of rents, prohibiting the eviction of residents without justified cause and the right of tenants to negotiate through their representatives.
Including Barcelona City Council, there are five councils in Catalonia which have expressed their support for the residents affected by the Azora Investment Fund and for the need to regulate rents. The others are the town councils of L’Hospitalet del Llobregat, Badalona, Terrassa and Granollers, altogether the five municipalities in which the 11 blocks, owned by Azora and organised through the Tenants’ Union, are located.