The Advisor on Shared Housing of the Network of Youth Information Points, Mari Carmen Jiménez, and the lawyer of the Housing Office of Nou Barris, Maria Romero, speak about the resources for maintaining the home in the event that the tenant has problems for paying the rent and for preventing evictions, in a session of the cycle “Connected Youth”. In this cycle, organised by the Youth Information Points of Barcelona, a series of online talks have been held to publicise the Barcelona City Council’s youth services and facilities and to answer young people’s doubts and queries.
The aim of this session was to describe the resources offered by the Network of Housing Offices to those persons who, due to being in a situation of vulnerability, have problems for paying their rent. Below we summarise the key concepts discussed in the session, but if you want to learn more you will find the complete talk at this link.
The key is prevention
If we believe we can have problems for paying our rent, the key is to stay ahead of the problem and prevent it before ceasing to pay and generating a debt, as was explained by the lawyer of the Housing Office of Nou Barris, Maria Romero. In this respect, she spoke of two types of assistance that can be useful:
– State aid for rent: this is usually published between the months of April and June and is granted on the basis of the tenant’s income. It has to be requested via the Housing Office.
– Municipal rent assistance deriving from mediation: these aids are available virtually all year round and are granted after a process of mediation with the landlord. The condition for obtaining them is that the landlord lower the rent by a minimum of 50 euros and that the contract has a minimum life of 12 months.
Resources available when one or more monthly instalments are owed
If action has been taken too late and the tenant already owes one or more monthly instalments, they still have instruments that can help them to defray this debt, such as the Special Emergency Benefit. To apply for it, a series of requirements must be fulfilled: the rent must be a maximum of €750, the contract has to have a year of life from the date of the grant, the debt has to be a maximum of €3,000 and certain incomes have to be demonstrated to be able to cover the rent after receiving the benefit, which is allocated solely to paying a momentary debt.
If the tenant does not fulfil one or more of these requirements, they can always apply for mediation by the Housing Office to renegotiate the rent or extend the life of the contract or the debt if it exceeds the amount of the benefits.
If none of this works and an eviction procedure is initiated
If the mediation process has not been successful and the tenant has not obtained any of the available types of assistance and ceases to pay, the landlord may initiate a judicial eviction procedure for non-payment. Ms. Romero clarified that, contrary to what many people think, the landlord can initiate an eviction procedure from the first month of non-payment, even if the rent is paid late. This is not a habitual practice, but the landlord could do it.
Once the tenant receives the action for eviction, they have ten days to either voluntarily hand over the keys, settle the debt, or follow the judicial procedure by way of a solicitor because they do not agree with it. It is important to take into account that, depending on their income, they may be entitled to free legal aid. This must be applied for during the first three days after receiving the action for eviction, and the procedure will be halted until the tenant is assigned a duty solicitor.
The tenant can also contact the Housing Office, where they will be offered various resources. On one hand, it is always possible to initiate a mediation process to opt for a special emergency benefit, which is faster if there is an eviction procedure underway. If the debt is very high, it can be proposed that the landowner include the home in the Housing Pool in order for the tenant to maintain the home and for the owner to have an income coverage in the event of non-payment, in addition to other allowances and a subsidy for works, which it must be possible to execute while the tenant is living in the home.
If in spite of everything the eviction cannot be halted
It may be that mediation does not work and the eviction date arrives. If the judicial procedure continues, the Intervention Service in Situations of Loss of Home and/or Employment (SIPHO) will accompany the tenant throughout the eviction procedure until the day of eviction, attempting one last negotiation to suspend it.
If in spite of this the eviction is finally executed, the tenant still has options:
– Appeal to the Emergency Board.
– Look for a new home and apply for the benefit for evicted persons, which subsidises up to 60% of the rent of the new home and provides 600 euros for paying the deposit. To apply for it, the evicted person must be the holder of the new rent contract, even if they are not the only one.
– Register as an applicant in the Register of Applicants for Official Protection Homes to opt for a public protection home.
More resources and information from the Network of Housing Offices
The Barcelona Housing Offices offer information on these and many other services, such as advice on legal matters. There are ten Offices, one in each district of the city, and they have specialised technical staff who provide personalised attention to the users.
At the present time they offer attention only by prior appointment and in cases in which the formalities cannot be conducted online, but the staff offer you telephone advice by way of the “Housing Calls You” service, and if it is indispensable to conduct the formality in person, you will be given a day and time by one of the Barcelona Housing Offices.