Catalonia’s Parliament Passes Rent-Control Act

Despite having been in jeopardy until the last minute, consensus has been reached between different political parties.

Parliament has given the green light to a bill to limit housing rents in Catalonia, regulating them especially in areas where they are skyrocketing. The text, co-drafted by Esquerra Republicana, centre-right JxCat, left-wing CUP and Podemos’ sister party Comuns last July, has been approved after last-minute negotiations that had stalled passage. The law provides for caps on rents in those cities and towns where there are most difficulties in accessing housing due to supply and demand imbalances.

Under the new law, which provides for certain exceptions, when a new contract is signed the rent cannot exceed the previous price. Additionally, the rent may not exceed the reference price of the urban area. If it does, when the contract is renewed the rent will have to be revised down.

During the reading, after the agreement had been announced, Esquerra MP José Rodríguez said that the regulation of rents is a “social and collective emergency” and that, “those who speculate and pervert the right to housing will have to deal with us.” He also criticized that “opponents of this regulation are all too reminiscent of those who oppose collective bargaining or the minimum wage,” and addressing the right-wing Ciudadanos and the People’s Party, added: “The only freedom that interests you is limitless free-reign for business.”

Esquerra's proposal to expand social housing goes ahead

Parliament has likewise given the go-ahead for Esquerra Republicana's proposal to bring a bill to the Spanish Congress guaranteeing the return of the bank bailouts and the investment of municipal surpluses in the form of social housing.

Esquerra's proposed bill, which will now begin parliamentary passage, specifically proposes two paths: first, that Sareb—the bad bank that acquired property assets with public money during the bank bailout—must give up as much as 30% of that property to the administrations to be used for social housing.

The second path is through the Spanish Budget Stability and Financial Sustainability Act. Esquerra wants town councils, local corporations and administrations with competencies in housing and that have balanced accounts to be able to take advantage of their surpluses to acquire real estate in foreclosure or repossession proceedings, through preferential purchase options, that is, that administrations may have first option to buy such homes at the same price as agreed between the owner and any third party.