The Mayoress has spoken out about rising rents in Barcelona, warning of speculation and a new bubble in the housing market.
Ada Colau, the left wing Mayoress of Barcelona (pictured above), has used her blog and a press conference to denounce speculation and urge the Spanish Government and the Generalitat – the regional Government of Catalonia – to introduce rent controls to stop cost rising.
Colau says she wants to raise the alarm in the light of a “worrying increase” in rental prices in the Catalan capital, where rents averaged 765 €/month (11.5 €/sqm/month) at the end of Q3 last year (according to City Hall data), an annualised increase of 9%. Speaking at a press conference Colau said rents have risen more in Barcelona’s property market than anywhere else in Spain.
“We are witnessing a worrying increase in rental prices in Barcelona, and it is our duty to warn of the growth of a new speculative bubble in the housing sector,” she says.
“We want to remind the State and the Generalitat of the disaster resulting from a failure to act in time when signs were first detected of the last bubble, the bursting of which had terrible consequences for thousands and thousands of families.”
Speaking to the press, Colau said the state is failing to regulate the market properly, and allowing speculation to inflating another bubble as a consequence.
Colau calls on the “State” (Madrid) to introduce the “necessary mechanisms to regulate the rental market, like they do in Germany and other European countries.” She sees rent controls as the answer to rising rental prices in Barcelona, where the housing market is already highly regulated.
Rents may be rising in Barcelona, but other sources suggest falling rents in most parts of Spain, making it difficult for the State to justify rent controls. The latest rental prices index produced by the company Alquiler Seguro has average rents falling by 0.64% in February compared to a year before, whilst the rental price index published by the National Institute of Statistics shows average rents falling 0.3% in February, after almost three years of consecutive declines.
Colau came to prominence as an activist leader fighting against home repossessions, and went on to conquer Barcelona City Hall. You can watch her denouncing speculation and warning of a fresh housing bubble in the press conference video below (relevant section is roughly between 9.00 and 15.00)
Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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