Barcelona mulls rent controls in some areas

Barcelona's working-class Besòs district near Diagonal Mar and the beach
Barcelona’s working-class Besòs district near Diagonal Mar and the beach

The municipal authorities worry that Barcelona is heading for a rental price bubble, in part due to holiday rentals, the local press reports.

Barcelona City Hall continues to fret that rents are getting too expensive in Barcelona, despite being cheap by international standards.

Average rents rose 6.6% last year to 727 €/m2, the biggest increase in Spain.

The municipal government, led by housing activist Ada Colau, wants to increase the supply of social housing for rent by incentivising owners to rent empty properties, whilst imposing rent controls on how much they can charge in some areas.

“The local government wants to work with the relevant authorities to consider this change in the law and establish some system of rent control to regulate the maximum price in certain areas, depending upon circumstances, to avoid some parts of society being excluded by a rise in prices,” says Gerard Capó, the technical director of the ‘Dignified Use of Housing’ programme, quoted in the local press.

Residents in the poorest areas of town, where incomes are lowest, have to make the biggest financial effort to afford rental prices, dedicating 25% of income on rent, say press reports.

Perhaps I misunderstood, but 25% is not an unsustainable amount to spend on rent. The rule of thumb is no more than a third of your net income on housing, be it rent or mortgage repayments.

Rents are rising the fastest in areas where tourist accommodation demand is greatest, suggesting a link between holiday-rentals and rental prices for local residents. That helps explain why City Hall under Ada Colau is so against holiday rentals, and has extended a moratorium on new tourist rental licences in the city.

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Thoughts on “Barcelona mulls rent controls in some areas

  • GarySFBCN says:

    To combat increase rents, Starting 1 MAY 2016, Berlin no longer allows vacation rentals of entire flats on AirBnB and other sites:

    “Berlin began restricting private property rentals through Airbnb and similar online platforms on Sunday, threatening hefty fines in an attempt to keep housing affordable for local people. . .A new law – Zweckentfremdungsverbot – has been described by Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s head of urban development, as “a necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin … I am absolutely determined to return such misappropriated apartments to the people of Berlin and to newcomers”.

    • Mark Stücklin says:

      Thanks Gary. Good to see it’s not just Barcelona struggling with this issue, and see examples of how other cities around the world are dealing with it.

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