According to data from the Ministry of Development, the housing stock in Spain is estimated at almost 26 million homes at the end of 2018; on the other hand, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) indicates that the number of homes to be rented is 17% of the total, with 76% owned and the rest sold free of charge. In the European context, Germany has 48.30% of homes for rent compared to 35.10% in the United Kingdom and 35% in France, according to Eurostat figures for 2016.
In an analysis carried out by the magazine Cinco Días, large investors only have 3% of the portfolio of rented properties, although it is true that almost all of them are in the hot zones of renting – the big cities.
The lack of political stability we have in the Spanish government means that the Urban Leasing Law (LAU) has changed from December 2018 to March 2019 on up to three occasions. With the current government the forecast is that more legislative changes will come, and not only in terms of rent limitations.
What if the problem was the lack of protection for small property owners?
At the end of last year, the famous case of Esther Argerich came to light: a flat owner in Barcelona who was put on the spot by a different political group and who did not exactly help to end the nightmare she lived through until she recovered the property she had rented to tenants whose contracts had expired and were not renewed.
This case has been widely followed on social networks; the owner was persecuted and harassed, both by the Tenants’ Union, and by the tenants and politicians themselves. What underlies the complaints raised by the owner is that the administrations – given their inability to solve the housing problem – have a lax law that makes the owners the ones who put up with unpaid bills and occupations once the contracts are over, without being able to do anything until months or years after the eviction comes.
“The lack of protection for the owner is total”
Esther Argerich considers that the laws should change “what cannot be is that you have tenants who do not pay, or do not have a contract in force and it takes more than a year for them to evict, that is without counting debts and damages”. The Tenants’ Union, he says, is dedicated to going to all evictions to stop them and to advise the tenants by giving them all the legal options to lengthen the procedure as much as possible: they don’t leave and they don’t pay, but they want to negotiate.
The Urban Rentals Law considers that the landlord – the owner – has a much greater capacity to defend his interests than the tenant – the tenant – but as we can see in such notorious cases, this is not the reality that the Law intends to regulate.
In the end, what happens is that the landlord ends up making decisions to raise prices and deposits, in order to protect his patrimony, and of course, this results in the tenant being left with a negative feeling.
And now the question. How many more homes would come on the market if the solutions with conflicting tenants lasted much less? We would eliminate what we call ‘Tenant Risk’ and a small landlord would be safe to rent.
It is not incompatible that social policies can be made without harming the rights of other people, such as small landlords – who represent 97%.