City officials in Barcelona have found an incentive to help increase the city’s available rental housing units. Authorities are threatening to forcefully buy empty properties to create more affordable housing if landlords don’t manage to fill their vacant rental assets within a certain time frame.
As housing costs have increased by 50% in the past five years, Barcelona is faced with the urgent need to establish affordable residential units, now more than ever. Instead of building new complexes, the city of Barcelona is planning to increase affordable housing by seizing and purchasing empty flats. Measures have already been taken, as officials have contacted 14 different companies owning a total of 194 apartments, giving them a month notice to find tenants, or to be acquired at half their market value and fined between €90,000 and €900,000.
Companies in Barcelona have had a tendency in the past years to neglect their empty properties, waiting for a stagnated market to revive. Leading to a high number of vacant apartments, this has led the city to develop a strategy to fight this trend. The city’s plan would be to rent out these units as public housing to lower-income occupants. Building on existing rules in the Catalonia region, which legalize ceasing properties left for more than 2 years without tenants, the strategy implemented recently has shortened the “grace period” and has dismissed the idea of returning the property to its original owner.
On another hand, city housing commissioner Lucia Martín discussed that the first intention of the municipality is to pressure owners to rent their units, stating that “we are not here to expropriate. What we want is for apartments to be rented.”
News Via CityLab.