"The solution to housing can no longer wait"

The Col legi d'Administradors de Finques de Barcelona-Lleida (CAFBL) organized, at the UPF Barcelona School of Management Auditorium, a series of talks under the title Housing, present and future challenges.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 May 2023 Thursday 22:27
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"The solution to housing can no longer wait"

The Col legi d'Administradors de Finques de Barcelona-Lleida (CAFBL) organized, at the UPF Barcelona School of Management Auditorium, a series of talks under the title Housing, present and future challenges. What are the needs?, with the main candidates for mayor of the city of Barcelona. The CAFBL has wanted to listen to their proposals and has taken the opportunity to propose solutions, claiming a constant dialogue between the political powers and the agents who are experts in the matter, such as the collegiate property managers. The attending candidates were Daniel Sirera (PP), Ernest Maragall (ERC), Jaume Collboni (PSC) and Xavier Trias (Trias for Barcelona). Ada Colau, head of the Barcelona en Comú list, declined the invitation due to incompatibility of the agenda.

Great consensus is needed in housing policies. According to the president of CAFBL, Lorenzo Viñas, "until now, the legislation approved, rather than providing structural solutions to this fundamental issue, has tended to confront the inalienable right to decent housing with the right to property, in addition to covered with a legislative technique that has not provided legal certainty”. To all this we must add that the sustainable development objectives place us in a general framework that involves, yes or yes, adapting the housing stock, through rehabilitation, to the consequences of climate change.

That is why, in this cycle of talks with the candidates, CAFBL brought them the most worrying issues in order to hear their respective proposals. One of the issues raised was the problem of illegal squatting of real estate. The way to get decent housing is not through illegal squatting, much less have private owners be in charge of providing the solution supporting these squats.

“Until now, public housing policies have been a total failure. They do not protect those affected and a change is needed to recover the basic rules of proper functioning in the home”, affirms Viñas. Illegal squatting degrades the common elements and facilities of the communities of owners; In addition, they cause coexistence problems that affect both private life, in its most intimate aspect, and community life.

The candidate Trias was blunt stating that "all squatting is a crime." He was concerned about vulnerable families and defended that it is the City Council that has to respond to housing needs. At the same time, he denounced, in defense of the owners, that the law prevents expedited vacancy.

The limitation of the rental price in the rental of housing has been another of the issues discussed, especially due to the dissuasive effect it has on the owners. According to the CAFBL, this is a measure that has been shown to be ineffective and corresponds more to gimmicky initiatives seeking media coverage than to the desire to provide a real solution to the problem of rising rental prices. Instead, the new Housing Law consolidates this practice.

In this sense, Daniel Sirera, candidate for the PP, stressed that "anything that involves intervention goes against social and economic progress", and stated that the price of housing must be free and depend on the owner.

Another central theme was the need to rehabilitate buildings to reduce energy consumption. In this regard, registered property managers are essential in the dissemination of the Next Generation European Funds programme.

From the Technical Office for Rehabilitation of Catalonia (OTRC), created through an agreement with the Agència d'Habitatge de Catalunya, the candidate Maragall was questioned on this issue, who concluded that "we must take the concept of rehabilitation seriously. The Barcelona park is very old and there is an immense need to rehabilitate it”. The ERC candidate recognized the role of chartered property managers in the successful implementation of these funds as essential.

Regarding the increase in the affordable housing stock as a guarantee of price containment, the CAFBL denounces that the measure consisting of the modification of the General Metropolitan Plan for Barcelona, ​​which reserves 30% of new construction developments and great rehabilitation of buildings to allocate it to VPO has generated a forceful reduction of the promotions in the city. It has not been a positive measure to transfer to the private sector the obligations of the public authorities to create social housing. An opinion shared by Jaume Collboni, who assured that "it was a measure that has not given good results, because private investment has been slowed down." Collboni bets that the small owner gives the house to the City Council to put it up for rent at a maximum price of €500, compensating him for the difference.

The property managers propose some solutions such as facilitating the conversion of empty premises located in third commercial lines into houses, without architectural barriers, ideal for people with reduced mobility, or the conversion into mezzanines and studios.

They are also committed to public-private collaboration, ceding the right to public land surface for the construction of rental housing with a rent cap of between €8-9/m² per month. They also advocate making it easier to divide the current large existing homes to convert them into smaller homes, thus increasing the number.

All these important challenges have to be built through constant dialogue with expert agents in the field, such as collegiate property managers. Today, "this dialogue has been conspicuous by its absence," according to Viñas, who considered that the generalized political inertia must be reversed, more concerned with seeking parliamentary majorities than with having the experience of knowledgeable professionals from the different sectors.

The CAFBL considers this participation essential, both for greater legal certainty with the regulations that are approved, and to make more affordable housing available. In this sense, they have started a round with the different political forces to contribute their experience in the housing sector in Catalonia, in their capacity as professionals who ensure the preservation of the right to decent housing within the framework of a safe park, sustainable and efficient.