And why not live in an old haberdashery?

The secondary streets of the big cities are full of ghost premises. Once home to traditional shops such as shoe stores, haberdasheries or groceries, they now languish with few options to return to the life they had. E-commerce is slowly sweeping the map of these businesses, which are located outside the large commercial arteries, remain with the blinds cast. But all is not lost for these places. As they are real estate located in areas with a shortage of housing supply, investors have found in the conversion of these properties into homes a little exploited exit. Empowering it is what the professor of Economics of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) José García Montalvo, who advocates for generalize the use as residences, with certificates of habitability, of the low commercial and empty offices “That they will never be a trade again because online sales have eaten them.” In Montalvo's opinion, the administration should be “More flexible” with the habitability certificates In this area, if you really believe that there is a problem of access to housing, as explained during the presentation of the XXX Report on the Housing Market of Tecnocasa that coordinates.

Obtaining such a card is not easy. To begin with, not all the autonomous communities contemplate the approval of the change of use of the commercial premises. There is no single code for these types of projects and the direct responsibility to grant a new life to spaces built at the time for commercial purposes lies with the urban planning plans of each town hall, as explained by the appraiser Tinsa. But the demand is there. According to official figures, in the last three years The request for this type of license in Madrid and Barcelona has tripled. In the capital, the town hall has approved 778 licenses of this type since 2016, although in peripheral neighborhoods such as San Blas, Tetuán, Carabanchel or Vallecas. In Barcelona, ​​only in the first quarter of 2019 they reached 200. And this despite the fact that, from a legal point of view, there is legal support. The Supreme Court ruled in September 2013 that the description of the property as a premises does not deprive the owner of the subsequent possibility of assigning it to housing, if there is no express prohibition in the constitutive title or in the statutes.


However, to transform a place into a home you have to get a change of use and thus be able to apply for the occupancy license. For this, it is necessary to make sure that the property complies with the habitability conditions established in the urban planning regulations and in the Technical Building Code. In addition, it must be ensured that the premises admit residential use, that there is no limitation in the number of homes per hectare in accordance with urban planning regulations and that the neighborhood community agrees. To these requirements can be added other municipal. Madrid, for example, requires that the minimum useful area be 38 square meters.

Montalvo believes that the premises would be a "Imaginative solution" habitable, not the "hive floors" from Barcelona that are about to arrive in Madrid. A way to tackle the housing problems in Spain, where the prices of second-hand apartments fell 2.1% last year for the first time since 2014 because the offer does not meet the demand, according to Tecnocasa. The lack of product, combined with the increase in prices in recent years and the increasing effort to acquire a house, has pushed a lot of demand from the rental property market. A movement that has increased lease prices and led to lower sales prices. Tecnocasa believes that while the Spanish economic situation continues, "the pattern of decline will not be very pronounced, although it is expected."


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