The secretary general of CCOO, Unai Sordo, and the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, presented on Monday a trade union initiative for the right to housing in which they propose that maximum rental prices can be set in Spain through the Law on Urban Leases (LAU).
For both general secretaries, this measure is necessary to guarantee the population’s access to a house with “reasonable” prices. For Deaf, it is necessary that access to housing becomes a right and not a business.
In this line, he recalled that the average monthly rent in Spain is around 674 euros, but there are “huge” territorial differences between some sites and others. “For 55% of households paying this average rental price means allocating more than a third of their monthly income,” recalled the secretary general.
The unions are committed to the existence of reliable official statistics with the highest level of territorial breakdown possible on the level and the variation of the average rental cost in order to carry out this limitation of the maximum rental prices.
Therefore, they believe that a commission must be created with the participation of the different administrations involved, which annually identifies and updates the stressed rental areas, crossing the rental prices and disposable income of households, which “will allow the areas to be identified annually priority actions of public administrations “.
However, the trade union initiative says that the price limitation will be temporary, and revisable annually. To do this, the high cost of the average rent in relation to the average income of the households will depend on what remains in a given area.
“Ambitious” housing plan
CCOO and UGT have urged the Government to legislate and regulate in their field of competence and to promote actions in the field of social housing. They also believe that they should propose an “ambitious” Housing, Rental and Rehabilitation Plan, that is endowed with sufficient and sustained funds over time and that focuses public resources on “affordable” rent and a public rental housing park.
In addition, they believe that a “safe and affordable” Rental Program should be promoted. The objective of this initiative is to capture unoccupied homes, rehabilitate them when necessary and introduce them into a secure rental system for the lessor and affordable for the lessee.
On the rehabilitation of homes, unions are committed to optimize the housing stock already built and to incorporate a relevant percentage of homes into the Rental Program. Both CCOO and UGT believe that the volume of financing from the central government may be greater when accompanied by financing from other administrations.
On the other hand, both organizations have made it clear that housing should be encouraged as a good of use and not as an investment good. Thus, they are committed to fiscally taxing empty homes located in stressed areas with a strong need for housing, either lien linked to their cadastral value or real estate prices in their reference area.
Regulate the tourist rental
They also find it necessary to regulate tourist homes and limit themselves in stressed areas, because “the proliferation of tourist homes in major urban areas and areas with strong tourist pressure is making real estate prices more expensive and reducing the supply of residential rentals.”
As a first step, they advocate having information on the size of the sector and the concentration of the offer to identify saturated areas, where the proportion of tourist homes exceeds a certain percentage of rental housing and total housing.
The second axis of action of the trade union initiative is to increase the resources allocated annually to the state housing policy and concentrate the resources on a plan to consolidate a public housing stock for affordable rent.
For CCOO and UGT, the goal is for the housing policy budget to initially reach 0.3% annual GDP in four years (between 3,600 and 4,000 million a year). However, they consider that in the medium term the objective should be to reach 1% of GDP.
They also think that public or protected land should be allocated to public or affordable housing and that there is a real second chance for households with mortgage debts. From their point of view, with this new procedure, the judges should be able to paralyze the foreclosure in the case of insolvent people in good faith, establishing a payment plan that allows them to maintain the home.
Cost of 3,000 million annually
The unions figure at 2,980 million euros the annual cost that this Public and Social Rental Plan would have, which includes a first axis of measures that address the regulation and action on the rental market and in a second phase a public rental plan and social from public and private land to promote a public rental park.
“Spain needs to undertake an in-depth tax reform and housing policy has much to say in this regard,” the top representatives of the trade union organizations have made clear, who have asked the Pedro Sánchez Executive to be “brave” and not Limit yourself to “goodwill” measures, but propose effective measures to reduce the price of maximum rents. “We think we have to be more offensive,” they have made clear.