Article 47 of the Constitution states that all Spaniards have the right to enjoy "decent and adequate housing." However, in real estate portals you can see hundreds of homes that sometimes do not even meet minimum requirements for habitability. In Madrid is where the largest number of substandard housing is found, whose prices exceed 450 euros and increase as they approach the center.
According to data from the Housing and Land Observatory collected by epdata, the rental price in Spain reaches an average of 674 euros per month. However, there are large fluctuations in the figures depending on the province, ranging from an average of 336 euros in Lugo to 819 euros in Madrid, whose community has an average salary of 2,350.2 euros and a cost of living a 20% higher than the rest of the communities, according to A study of the cost of living in Spanish cities made by the Bank of Spain.
Malasaña is the area where more flats with these characteristics are rented. In Jesús del Valle street there is a "luminous studio" with sloping ceilings of 16 useful square meters without a room (the folding bed is in the living room) for 550 euros per month and two months deposit. However, if the previous flat does not meet the necessary qualities of a potential tenant, a few minutes' walk away, on Calle Antonio Grilo, there is another 30-square-meter flat with a room for 900 euros. However, before renting it, it is necessary to take into account that one month of agency, one month of deposit and the current month must be paid, that is, 2,700 euros before moving in. But the first and most important thing is to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial solvency, either by providing payroll or guarantees.
This trend affects all the neighborhoods in the center of the capital. "Do not give up your privacy by having to share a flat," says the description of a 12-square-meter interior basement without an elevator that is rented for 420 euros in the Latina neighborhood. "Very cheap," the owner points out in the description.
There are those who take it with humor, but without stopping denouncing the situation. The Zulista parody Twitter account, collects photos and advertisements of tiny flats and shares them.
The profile, which has almost 100,000 followers, was created in 2018 with a clear motto: "It's better to laugh than cry." From it, they encourage other users to share this type of "real estate nightmares". The account collects hundreds of apartments that are rented throughout Spain, and also abroad, but above all it shows the reality of people who have to live in terrible conditions despite paying more than 400 or 500 euros for rent.
The creators of the profile say that the idea arose from a WhatsApp group. One of the people who was in the group started looking for a flat in Madrid and found that "the situation was quite different from the last time she had looked". "As a joke, the most incredible things that he was finding began to happen to the group, things that anyone thought could not even exist," explains one of the people who has the profile and who prefers not to give any information about his identity. "We never talk about who is behind the account," she clarifies.
The creators believe that the success of the Zulista came about, and continues to this day, because "the people who were looking for a flat saw themselves reflected in the situation of finding these things". After four years collecting advertisements and images of these places they continue to be amazed. "It is incredible that it can exist, but it exists. When we believe that we have already seen everything, something appears that manages to surprise us," they relate.
"The largest number of zulos that we find are in Madrid, especially within the M-30 and in the center," they explain. It is one of the largest and most populous cities in Spain and "there is much more supply and demand", which affects the option of renting these almost uninhabitable apartments due to the high prices of the rest.
However, they point out that tourism has also had an impact, and a lot. "A large number of flats have begun to be allocated to holiday homes and that has unbalanced supply and demand and has caused prices to rise and qualities to fall," they say.
They point out that these flats have been around for a long time. "There is a real estate park in Madrid and in other large cities of homes built prior to the 1940s, before some type of habitability regulation was approved. These buildings did not have to meet minimum meters or ventilation and cadastrally they continue to be homes and all that real estate park is in use".