Rent apartment with 252 square meters, outside and very bright in front of the Retiro park. The price, 1,000 euros, includes garage. When Lorena Montes, 26, saw an ad like that, she could not believe it. This physiotherapist has been thinking about changing her current apartment for months, the fifth since she moved from Barcelona to Madrid four years ago, and is looking for a rental with two friends. The announcement could be a claim or directly a scam, but it is real. He trick is discovered in the second line: "Housing needs a comprehensive reform that would take the tenant." As specified, a work with an estimated cost of 126,000 euros. If it is less, the monthly amount will increase, which in any case will be reviewed after exceeding three years of contract.
"The law allows that the payment of the rent is replaced by reforms in the house", clarifies the lawyer of Legálitas Asunción Santos. "In that sense, the clause would be valid," he continues, "although I understand that it would only compensate if the landlord guarantees a long term in the contract." Although adjusted to law, this case exemplifies a reality for those seeking to rent a property. As prices increase – an average of 18.6% in Spain in the last five years, with peaks of 47.5% in Barcelona and 38% in Madrid, according to Fotocasa – clauses and requirements proliferate that make it even harder to find a home. "For a couple of years we have been detecting an increase in the population with problems in accessing housing for rent," says Natalia Palomar, attorney for the Provivienda association. "Individuals and proprietary companies have a place to choose, so they decide the price as well as the guarantees they think are appropriate," he explains.
Finding examples of illegal practices that violate the Urban Tenancy Law (LAU) is not difficult. "I've seen places where they make you pay several months in advance, I know a girl who had to pay six at a time," says Montes. The LAU is clear about this and in Article 17.2 it stipulates that "in no case may the landlord require the advance payment of more than one month's rent". The contrary requirement may come from the confusion between the rent and the deposit, deposits or guarantees that the owner can request as a guarantee of solvency.
The evolution has favored the entrance of new actors in the market. According to data from the brokerage Arrenta Quarto Pilar, the non-payment insurance for rent grew by 30% in 2017 and will do so at a similar rate this year. "The main problem is the fear of the owner to stop paying," says Antonio Carroza, CEO of Alquiler Seguro.
This company, which has intermediated in the leasing contracts of 50,000 properties, promises the collection of the rent. "We demand a lot from the tenants because we are owners protection, but we also demand from them," he says. In his opinion, the main abuse of landlords "is the poor state of the housing they intend to rent" and the key is that "the additional guarantees [de solvencia] be proportional. " Before people in a situation of vulnerability who do not pass the scrutiny of risk assessment tools, he explains, the only thing they can do is contact "with associations or directly with the administrations, which are the ones that are obliged to solve that".
Another of the legal aspects that most contravene, point out the lawyers Santos and Palomar, is the duration of the contract, since a legal reform of 2013 modified the deadlines. Less than four months enjoyed Rebeca Patillas, vitoriana of 24 years, of a floor that rented in Madrid a year ago. He entered October and a month later he found a warning that he should leave. The owners said they needed to sell it and claimed that one of their roommates had a previous contract, although what Patillas signed was a new contract and not a subrogation. "They warned us that at six months they could throw us out, I agreed in full exams, I did not know what could happen and I did not have the money to pay for a lawyer; so I looked for another floor, "says the young woman. Although the minimum duration of the contract is six months, explains the lawyer of Legálitas, "the tenant is allowed to stay in the property for up to three years and can only be thrown out if the landlord or his or her immediate relatives need housing, but to to inhabit it and not to sell it. " No specific clause could justify the expulsion of Patillas because it would be considered "null".
On the other hand, Patricia Tamarit, neighbor of the Ensanche de Vallecas, in Madrid, has fulfilled her entire contract. Since 2015, when she arrived at her current apartment, she has had two children with her husband. The owner of the property has also changed. Grupo Suquia sold its block at the beginning of this year to Vivenio Socimi, an investment company of Renta Corporación and the Dutch pension fund APG. Tamarit shows the letter that informs him that the contract ends in December. He was not surprised because his neighbors have been receiving them since May. He came with an offer: 865 euros per month (now they pay 725) plus a bail update and a non-payment insurance. Others have been offered to avoid insurance with a deposit equivalent to three monthly payments. Tamarit knows that they are legal requirements: "We can not denounce, but there is another law that says that any Spanish has the right to decent housing and we tell them that what they want is abusive." The plural is due to the fact that dozens of neighbors, together with PAH Vallekas and the Tenants' Union, have conspired against their eviction.
The words "abusive" or "abuse" are frequent among those who describe negative experiences when looking for a house, but its legal reflection is not simple. "The concept of abusive clause is not applicable to contracts between individuals," says lawyer Santos. Regarding solvency, he continues, "the landlord can demand all the guarantees that he estimates" and until the contract is signed it is he who "has the upper hand because if he does not trust, in the end he does not rent you". In the result, the stories of the three tenants coincide: demand for deposits, guarantees and insurance, castings exhaustive, requirement of infinity of payrolls, income statements and other receipts of income … None recalls such complicated procedures between two and four years ago.
The Town Councils of the two largest Spanish cities offer advice for tenants. In Barcelona, the network of housing offices (which also serves other consultations) covers all the districts. In addition specific talks are held and a recent agreement with the Bar Association will allow to offer free legal assistance in Ciutat Vella, one of the areas with the highest real estate pressure. In the Madrid district of Fuencarral-El Pardo, the Service of Intermediation and Social Accompaniment in Rental has been in operation since 2017. "It is a fundamental resource and one of the best tools we have to defend a basic right," said the council's president that district, Guillermo Zapata. A similar service has just been installed in the Centro district and the City wants to extend it to more neighborhoods.
In the chapter on solutions, a coincidence is the need for more rental housing. But in the way to achieve it, very different proposals arise. Carroza, manager of Safe Rent, sees basic to animate to the proprietors "that could recover his house of faster way in case of non-payment". For Provivienda's lawyer, "a good practice, compatible with others, would be to strengthen the sustainable rental mediation pockets". And on the side of the Administrations, Zapata advocates directly for the creation of a public park. Fede G. Astrain, director of the housing office of Ciutat Vella in Barcelona, also believes that more public housing would help: "With the current magnitude it is very difficult to correct the difficulties that the citizen finds in the private market".