“Mechanisms to contain or eventually lower prices will be established, both for new and existing contracts.” This phrase from agreement between the PSOE and United We Can that gave the green light in the Council of Ministers to the draft General State Budget for 2021 is at the center of the dispute between the two parties that make up the coalition government on the housing law, which has already been delayed for several months. The Ministry of Transport of José Luis Ábalos considers the negotiation closed after having agreed to include the prohibition of raising rents beyond the CPI in areas declared “stressed”, that is, with strong increases. But in the Ministry of Social Rights of Ione Belarra considers it insufficient. United We can sources assure elDiario.es that right now the Government agreement is not being fulfilled and that in these circumstances they will not approve the rule.
Half a year of the Catalan rent price limit: tenants who lower their contract and uncertain impact on the market
This same week the department of Ábalos sent the department of Belarra a proposal with the regulatory details of how the income freeze would be with the intention of receiving the definitive approval. But from United We Can consider that “the proposal to freeze the price of rents in stressed areas does not comply with the Government agreement and, therefore, is insufficient to close the negotiation.” This has been assured by sources from United We Can, who demand “to comply with the drop in prices agreed between the partners.”
This same Wednesday a counterproposal was sent from Social Rights that, say the same sources, “does include a mechanism to lower rental prices.” Said mechanism, in short, happens because new contracts in a stressed area cannot exceed the maximum set by the price benchmark carried out by the Ministry of Transport. Thus, if a flat has a rent higher than that limit, in the new contract it should go down to that level.
“For the ministers of United We Can, this is the ideal way to guarantee that the autonomous communities undertake the necessary lowering of rent prices,” state government sources.
“Condition sine qua non “
In the PSOE they maintain that the measures taken by Ábalos will lower prices, so the government agreement would be satisfied. This was explained this Wednesday by José Luis Ábalos in an appearance before the Congressional Transportation committee, in which he assured: “It is a matter that must be negotiated with the government partners. If you ask me if we are going to comply with the government agreement , I say yes. In that agreement it says to stop the abusive rises. And that we are going to do: stop the abusive rises “.
In addition to the freezing of rental income in stressed areas, the Ministry of Transport recalls its plan to implement a public housing stock and the landlord bonuses lower prices. The Ministry of Transport believes that including an express drop in prices would discourage the entry of homes to the market, something that it has not happened for example in Barcelona.
But for United We Can there is no debate about it. In his opinion, it is a measure expressly agreed upon in the framework of the budget negotiation at the end of 2020 and a historic claim from the confederal group, as well as from the parliamentary allies of the Government and social movements. In fact, they believe that the Transport proposal would not give the necessary legal umbrella to the Catalan housing law, that does establish a limit on rents and that the Executive has ended up resorting to the Constitutional Court for, in principle, a question of competences.
From Unidos Podemos they assure that the tax credit proposal was not part of any agreement, although they are willing to assume it. And they remember that the 2020 budget negotiation was very tough and that one of the main obstacles was precisely the inclusion of those five words (“eventually lower prices”). “It was a condition sine qua non“To close that agreement, the same sources assure. In the confederal group there are no discrepancies on this point and all the spaces that make it up (Podemos, IU, En Comú Podem, Galicia en Común, Alianza Verde) have reaffirmed that the future housing law must expressly include the mechanism to lower rents.