Access to housing has become a problem in many areas of the territory, especially in the so-called stressed areas, where the rental market is totally saturated and prices have become too demanding for most budgets. In this context, the Government has decided to extend for six months the 2% cap on the rise in existing rental contracts to try to curb the impact of rising inflation. However, some owners have found the trap to circumvent this cap: rent by rooms and take advantage of the Civil Code to formalize the contract, which exempts them from exposing themselves to the Urban Leasing Law.
Víctor Palomo, a lawyer for the Madrid Tenants Union, points out in a conversation with La Información that this is not a new practice, but that they have observed how the volume of people affected has increased since 2017. In cities like Madrid or Barcelona, where For many citizens, the rent represents a notable percentage of the salary, it is common for many people to choose to rent a single room instead of an entire apartment or house. Therefore, the profile of those affected is varied, from students who move to continue their studies, young people who are starting their professional career, or even middle-aged people who have lost their residence or have been divorced.
The Urban Leasing Law (LAU), last reformed in 2019 legal entities. In addition, the measures approved by the Executive that limit the increase in the rental amount to 2% and renew for six months the contracts that expire before June 30 without modifying the previously agreed conditions, resulting in application to agreements that is based on the LAU.
The trap of taking advantage of the Civil Code
However, other owners opt for the ‘trap’ of basing their contract on article 1543 of the Civil Code, which establishes that “one of the parties undertakes to give the other the enjoyment or use of a thing for a determined time and a certain price “. But this does not regulate housing specifically, but is applicable to any object, so it does not include all the specificities as if the standard does. From the Tenants Union, they report that it is indeed a fraud of the law, since a specific norm has been developed to regulate the relationship that has to do with housing, but at the same time they are at a crossroads, since the the jurisprudence of Madrid has given the reason to these tenants.
In 2019, a ruling established that shared apartment rental contracts would not be governed by the LAU, because rooms without a bathroom or kitchen utensils do not guarantee “the development of the tenant’s domestic life with the privacy and services that today are considered essential “, since its access is shared. For practical purposes, the fact that the apartment is fully rented by several people or that the relationship is between each one of them and the landlord, does not entail differences in the use of the apartment -they complain from the union- however, doing so enables them to renew leases every few months and raise the rental price, adding to the constant uncertainty of whether or not they will renew their agreement.
In addition, Victor Palomo points out that tax evasion is also taking place. The regulations used for housing oblige the owner to deposit the deposit in the public body authorized to do so in each territory and in case of not doing so, they face a sanction. This procedure requires the public sector to carry out rent control, however, if the Code is taken
Negotiation Housing Law
The Tenants Union believes that the solution happens because what is habitable is specified, so that it stops realizing this paradox that translates into a reduction in the rights of the rented. Something that could materialize through a new reform of the LAU or in the Housing Law that is in process and that the Government expects to be approved “in the coming weeks”, according to the Minister of Transport, Housing and Agenda Urbana, Raquel Sanchez. However, among the fronts open in its processing, it has not transpired if any of the political forces have echoed this claim. At least from the union organization they have no record.
Fuentes de Unidas We can transfer to La Información that its objective is to regulate rental prices in a way that is effective and can prevent abusive increases, although they will refuse to go into details about the negotiation, due to its great technical complexity. During the month of January, its processing has been stopped, unless the table authorizes the holding of extraordinary sessions of the committees involved, as requested by the Government. According to the words of the person in charge of the portfolio involved, the negotiation would be quite advanced and could go ahead as parliamentary normality resumes after the end-of-year break.
For this, the members of the Executive must iron out rough edges since the matter of housing has raised reproaches against the socialist wing since the beginning of the legislature. This is one of the commitments agreed by UP and PSOE to seal the government pact, however, the negotiation of this rule was left in the pipeline when Jose Luis Ábalos was in charge of the Fomento portfolio, before the renewal of seats in the government team. Now, both formations seek to score a goal with which to fatten their social agenda before launching the 2023 electoral cycle.