In the real estate market, and specifically in the rental market, we can find very different situations that can lead to abuses and breaches of current regulations at all times. But does the tenant suffer all the abuse? Or can the owner also feel helpless?
Last September, the new Rental Price Containment Act came into force (11/2020 Law of September 18), with the aim of curbing the huge rise in prices that was being experienced, especially in Barcelona and the metropolitan area. This lowers and freezes the price of new rentals in areas with high demand for housing. An average reduction of 4.12% has been achieved.
With these measures, it seems that politicians are responding to the demands of platforms and unions, in favour of affordable or, at least, regulated housing. A Quick Guide has even been published to announce the scope of the new regulations.
What are the abuses?
Clearly, it was unsustainable to keep the upward pattern in rental prices, as has been happening in recent years. Tenants have basic rights that are sometimes violated, and they should report them if they find themselves in any of the following situations of abuse:
- Upon signing the rental agreement, the owner must deliver the certificate of occupancy and the energy certificate. Obtaining these documents comes at a cost, so some owners may try to rent the home without having them, even though they are mandatory. For the rental of commercial premises, only the energy certificate is required.
- Make a peaceful use of the home, without the owner being able to disturb it. Many times the so-called real estate bullying (harassment) occurs, that is, making the tenant’s life miserable and forcing them to leave, thus being able to speculate with that home. These actions are usually carried out by large holders, such as mutual funds.
- The owner must take care of the necessary repairs and maintenance. The tenant can make these repairs if they are urgent, with prior notice, and they can be deducted from the price, but sometimes these repairs are not considered necessary, and there is no refund of the cost.
- They can terminate the contract and have the deposit back, but there are owners who do not want to return it, and this money could not have been deposited in Incasòl as required. This may mean that the rental has not been registered and, as a result, you may have more difficulty having the deposit back.
However, the right to the return of the deposit is lost if the home is left damaged, which can lead to a repair cost.
Protection of owners
However, you may find that the owner is not to blame for a conflicting relationship with the tenant. For example, it may happen that the home has not been legally rented, but someone has decided to move in without permission; that there are defaults on the agreed rent; or even that there is a misbehaviour of the tenant.
The new law does not resolve any of these situations in which an owner may be. However, as citizens, they also have the right to be given tools to resolve them. The only forecast that is made is for small tenants who may be in a vulnerable situation, who are allowed a 5% increase in rent, above the established maximums.
Owners can easily find themselves helpless as they are considered to be the strongest side in the deal. But the truth is that they can see how a tenant stops paying or damages their home, and that the solution to the problem always has to end up in court, which means a high cost of time and money.
The point is that this problem affects investment funds and small holders alike. With the new regulations, it seems that this situation is beginning to reverse, as they take into account the diversity of owners that exist, and make the distribution of responsibilities in this madness that is the real estate market a little more equitable.