Wednesday, December 1

Amparo Pla: “The rent in Spain is opaque, atomized and unprofessional”

This 60-year-old lawyer was the general director of the Public Rental Company (SPA), the first effective attempt by a government in Spain to influence the rental market with an instrument created for this purpose. The Executive José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero presided, and during the short life of that state agency, seven years, the ministers succeeded one another in the housing portfolio María Antonia Trujillo, Carme Chacón and Beatriz Corredor, and the minister Jose Blanco.

The short life of the Public Rental Company began in 2005 and ended in 2012, shortly after the first government of Mariano Rajoy was formed. “In a Board of Directors of SEPES (State Soil Society), they informed me that the SPA was being liquidated. We were about to balance accounts with an agreement with financial institutions, but they would not let us continue. It was sad ”, says Pla today, attentive to the political debate on housing in Spain.

A report by the Court of Auditors estimated the cost of the initiative at 54.17 million euros in 2019. It is more than double the 20 million with which the Company was constituted to try to mediate between landlords and tenants, giving collection insurance to the former and guarantees of maintenance to the latter under an intense rain of criticism from the right.

“We wanted get a change of culture in SpainThat people trust in a professional rental as in other European countries –explains Pla-. In this country, in the 80s people began to say that renting is a waste of money. It was then that the right to housing began to be commercialized. We wanted to mobilize empty housing and incentivize the reduction of the price”.

Opaque sector

Through the window of his house, neighboring the Nuevos Ministerios complex in Madrid, a purely stressed area, the noise of a construction company machines enters. “The rental market in Spain is opaque, atomized and unprofessional”, sentence. “The main difficulty in making politics with rent – he adds – is that we do not have statistics. Most contracts are private, reserved. You cannot trust the statistics of Idealista or Fotocasa, for example, because what they publish in their advertisements is what is requested for rent, not the agreement that is finally reached ”.

Speak in full real estate sector revival scenario, already more than evident in the city, a friend of the murdered Francisco Tomás and Valiente, niece of progressive magistrates Adolfo and Antonio Carretero, who as a teenager saw in his home deal with the clandestine anti-Franco platform Justicia Democrática.

Before leading the first attempt at political penetration in Spain in a market of rentiers, private contracts and bitter lawsuits, Amparo Pla had been an apprentice lawyer in civil rights groups in the United States and in leftist law firms in Madrid. After her experience as a public manager, she has returned to tenant law without too many resources.

The last case that it takes, a hearing scheduled for October 8 and postponed by a neighbor to whom they want to raise the rent: 488 euros a month pays now, with a salary of 1,200 euros reduced by 30% for an endless erte.

And many more cases may come to him: on October 31 the anti-eviction moratoriums promoted and extended by the Government in the pandemic end. Amparo Pla ironizes with the imminence of the end of the term: “It is that evictions have not been prohibited these months, They only gave a little more time, a month, to people in a state of vulnerability, and for that they had to meet requirements that were sometimes very difficult to meet ”.

Throw the money

“In Spain, as the rental is not professionalized, It is seen as normal to rent homes that are not in perfect condition –Said the former director of the SPA-. If there were a public housing stock for rent, there would not be these prices, and rent would not be considered to be throwing money out the window ”.

Based on his experience, he doubts that the Executive will be able to transform the market by law “without changing the productive and financial model of this country.” And on the limits to prices, he says: “I am afraid of hitting the rent, because I know the picaresque.”

Now the embargoes and evictions in Spain “have entered an acceleration scenario after a scenario paralyzed by the covid,” he says because of what he is seeing in the courts. Those affected respond to a robot portrait: “Families with middle-aged parents, affected by ERTE or unemployment, from the service sector, with minor children before a lawsuit that in 99% of cases is with a fund, a bank or a Socimi. With a private landlord it is easier to talk. ”

The speed that the rental real estate market is acquiring shows another of his cases: he started it against one fund, and this he sold to another, and … he is already going for the fifth successive owner as a contender.

In Spain two million rental homes are in demand, according to data from the III National Congress of Real Estate Servicers, which is held next week. And that temperature that he perceives leads the lawyer Pla to warn: “If in Spain there is no political will in favor of public housing and public rent, we expose ourselves to another real estate bubble anytime.

Even when he says goodbye, he pulls out a new thread of conversation about roofs and rents: “You know what? In cities in France and Germany, the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent if he does not explain why beforehand. I’ll leave it there … ”

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