Laura Ramos |
Madrid (EFE) , according to complaints from those affected.
According to the Spotahome rental platform (present in 28 countries), the demand for rooms, which far exceeds the supply, has skyrocketed by 40% in recent months, among other reasons because living in a studio or a one-bedroom apartment bedroom is no longer affordable for an increasing number of renters.
Unlike regular residence contracts, in which tenants are protected by the Urban Leasing Law (LAU), room rentals are still governed by the Civil Code and the contracts depend on the will of the parties.
They are contracts of six or nine months and, after that time, the owners can raise the prices by the amount they want.
They raffle the 2% cap
In addition, they are not subject to the 2% limit decreed until December 31, 2023 for annual rent updates, since this and other government measures only affect habitual residences.
Víctor Palomo, a lawyer for the Tenants Union (SI), assures that “this is encouraging landlords or investment funds that are deriving regular homes to homes where they rent rooms separately, so as not to be subject to the LAU.”
In statements to EFE, Palomo has denounced the “legal trap door” of having a room that has been used for years as a habitual residence, thanks to a regulation from 1889.
«What we are saying is that the room rent has to be regulated as the LAU, as if it were a habitual residence, unless the temporality is very justified. That it is a contract of less than six months could be understood, but in Madrid we have people who have been living for years with room contracts that are extended every year and that is a legal trapdoor, we cannot speak of legal fraud, but it is on the verge of legality,” he argues.
Groups such as women with children and very low income, immigrants and young people with precarious employment are the most affected, although there are also room tenants with resources or acceptable salaries, but who do not meet the requirements set by real estate agents to enter a living place.
In the Rental Negotiating Agency (ANA) they confirm that there are owners who “misrepresent the use of a small house and not susceptible to being divided by rooms, normally to skip the LAU” and that it is a growing practice.
Since before the start of the course, this company has been advising students to “share as little as possible” and to opt for renting their usual residence.
On the other hand, it alerts owners that renting by rooms “means greater wear and tear on the home and an exponential increase in problems and conflicts.”
Raises of 30%
According to the Fotocasa portal, sharing a home in Spain costs an average of 440 euros per month, 66% more than seven years ago (2015).
Although it is difficult to quantify them, because most are not declared to the Treasury, some sources estimate that there are some 250,000 rented rooms.
Barcelona, with an average price of 575 euros per room, is the most expensive city in Spain, while Madrid (524 euros) is one of the most affected by the increase in the last year (34%).
“We have cases in which they are paying 300 euros for a room and they have raised a rise to 400 euros, that is, they go up 25% or 33% of what it had been costing,” says the SI lawyer.
A paradigmatic case
One of the cases he handles is that of Eunate, 26, who lives in a 60-square-meter, four-bedroom shared apartment in a low-rise house in a neighborhood in the south of Madrid.
A Social Work student in the afternoon, Eunate is a university scholarship holder, works in the morning in a school canteen and her total salary does not reach 700 euros.
He assures that when he rented the room, a year and a half ago, for 290 euros, the manager asked him how long he planned to stay and she told him that it was indefinite, that it was not something temporary.
When he saw that the contract was for nine months, he asked and they told him not to worry, that it was renewed automatically: “He told me not to worry and I believed it,” he says in an interview with EFE.
After a year, the manager wrote to inform him of an increase of 30 euros and that was when he found out that he had a temporary contract subject to the Civil Code and that they could raise him whatever they wanted.
She then tried to negotiate the price increase with the owners and to have them make her a habitual residence contract subject to the LAU, but they refused and she decided not to pay the increase, which on the other hand they had communicated to her after the deadline.
With a permanent contract, as he explains, they could not increase the price in five years – only the annual update currently capped at 2% – and he would also be entitled to the help of 250 euros from the Youth Rental Bonus.
«I work here, I study here, I am registered here, I have been in this neighborhood for many years and I want to stay here. I also like the house, I have always paid at the beginning of the month, I have not given any problem; What’s more, I have taken care of this house and I want to stay, without a doubt ».
The owners – four brothers who own another shared apartment in the same two-story house and the adjoining mechanical workshop – have already sent him three notices by burofax that they are going to file an eviction lawsuit.