The Government Is Sticking Points In Housing

Negotiations between the PSOE and United We Can to address the drafting of the future Housing Law continue to be stalled after verifying in recent days that the same differences persist that have separated them for months on issues such as the regulation of the rental price, the prohibition of evictions beyond the state of alarm or the implementation of a tax on vacant homes, so the approval of the rule will continue to be postponed.

The coalition Executive agreed on October 27 to bring the law to the Council of Ministers within a maximum period of three months, although a few weeks ago the Ministry of Transport decided to freeze the talks to, as explained by the minister himself, José Luis Ábalos, agree on a common position within the department and not resume them until after the Catalan elections on February 14.

From Unidos Podemos, for their part, they assured that the decision came so as not to harm the socialist candidate, Salvador Illa, in the Catalan elections due to the “lack of ambition” of his proposals regarding housing.

The truth is, the discrepancies in housing matters continue to test the seams of the coalition government , already in the spotlight in recent weeks due to other recent debates such as the equality laws or the protests over incarceration by rapper Pablo Hasel.

This same Tuesday the second vice president and leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, has warned the socialists of the “error” that involves “stressing” the coalition Executive by “betraying the word given” and “breaching the agreement” of investiture.

For his part, the president, Pedro Sánchez, has downplayed the disagreements between the PSOE and United We Can : “I, as Prime Minister, am satisfied with the operation of the coalition government during this long year that we have been in office” . Sánchez and Iglesias will meet next week to address the latest disagreements in the coalition government.

Precisely in terms of housing, the PSOE and United We can agree to promote “the regulatory measures necessary to put a ceiling on abusive increases” in rent and empower city councils and communities to “regulate abusive increases in the price of rent in previously declared areas “. Likewise, in the Budget agreement, both formations agreed to “regulate the containment of rental income in the Housing Law “.

Control of rental prices
This is precisely one of the points that has caused the most friction within the Executive. This Monday Ábalos refused to “impose” the control of rent prices in the future Housing Law and was committed to implementing other types of measures such as tax incentives , as they have done in Portugal. In his opinion, with the price control “there may be a market detraction” in which “many of those homes that could be used for rent end up in the sale.”

However, for his partner in the Government, “the agreement requires” and, therefore, the limitation in rental prices should be one of the issues included in the future Housing Law, said the Secretary of State for the Agenda 2030 and leader of Podemos, Ione Belarra.

In addition, a report from the Second Vice Presidency of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda described the ‘Portuguese model’ of tax incentives in order to achieve lower rent prices, which the PSOE opted for, as a “failure” .

In this sense, the Government spokesperson and Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, affirmed this Tuesday that the Ministry of Transport does not renounce to regulate the prices of rental housing , but that the discussion with Podemos is related to the tools and instruments to carry it out.

“It is necessary to take advantage of the experiences that other countries have and the objective that we pursue is that it does not have secondary effects such as the contraction of the rent supply,” said Montero.

In addition, he has pointed out that the Executive seeks that the text of the rule has all “legal perspectives” so that there is no doubt about its ability to adapt. This appreciation of the minister arises as a result of the ruling of the Constitutional Court last week by which it overturned part of the Catalan decree of 2019 on housing, a movement that the Government now looks at carefully when drafting the draft of future state law.

The minister spokesperson has also insisted that the department headed by José Luis Ábalos is working “along the lines of the agreement” that the coalition government allowed.

Therefore, he has made it clear that work is being done to try to avoid the rise in rental prices in particularly stressed areas, but that “the housing problem is much broader than that of stressed areas, which are located in certain nuclei urban of the big cities “.

Another of the initiatives proposed by the ‘morada’ formation in the matter of housing, and which does not enter into the plans of the socialists, is to permanently prohibit the evictions of vulnerable families without alternative housing. This measure was approved temporarily on December 22 and is scheduled to end on May 9, coinciding with the end of the state of alarm.

Then it took more than a month of negotiations between the Government partners and an amendment of United We Can by the hand of EH Bildu and Esquerra Republicana (ERC) to the draft General Budgets. The measure was also criticized by socialist ministers, such as the third vice president, Nadia Calviño, and the defense minister, Margarita Robles, and was a source of friction within the Executive for several weeks.

Those of Iglesias are also committed to implementing measures that encourage the exit of empty homes to the rental market and, for this, they do not rule out implementing initiatives such as the creation of a tax or rate for owners of vacant homes.

Likewise, they have also been in favor of the large owners putting 30% of their properties in “social rent to mobilize empty housing,” said Belarra. In this sense, United We can also advocate setting the figure of a large holder to five or more homes (lowering the band established in the anti-eviction decree that points to ten or more).

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