Neighbors in Barcelona's Poble-sec demand contract renewals ahead of sale of building

Sindicat de Llogateres tenants' union blasts Socialists for not backing Spain-wide rent cap law

Residents of Barcelona's Carrer de Tapioles 15 holding a press conference outside their building
Residents of Barcelona's Carrer de Tapioles 15 holding a press conference outside their building / Cristina Tomàs White
Cristina Tomàs White

Cristina Tomàs White | @cristinatomasw | Barcelona

November 23, 2022 11:41 AM

November 23, 2022 07:13 PM

A group of neighbors in Barcelona's Poble-sec neighborhood have joined forces, with support from the Sindicat de Llogateres tenants' union, to demand contract renewals ahead of the sale of their building.

While not yet finalized, the property located at Carrer de Tapioles 15 is in the process of being bought by Second House, a real estate investment fund they fear could end up pricing them out. Residents say they expect the deal to be closed in early December. 

"We're waiting to see what the new owners want to do exactly," Paloma, who lives in the building with her partner and her 1-year-old, told Catalan News. "But they plan to do minor renovations and sell the apartments at a very high price."

There are 15 apartments in the building, of which 11 have tenants. Seven of these households, including Paloma's, are at risk of having their contracts rescinded by Second House once they complete the sale - at the moment, their contracts are extended on a month-to-month basis. 

"They tell us not to worry, but maybe they plan to renovate while we're still renting, and then once they're done they'll tell us we can buy," Paloma said. "But we're not willing to buy at that price." One of the apartments is already for sale for over €300,000

"The price is abusive," Tomoyuki, one of the residents, said

"The price is abusive, especially since salaries aren't going up but the cost of living is," Tomoyuki, who has lived in the building for 14 years, said.

According to him, the only people who have gone to visit the flat are "young and foreign." "They can work remotely and earn a lot of money and move around from country to country," Tomoyuki said, "but of course, this impacts the lives of residents and something has to be done."

The Sindicat de Llogeteres and the building's residents will be meeting with Second House on Thursday to discuss their concerns, but the neighbors are not overly optimistic about the outcome. 

Rent cap law

The tenants' union seized the opportunity to urge Spain's ruling Socialists to get behind a Spanish rent cap law.

"Right now this law is being blocked because the Socialists are not giving in to these basic demands," Enric Aragonès, the Sindicat de Llogateres' spokesperson, told Catalan News. "The vast majority of the population, including most of the Socialists' voters, are in favor of regulating rents."

Housing rights groups, as well as some left-leaning parties, have campaigned for a Spain-wide law, especially after the Constitutional Court struck down Catalonia's rent cap law for overstepping its authority last spring.