Monday, May 15, 2017

Real Family And Friends Shouldn't Be Forgotten

The government's housing act is to be used to assist with its tourism regulation. The announcement from the land ministry that the housing bill will include provision for a deposit for rentals of less than a month equivalent to the value of two months' rent can only be interpreted as an attempt to attack the blatantly touristic rentals offered under the tenancy act.

This has to be seen in the context of the government's wish that Madrid reforms the tenancy act so that there is a minimum of one month rental. Madrid may not do this, and the government knows that. It is therefore looking at different approaches to affect legislation - the tenancy act - which isn't its to directly amend: it is a national law and not a regional one.

The two months' requirement, which would seem to also be being contemplated for any type of rental under the tenancy act (bizarrely, given the government's desire to increase access to housing), has been booted upstairs to the Consultative Council, the legal body which is used to check on the regional government's legislation. It normally doesn't get involved, but it is significant that the government should have noted that it is being consulted.

As far as I am aware - and please, if anyone knows otherwise, let me know - more than one month's deposit cannot be demanded according to the tenancy act. If this is indeed the case, then it would seem as if the government is seeking legal opinion as to whether it can proceed.

If it does go ahead with this (assuming there is no legal challenge, which there may well be), part of me thinks that it's not such a bad idea. There again, how enforceable would this deposit be and so how many such deposits would actually be paid? Moreover, and while I'm in full agreement with the government seeking to close the tenancy act loophole, I am concerned about the scope of what it intends to be the legislation (or would like to be the legislation). The deposit idea highlights this and in particular the genuine use of holiday accommodation by "family and friends".

When they were in government and being extremely obstinate in not facilitating some liberalising of the holiday apartment market, the PP did at least make constant reference to the fact that family and friends would of course still be able to have access to accommodation. The family and friends - the genuine ones - seem to have been totally forgotten now.

There are owners whose use of apartments is confined to themselves and to a handful of weeks' occupancy by family (or close friends). Such owners should not have to become bogged down in bureaucracy or indeed be subject to forms of legal (and moral) restraint. They certainly shouldn't have to demand two months' deposit from family members. Nor should, for example, contributions to paying electricity bills be treated as income. It's arrant nonsense that any of this might apply.

The problem is of course knowing who is genuine and who isn't. The government, one has the impression, has given up bothering with any distinction and up to a point one can understand why. That doesn't make its stance any less unreasonable though.

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