Assignement of 30% of new developments for social housing.

Who will be affected by a new amendment introduced by the Metropolitan General Plan in Barcelona?

We will share with you a brief analysis of the Amendments of the Metropolitan General Plan that affects the city of Barcelona which has aroused much controversy. Some people believe that it is an impermissible interference in the property right which will further increase the prices of flats. For others, it is nothing more than a way of fulfilling a constitutional obligation of public authorities to facilitate citizens access to decent housing. The (shortage of) housing is a key issue in the municipal elections which will be held in May 2019.

Here, you have a full text of the amendment published in the Official Newsletter of the Generalitat of Catalunya (DOGC).

Introduction and entry into force.

On December 12, 2018, the Subcommittee on Urban Planning of the municipality of Barcelona approved the Amendment of the Metropolitan General Plan regarding public housing protection in the municipality of Barcelona. Its objective ​ is to establish a special regulation regarding the use of housing, complementary to the urban regulations, which allows obtaining public protection housing to cover the needs of the population of Barcelona. The amendment came into force on December 14, 2018, (the date of its publication in the DOGC). There are two major characteristic changes included in the Metropolitan General Plan. One of them refers to the obligation to allocate 30% of a property development for public protection housing in the municipality of Barcelona. The other one relates to preemptive and withdrawal measures which will be considered by the City Council of Barcelona when a public flat is sold.

Content of the reform in Barcelona

In the first place, the approved amendment obliges anyone who possesses a multi-family housing with a surface bigger than 600m2 to allocate a minimum 30% of the constructed area to public housing. This obligation affects both a new development (construction and development of a new plant and a building extension with access to new premises or functional units) as well as the major development works, which includes:

  1. Any global interventions in the building which entail any of the following actions: a) increase of a roof or built volume, b) increase of the number of existing houses, departments or functional units, c) change of main use of the building, d) general redistribution of spaces with modification of common elements.
  2. The replacement of the building, even when the elevation or other structural elements are maintained.
  • The successive or simultaneous completion of renovation or rehabilitation works whose cumulative cost is equal to or greater than 50% of the value of a new construction with similar characteristics.

The parcels resulting from the execution of industrial area or plots included in actions of endowment which have already incorporated the assignment of social housing are left out.

Secondly, social housing will be subject to a preferential acquisition in favor of the Barcelona City Council, subject to a period of two months from the day f receiving the notification. The City Council may decide to acquire a property which it is interested in to transfer, renouncing the right to a preferential purchase, if the interested seller does not respond to the notification. The Modification of the Metropolitan General Plan also raises some doubts regarding the location of the social housing which, in general, should be in the same building where the new work is performed, or major construction will be carried out. However, there is an exception for those cases where the works were carried out in different plots, but always in the same neighborhood, so that all the social housing could be located in a single plot.

How long have these limitations been applied?

This amendment will not be applied immediately. It is important to introduce a transitory regime especially:

– Those urban actions carried out under the protection of an urban license requested before the publication of the Modification of the Metropolitan General Plan don’t have any limitation, regardless of the date of the purchase of the property.

– The properties that have been purchased and registered in a public deed between January 1, 2016, and June 30, 2016, have two years to request works license without assigning 30% to social housing. However, they will have to prove that it won’t be economically viable. This accreditation must be done with a technical report followed by an economic study which, in turn, must be approved by the city council technicians. Anyone can see that this particular point is going to be the origin of legal conflicts.

– In licenses of works in real estate that have been subject to formalized transaction in a public document between July 1, 2016 and June 20, 2018, there will a postponement applied of two years to get the reservation of 30% in social housing.

– Any construction license (greater than 600 m2 etc.) requested after December 14, 2020 must comply with the obligation to incorporate the 30% assignment without any exception.

It is a very important nuance, because in accordance with the Spanish civil law you can acquire a property in a private document accompanied by an effective confirmation proving the possession of the property, in any ways: by physically occupying, renting, paying taxes, expenses or carrying out works, etc.

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