Palma town hall has written to the national minister for the urban agenda, José Luis Ábalos, and asked the Spanish government to allow it to regulate the prices of rented accommodation in the city. A familiar demand from the current town hall administration, the councillor for decent housing, Neus Truyol, says that there is now an added necessity to regulate and cap prices - the strains caused by the crisis and especially a fall in incomes.
In February, Ábalos said that the government would be pushing ahead with legislation for the regulation of rent prices. This would be presented before the summer, and integral to this legislation would be an index of prices for areas where there is the greatest price “tension”, Palma being one of these. The index and the legislation have been delayed, which isn’t altogether surprising. The minister has been more concerned with matters pertaining to his other portfolio - transport.
Ábalos has undergone something of a Damascene conversion. In 2018 he was opposed to some form of rent price capping. In February, however, he stated that housing cannot solely be treated as a market asset; it is a product of basic necessity requiring an urgent plan and a long-term strategy for affordable housing.
The principle of fixing prices has merit, and Truyol is right to highlight the additional strains. But there is the counter view that this does little or nothing for making affordable accommodation available.
An Ábalos colleague, Nadia Calviño, the economic affairs minister, tends to agree. There are no “miracle measures to lower prices”.