An abandoned building in the middle of the Arenal promenade. | MDB Digital


The recently issued decree addressing urgent housing measures aims to tackle the housing crisis by repurposing unfinished buildings, often referred to as 'skeletons,' with expired licences on urban land. These unused structures, previously deemed unusable, will be transformed into affordable housing for the residents of the Balearics. This initiative seeks to bring these buildings into compliance, allowing them to contribute to the local housing supply at limited prices, which is a new category introduced by the Government.

To qualify under this new regulation, the buildings must meet specific criteria. Primarily, the structures must be fully completed to expedite the process of making the apartments available for occupancy. This will not only provide affordable housing but also contribute to creating a more densely populated urban environment. The goal is to maximise the use of existing urban land by completing these unfinished buildings, thus addressing the housing shortage more efficiently.

The exact number of buildings that could benefit from this decree is not known, as the government does not maintain a comprehensive list of such structures. However, it is evident that many municipalities across the islands, particularly in towns like Manacor and Palma, have numerous unfinished buildings. According to the latest Housing Census by the Ministry, the Balearic Islands have 625,123 built dwellings, not accounting for these 'skeletons.' Even if a small percentage of these structures are repurposed, it could result in a significant increase in the number of affordable housing units available.

One critical stipulation of the decree is that the height of these buildings cannot be increased beyond what was originally permitted in their expired licenses. This provision ensures that the buildings adhere to the original urban planning guidelines, despite their state of disrepair. This special regime applies specifically to buildings that had once been granted municipal licences but have since fallen out of compliance, making them currently unusable. By bringing these buildings back into compliance, the government opens up new opportunities for affordable housing development.

Additionally, the decree enables the Government and local councils to implement other housing initiatives. One such programme allows public land to be leased to private entities for the construction of subsidised housing, which will be rented out at controlled prices. The mayor of Palma, Jaime Martínez, has expressed his intention to use this provision to bring approximately 1,200 new homes to the market in the coming years.

Complementing these construction initiatives are new developments by Ibavi and innovative rental services such as 'Alquiler Seguro.' This programme aims to rent vacant properties from owners and sublet them at prices 30% below the market rate. The Government believes that this measure will encourage homeowners to rent out their vacant properties, thereby increasing the availability of affordable rental housing for residents. These measures collectively aim to alleviate the housing crisis by making better use of existing resources and providing a variety of affordable housing options.