First fine to a landlord for charging more rent than allowed by law


BarcelonaWhen they decided to share a flat, Ramon, Esteve and Jordi had a maximum of rent. They calculated that, with the salary that each one received, it could not surpass the 1,200 Euros. “We found a flat that fit us and we liked it, and we decided to go ahead,” Ramon explains. The surprise for these three young people between the ages of 27 and 30 came later, when, with the contract in hand, they realized that it violated several points of the current law regulating rents. Far from accepting the proposed conditions – outside the law – the young people, who are affiliated with the Tenants’ Union, decided to stand up to the property and their case has ended up becoming the first sanction of the City Council of Barcelona to some owners for not complying with the rule.

These young people were able to check through Incasòl that the previous contract was € 950, while the new one was € 1,200. According to the law, in a tense area such as Barcelona the landlord cannot raise the price of one contract to another if it is not with certain conditions of improvements and rehabilitation. In addition, the apartment was listed in the document as the property of an individual when, in fact, it belonged to a company. “The contract included a woman as the owner, but this woman had a company and the apartment is in the name of this company and not hers,” says Ramon. In these cases, when the landlord is a legal person, the law does not allow tenants to charge fees, and they, on the other hand, had to pay them. “In addition, being a company, we also realized that they had skipped the LAU [la llei d’arrendaments urbans espanyola], which determines that the contracts must be at least 5 years if the owner is a person and 7 if the landlord is a company “, underlines the young man.

“We asked the administration to investigate the case, and it opened a case in April that has now been closed in our favor,” says Ramon, who describes the owners’ reaction as “surreal but within what , unfortunately, it is normal “. “When we made them notice the illegality and tried to negotiate, they replied that they didn’t think to touch the price, that they didn’t agree with the law and that if we didn’t want that price we could leave. We just wanted a contract. that it complied with current law, “he explains.

So far the property has only returned the fees, 1,600 euros, but has appealed the fine. For their part, the three boys have decided to take legal action to get the price down from € 1,200 to € 950, as required by law, and recover the amounts overcharged with interest. In addition, since August they have started paying the € 950 that would be due to them by law, instead of the 1,200. “I feel anger and helplessness,” admits Ramon in spite of everything. “The owners have the right to raise all these things with minimal consequences, while people like me depend on their will. The law is supposed to protect us, but it costs a lot ‘extra effort to get them to comply,’ laments this boy, who now says the three roommates see no choice but to get the € 950 rent. “We will fight,” he says.

A “flagrant” infraction

“What the property has done is a serious and flagrant infraction, because it exceeds 20% of the regulated rent,” explains Enric Aragonès, spokesman for the Tenants’ Union. Aragonés stresses, however, that “it is also very serious that in a year of the law this will be the first sanction of its kind”. So far, the union points out, all the open files and sanctions imposed had been for misinformation in the apartment ads. “The Generalitat has a team of specific workers to control all this, who should be looking for ex officio and sanctioning ex officio and, if they do not, leave the tenants helpless,” complains Aragonés, who recalls that many tenants they dare not take that step for fear of being left on the street.

“Both the Catalan Housing Agency and the consumer agency can do this job,” he insists, and says that there are many homeowners who, as in this case, put resources to extend deadlines and dodge the law hoping that the Constitutional Court overturns or modifies it. The union, which has advised the three flatmates, says that Ramon, Esteve and Jordi are not an isolated case and that “more sanctions are expected to arrive in the coming weeks”.


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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