Barcelona City Council’s first fine against a landlord for charging rent above the Generalitat de Catalunya’s reference price index
Barcelona City Council penalises the landlord for setting a rent higher than that established by Catalan law
Barcelona City Council has fined a landlord for the first time for charging too high a rent to the tenant of a property. Specifically, the landlord was fined €9,000.
In the case in question, the tenants of a flat located in the San Antonio neighbourhood discovered that the rent they were paying (€1,200) was higher than the rent established by the landlord and owner of the property in the previous lease (€950), as well as above the Generalitat’s reference index and, consequently, in violation of Law 11/2020, of 18 September, which limits rental prices in Catalonia.
Indeed, as established by Law 11/2020, the monthly rent of the new lease cannot be higher than the rent of the previous lease, nor can it be higher than the rent established by the Generalitat’s reference index.
The lessee signed the lease in December 2020 and, therefore, with the Catalan law in force, without having any record of the price of the previous contract, something that must also be recorded by law.
Faced with this situation, the tenant asked the Institut Català del Sòl (INCASÒL) for information on the rent deposited by the previous tenant and found that the rental price was €950 per month.
The tenant, on learning that he was paying a rent 250 € more expensive than the previous lease, informed the landlord with the aim of negotiating a reduction in the rent in order to adapt to the provisions of the regulations. According to the tenant, the request was not heard, so he decided to report the irregularity to the Barcelona City Council.
The Barcelona City Council opened a disciplinary proceeding in which it fined the landlord €9,000. According to Catalan law, it is considered a serious offence to rent a property in breach of the criteria for determining the rent established by law, with fines ranging from €9,000 to €90,000.
Barcelona City Council has therefore opted to set the minimum sanction. With this fine, the tenants have not only paid a rent of €950 per month, but have also managed to recover the €1,600 they paid to the agency in fees, which according to Decree 7/2019, should have been paid by the property owner as it is a legal entity.
Regarding the latter, the lessor committed another irregularity as he signed the lease as a natural person when in fact the property belongs to a company. In addition, the tenants have filed a lawsuit against the property claiming a refund of the money paid in excess (€1,900) during the eight months in which they were paying €1,200.
It is important to note that this first fine coincides with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the aforementioned Catalan regulations, with regard to the freedom to agree rental prices, as well as the new housing law proposal that the central government will launch shortly, the essential elements of which were analysed by AddVANTE in the last AddNEWS, with the price limit being the flagship of the same.