FAMILIES have taken to living in commercial properties in Barcelona following the price of rent skyrocketing.
Last year alone the average rent in the Catalonian capital increased 10% to €900, while 30,000 non-residential premises remained unoccupied across the province.
Official figures show that 6,000 of these are in Barcelona, although the actual figure is believed to be closer to 10,000.
A debate is now being raised about whether these properties should be turned into housing to help alleviate the crisis.
“The City does not oppose turning former commercial space into housing, as long as they have occupancy licenses and it does not affect retail trade,” said Barcelona city sources.
One family who purchased a commercial space in the Sant Marti district six months ago said they had considered leaving the city due to the cost of rent.
Living with her husband and daughter, Cristina* told El Pais: “It’s harder to register on the municipal census, plus the owner cannot rent it out as housing, which makes it harder to prove that you have the right to send your kids to the neighborhood school or use the local health center.”
Of the 78,033 commercial properties in Barcelona, 77.2% are in use, it is believed 3,106 are being used as living quarters despite having no occupancy licenses.
This is the case to some degree through Spain. There are many abandoned industrial and vacant properties commercial buildings, but construction and estate associations block change of use. The municipal architects simply refuse change of use by saying, “People don’t live in factories and offices.”