Fines and costs of up to €90,000 will apply to private landlords who illegally increase rents prices, under new regulations in Catalunya.
The Barcelona City Council approved a range of measures to strengthen the powers of tenants against money-grabbing landlords last September but no one had yet received a fine under the new laws – until now.
This week Barcelona City Council fined a landlord for the first time for setting a rental price above what is deemed appropriate by the Catalunya Housing Agency’s Average Price Index.
The landlord was penalised €9,000 for asking the tenants to pay €1,200 per month, when the previous contact was just €950 a month.
According to regulations, which came into effect last September, if you are signing a new rental contract for a house or an apartment that was rented out over the past five years under market value as determined by the Average Price Index, your landlord will not be able to increase rent.
Failure to do so will mean landlords can face fines between €9,000 and €90,000.
Despite the rules being in place, the landlord signed the contract with his new tenants in December 2020.
After consulting the Catalunya Land Institute (Incasol), the tenants discovered that the previous contract was for €950 euros, instead of the €1,200.
“The City Council agreed with us, but we continued to pay an illegal rent,” said Ramon Casas, one of the tenants.
“We contacted the property and demanded that they adjust the rental price to legality, telling them that we would stop paying the difference. But they have never wanted to meet us and all they have offered us is that we leave the apartment if we don’t like the price.”
After filing legal action against their landlord, the three tenants succeeded and the landlord was ordered to return €250 for each month that he overcharged his tenants.
The City Council also issued a fine of €9,000 euros to the owner of the property for ‘abusive rental practice’.