The 18th December 2018 Royal Decree-Law 21/2018, of 14 December, of urgent measures in housing and leasing (Real Decreto-ley 21/2018, de 14 de diciembre, de medidas urgentes en materia de vivienda y alquiler), was published on the Official State Gazette (Boletin Oficial del Estado).
Such measures, which affect different areas like the regulation of the lease, the horizontal property regime, the tourist use of housing, the procedure of eviction of housing in vulnerable families, as well as the tax field of housing leases, came into force as of December 19th.
Therefore, those housing leases celebrated as of December 19th, 2018, must comply with the new measures approved by the Government.
The main new features are those systematized hereafter:
1. AMENDMENTS TO THE URBAN LEASES ACT (Ley 29/1994, de 24 de noviembre de Arrendamientos Urbanos)
i) The so-called tourist apartments (that is, those whose temporary assignment is made lucrative by any means of promotion or commercialization) are expressly excluded from the Urban Leasing Law. These contracts will be subject to the sectorial tourist regulations.
ii) The period of mandatory extension of lease contracts is extended, from three (3) to five (5) years if the lessor is a natural person, or seven (7) years if the lessor is a legal entity.
iii) In absence of termination of the agreement by either party, the term of extension of the agreement is extended from one (1) to three (3) years.
iv) In lease contracts of reduced rent has been stablished a limit for the increase of the rent.
v) The costs of property management and formalization of the lease agreement shall always be borne by the lessor, provided that the latter is a legal entity (except for those services contracted at the direct initiative of the tenant).
vi) The housing regulation may establish the right of pre-emption and retraction, with respect to the whole property, in favor of the body designated by the competent authority in the matter of housing, in which case, prior notification of the sale of the building is necessary.
- Legal deposit will not be subject to updating during the first 5 years if the lessor is a natural person, or 7 if the lessor is a legal entity.
- The additional guarantees cannot exceed two month of rent (if the contract is agreed for 5 years, or 7 if the lessor is a legal entity). For long term agreements, as nothing is indicated against, it is possible to agree in additional guarantees.
2. AMENDMENTS TO THE HORIZONTAL PROPERTY ACT (Ley 49/1960, de 21 de julio, sobre Propiedad Horizontal)
i) A favorable vote of 3/5 of the parties will be required to limit or condition the exercise of tourist activities (whether or not it implies a modification of the constitutive title or the statutes). The same majority will be required for the agreement of special expense quotas or increase participation in common expenses of the home where said activity is carried out, with a limit of 20%. These agreements will not have retroactive effects.
3. AMENDMENTS TO THE SPANISH CIVIL PROCEDURE ACT (Ley 1/2000, de 7 de enero, de Enjuiciamiento Civil)
i) In eviction proceedings, the Court must inform the defendant of the possibility of authorizing the transfer of their data, in order to assess the possible situation of vulnerability by social services.
So, in the event that the eviction affects vulnerable families, the eviction procedure will be suspended for a maximum period of one month (two month when the claimant is a legal entity), since the receipt of the communication by the Social Services to the judicial body.
4. AMENDMENTS TO THE LOCAL TREASURIES ACT (Real Decreto Ley 2/2004, de 5 de marzo, Reguladora de las Haciendas Locales)
i) Sanction for unoccupied properties: Town Councils may determine by Tax Ordinance a single or several penalty fees (up to 50% of the net tax rate), depending on the duration of the period of the unoccupied property.
The definition of «unoccupied property» will be determined in the corresponding sectorial regulations.
ii) Town Councils may establish trough a Tax Ordinance a bonus of up to 95% on the full tax rate for real estate for residential use intended for renting a home with limited income by a legal rule.
5. AMENDMENTS TO THE TRANSFER TAX AND STAMP DUTY ACT (Real decreto ley 1/1993 de 24 de septiembre, sobre Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales)
i) An exemption is established in transfer tax for stable and permanent housing leases.
 Contracts prior to said date will continue to be governed by the regime that was applicable to them.
 For contract of “reduced rent” will be understood as the ones below the established one, for the whole State, and with a general character, in the Royal Decree that regulates the State housing plan in force with the purposes of having enabled the possibility of adhering to a rental assistance program.
 Common system not applicable to the Autonomous Communities that have regulated their own horizontal property regime (e.g. Catalonia).