Informative Note. Publication of Decree-Law 6/2024, of April 24, on urgent housing measures (new regulation on seasonal rentals in Catalonia)

Published: 23 de May de 2024

On April 25, 2024, Decree-Law 6/2024, of April 25, on urgent housing measures, was published. This regulation amends Law 18/2007, the Right to Housing in Catalonia, to regulate certain aspects of seasonal lease contracts and residential lease contracts.



1. Seasonal Lease Contract

The seasonal lease contract does not have specific positive regulation in our legal system to date, so the qualification of a contract within this type of lease is made through the exclusion of the legal regime applicable to regular residential leases (articles 6 to 28 of Law 29/1994, on urban leases) and to tourist-use housing (regulated, among others, by Decree 75/2020 and Decree Law 3/2023). That is, seasonal leases are those that do not meet the requirements to be regular housing or tourist-use housing, and therefore are outside the regulation of the LAU and tourism and are governed by the principle of freedom of will, the Civil Code, and the rest of the general applicable regulations to obligations and contracts.


Currently, the Fifth Additional Provision of State Law 12/2023, on the right to housing, provides for the creation of a working group to establish specific regulations for this type of accommodation contract, and therefore, it is foreseeable that in the relatively near future this situation of lack of express regulation within the rental legislation will change.


In any case, the Generalitat is anticipating and through the new Decree-Law tries to delimit the scope of seasonal contracts. This delimitation is carried out by adding a new article to Law 18/2007 on housing, 66bis, which determines that any rental contract for a dwelling must be subject to the regime of articles 6 to 28 of Law 29/1994 (and also to the other rent and eviction limitations that derive from the application of Law 12/2023 and the declaration of a stressed market area of the municipalities listed in Resolution TER/800/2024).


Thus, only those seasonal contracts that have a vacation or recreational purpose are excluded from the application of the legal regime of housing rental contracts. All those intended for other purposes that until now could be considered seasonal (e.g. for studies, temporary work relocations, medical assistance, or others where the temporary nature was noted) must necessarily be subject to the protective provisions derived from the legal regime applicable to the housing rental contract.


The same applies to room rental contracts or other fragmentations of a housing unit, which the Decree-Law also subjects, from now on, to the legal regime applicable to housing rental contracts if they are formalized to satisfy this need.


The fraudulent qualification of a lease contract violating this new configuration will now be considered a very serious offense in housing matters, subject to very high penalties (minimum 90,001 and maximum 900,000 euros).


As a Decree-Law, the new regulation comes into force immediately, but it should be noted that it will need to be confirmed or not in Parliament; otherwise, this validity would be lost and would have been merely temporary. In this regard, it is very likely that a challenge to the constitutionality of the Decree-Law will occur due to overreach of authority. There are already Constitutional Court rulings stating that the Generalitat would not have the competence to regulate the basic aspects of the lease contract.



2. Other Modifications Affecting the Residential Lease Contract

The Decree-Law 6/2024 also introduces other innovations that must be considered concerning residential lease contracts. Thus, when a dwelling is offered for lease and, if applicable, in the lease contract that is formalized, the following information must be obligatorily provided:


a) The price of the last rent of the dwelling, if it was rented in the last 5 years.

b) The price resulting from the application of the reference rent price index, if the dwelling is in a declared stressed residential market area. The tenant must also be provided with a justificatory document of the applicable index price to the dwelling.

c) Whether the owner is a large holder or not, it must be informed if the dwelling is in a declared stressed residential market area.


Failure to comply with these information obligations is typified as a minor offense, which can be subject to fines ranging from 3,000 to 9,000 euros.



3. Sanctioning Regime for Breach of Price Limits Applicable to Leases of Dwellings Located in Stressed Residential Market Areas

The sanctioning regime of Law 18/2007 is reformed to add as a new offense the breach of the price limits of housing lease contracts, according to the scale indicated below:


a) When the lease contract exceeds the maximum allowed price by more than 30%, the offense will be classified as very serious, and it will entail a fine ranging from 90,001 to 900,000 euros.

b) When the lease contract exceeds between 10% and not more than 30% of the maximum allowed price, the offense will be classified as serious and will entail a fine ranging from 9,001 to 90,000 euros.

c) When the lease contract does not exceed the maximum allowed price by more than 10%, the offense will be classified as minor and will entail a fine ranging from 3,000 to 9,000 euros.



4. Expansion of Legal Cases of Preemptive Rights and Their Regulation

The expansion of the legal cases of preemptive rights is articulated through an amendment to paragraph 2 of article 15 of Law 18/2007, which now establishes that the Generalitat may exercise the right of first refusal and retraction in all municipalities declared as stressed residential market areas, without the need for their delimitation in the general urban planning or in the Sectorial Territorial Housing Plan.


Thus, with the modification introduced by Decree-Law 6/2024, any dwelling transmitted by a large legal entity holder in a declared stressed residential market area (currently, the municipalities listed in Resolution TER/800/2024) will be subject to the exercise of preemptive rights.


The new Decree-Law 6/2024 establishes certain measures to facilitate the Generalitat’s exercise of this right, by establishing certain information obligations. Specifically, it will be necessary that, when the intention to transmit is communicated, the following information is included:


a) The title of the property, the conditions of the transmission, and the expected transmission formula.

b) The certificate of habitability.

c) The expected transmission price, the occupancy status, and a justified valuation of its conservation status.


It is foreseen, as criteria for prioritizing public acquisitions derived from the exercise of the right, that the housing is in good condition located in degraded neighborhoods and that has a price below the market value, as well as those homes acquired in the context of foreclosure processes, compensation or debt payment.



5. Other Modifications

The Decree-Law 6/2024 also agrees to amend Law 13/1996 to facilitate that INCASOL can have more financial resources from deposit bonds, to fulfill its purposes.



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