A new United Nations report has criticized the housing policy in Spain, and highlighted the fact that local councils have been dependent on granting of building licences and other real estate deals for their income.
The report warns that the high number of empty properties in Spain means that it will suffer the slowdown the most in Europe. The UN report says that 26% of the income for local town halls comes from construction and this has promoted the speculation seen in the sector over recent years, according to the UN compiler of the report, Miloon Kothari. The study looked at the sale of municipal land and the collection of the IBI rates and other taxes, such as granting permission to build. The cases of Marbella and Mallorca are both highlighted in the new report. Kothari claims that "uncontrolled speculation has taken place for the past twenty years" and this, with the large number of empty properties, meant that Spain is bottom of the European list for access to housing. Those most to suffer as a consequence from this are named in the report as "women, youngsters, pensioners, the disabled, gypsies, immigrants and the homeless". The report says that in Spain there are 20.9 million homes for 14.1 million families. Once second homes are discounted, there are over three million empty flats, about 15% of the total. The report supports the policy in Cataluña where in extreme cases homes can be expropriated. The United Nations warns that the current situation is not sustainable in the long term and says the Spanish government's housing policies have not managed to slow down the increase in home prices, although the new measures designed to stimulate rental were hoped to contain prices. They say what is needed is a firm agreement between developers, builders, public administration and society at large, so that the right to proper housing can become a reality.