Residential communities will be able to veto delinquent owners from entering the pool | Economy

An adult and a child in a community pool in Majadahonda (Madrid), in June 2020.
An adult and a child in a community pool in Majadahonda (Madrid), in June 2020.FERNANDO ALVARADO (EFE)

It seemed like a mere parliamentary procedure, supported by a broad and unusual political consensus as far as housing is concerned, but it promises more than one strong emotion in the neighborhood communities. The law to promote rehabilitation, definitively approved this Wednesday by the Senate, seeks to strengthen the financial situation of the communities so that they are encouraged to improve the building and for this it reinforces the fight against those who do not pay the fees. The text, which is part of the decree-law approved on October 5 by the Government (later validated by Congress, with the condition of processing it as a bill in order to introduce amendments) indicates that “the owners’ meeting may agree on dissuasive measures against delinquency. And it specifies that said measures may consist of “temporary deprivation of the use of services or facilities”. In other words, those who are not up to date may be banned from entering, for example, the pool or other community facilities.

The rule, however, also places limits on what can be approved at the ladder meeting and “included in the statutes.” It specifies, for example, that the “dissuasive measures will be limited to the time in which the delinquency situation persists and “cannot be retroactive in any case”. And it also limits those that “may be considered abusive or disproportionate or that affect the habitability of buildings.”

Farm administrators, according to the sources consulted, interpret this to mean that “an essential supply can never be cut off.” A priori, they see no problem in preventing entry to a swimming pool or a paddle tennis court, but they add that it will be necessary to see how the regulatory change materializes on a day-to-day basis. “There are those who question what fault the children of the defaulter would have if they could not go down to the pool with their friends,” exemplify the sources consulted. But they add that “in any case, the intention of the law, logically, is to pressure to avoid late payment and facilitate collection.”

In addition to providing legal coverage so that communities can try new ways of putting pressure on defaulters, the changes that have been introduced during the parliamentary process also reinforce the legal option. Specifically, the text speaks of a “special payment process” so that the community can make a legal claim against the neighbor who does not pay. In this procedure, a “preventive seizure” of the defaulter’s assets may be requested.

One of the objectives of the norm, they point out in the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, is precisely to reinforce the legal capacity of the communities of owners so that they can more easily access credits and undertake energy rehabilitation or accessibility works. The final approval by the Senate is the starting signal for a new line of the Official Credit Institute (ICO) with a maximum value of 1,100 million and backed by public resources. The funds come from the recovery plans that the European Union granted to Spain during the pandemic, and that contemplate an investment of 3,420 million for these items until 2026.

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The new law enshrines the system that basically launched the decree of last October, with deductions between 20% and 60% depending on the type of works carried out and the energy savings achieved. The program also contemplates individual reforms in a single dwelling, but in general the juiciest aid (which in some cases of special vulnerability can cover 100% of the amount) is reserved for collective actions. This implies in most cases a disbursement by the communities of owners, but in the process of concretizing the measures it was observed that many had problems, for example, getting the banks to give them a loan. To avoid these obstacles, a series of changes have been approved during the parliamentary process, which include, for example, the possibility that from now on financial entities can claim directly from the community in the event of non-payment of the credit (until now they had to go individually to the owners, which was another setback).

The Senate has given its approval to the rule, which means its final approval by the Cortes Generales, with broad support. In the vote there were 236 Yes it isagainst five abstentions (Junts per Catalunya) and 16 votes against (14 from ERC and two from socialist senators. In the same session and with a similar consensus (231 votes in favor and 25 abstentions from nationalist groups) the new Law also went ahead of Quality of Architecture, which seeks to reinforce the protection of built heritage.This is one of the reforms that were promised to Brussels in exchange for recovery funds and the Council of Ministers gave the green light to the draft last October, at the same time than that of the housing law, but unlike its twin norm, which is still in the amendment phase in Congress, the course of the Architecture Quality Law and its parliamentary negotiation have been much more placid.

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