Laia Carbonell, project coordinator of the ‘Yes, we rent project’
After months of intensive work to reach and convince the owners, this is a very important moment for the project and for the city. It is the first flat for the project and we hope that it will serve as a trigger to convince many more owners.
The city of Mataró has its first owner to have signed the contract to bring his empty flat into the 'Yes, we rent!' housing scheme. Originally, further contracts with homeowners were expected to have been signed by now (September 2020), but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the communication campaign on the 'Yes, we rent!' housing scheme had to be stopped immediately after its start in January 2020. Direct contacts with citizens, and thus with owners, too, were not allowed. But through a municipal project website owners were continuously informed about the 'Yes, we rent!' housing scheme and encouraged to participate.
Antonio Martínez, who was the first person to sign the contract to bring in his empty flat to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, stated as reason:
"When I first heard about the project ‘Yes, we rent!’, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to renew my old and empty flat!"
By now 43 owners have contacted the city with the intention to bring in their flats to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme.
What happens, when an owner contacts the municipality
When an owner has demonstrated his/her interest to transfer his/her vacant flat to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, the chief architect, Oriol Pujol, from the department of housing together with his team arranges an on-site visit to present the ‘Yes, we rent housing!’ scheme in person and to assess the renovation needs of the flat. Based on the on-site visit the municipality sends a proposal to the owner about the compulsory and recommended renovation works to be done, the subsidies and other benefits the owner will receive and the duration of the assignment of the flat to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme including the maximum monthly rent. If the owner agrees on the proposal a contract is signed by both parties.
Antonio Martínez has successfully completed this process and has undertaken the renovation works indicated by 'Yes, we rent! housing standards by himself, partly subsidized by the project. Probably around November the flat will be available for rent under the 'Yes, we rent!' housing scheme.
As the housing cooperative, that will be responsible for the 'Yes, we rent!' housing scheme in the future, is not legally set up yet, the city council of Mataró will rent out the flat via the bourse of applicants for public housing BORSA.
Why are owners bringing in their empty flats to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme
Why are owners bringing in their empty flats to the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, when the rent they receive is below the average market price?
The reason is that the city council (and in the future the housing cooperative) offers certain benefits to them. When a flat is part of the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, the municipality provides financial and organisational support to owners for the (energy-oriented) renovation of the flat. In addition they guarantee the rent during the rental period in case the tenant is not paying the rent. For this, the municipality has set up a rental guarantee fund. Other incentives, which are offered to the owners, are tax reliefs and the free of charge management of the flat.
Antonio Martínez, first owner who brought his empty flat into the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, stated as reason:
The project is great because with the subsidy I have been able to renovate the flat. Moreover, they [the City Council] manages the whole process of allocating the tenant and secure the payment.
Lesson learnt so far
The main lesson learnt so far attracting owners for the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme – as Oriol Pujol, the chief architect from the department of housing puts it – is to respond and make an appointment within 3 days after an owner has made a first contact stating his/her interest in the ‘Yes, we rent’! housing scheme. This demonstrates the seriousness and professionalism in the team and thus provides confidence within the owner. Also the personal meeting at the apartment – and not in the town hall – to explain the project in a more personalized way is another important aspect to provide confidence within the owner in the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the project to some extent, the city of Mataró hopes that by the end of the 'Yes, we rent!' project in 2022 they will have reactivated 220 private empty flats for the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme, from which 150 flats will be renovated to today’s housing standard and made available to the housing cooperative in charge of providing affordable housing for people in need of affordable housing on the rental market.
In this respect, the city will resume in November its communication campaign to attract further owners to become part of the ‘Yes, we rent!’ housing scheme.
Et desitjo èxit!