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Housing Glossary

You will find information here on all topics relating to housing in Barcelona


Accrued interest

The interest applied as a penalisation when the debtor does not comply with repayment obligations. The amount must be established in the contract.

Active supermortgage

This allows the client to choose their loan's benchmark index (MIBOR at three months, six months or a year) so that payment can benefit from lower interest rates sooner.

Adaptable instalment

Characteristic of UCI superloans that allow the borrower to not pay one instalment a year for the first three years if there are problems due to holidays, extraordinary expenses, etc.

Advanced cancellation fee

A commission arising from the financial risk involved in the advanced cancellation of an operation. The applied commission compensates the financial institution for its financial losses.


Direct state aid for paying the deposit on a property.

Affordable housing

Group of social housing or dwellings from social renovation projects that are sold or rented at below-market prices.

Affordable rent

The cost of renting these dwellings is below market prices after being included in operations concerning the rented flat pool, social renovation or social housing promotions.


Payment made to repay a loan.

Amortisation period

The duration of the loan. The contract establishes the date of the first and last payments. The longer the period, the lower the payments are, but the higher the interest. You therefore pay more in the end. The monthly instalment should not exceed 35% of your net income.


Estate agent. A qualified professional who acts as an intermediary between the two interested parties to facilitate the signing of a real estate contract, which can be a rental agreement, a sales agreement or another similar contract. They usually charge a percentage of the sales price as compensation or commission.


A citizen who makes a registration application to the Barcelona Social Housing Applicants Registry, and who represents the other members of the dwelling unit included in the application.


Annual Equivalent Rate. Effective annual cost of the mortgage in terms of interest, commissions and the repayment period. To compare loans, it is not enough to just look at the lowest APR, you also have to compare the conditions, the repayment period and the distribution of instalment payments.

Arbitri municipal de plusvàlua

Former denomination of the capital gains tax on landed property.


The value of a dwelling certified by a specialised assessment company, in accordance with the mortgage market law. This certificate not only indicates the real value of the property, it also serves as a reference for obtaining the necessary financing.


Document in which the owner authorises the tenant to carry out building work in the dwelling's interior.

Close glossary

Housing offices only offer face-to-face assistance by prior appointment, so check out the “Housing calls you” service here to receive the most appropriate personalised assistance. If you also need assistance in energy rights, book an appointment with an energy-advice point (PAE) by clicking here. On the other hand, if you reside in an IMHAB public dwelling you can consult our contact, management and processing channels here.​

Lucia Martín urges us not to repeat the errors of 2008 in the management of the housing crisis after Covid-19

23/05/2020 - 17:28

Habitatge. Housing directors of Barcelona, London, Montreal and Paris opt for regulating rents and increasing the public stock

Housing directors of the city councils of Barcelona, Paris, Montreal and London joined together to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on housing in an open-access online meeting organised within the framework of the practical housing meetings of the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights of the worldwide organisation United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The meeting had the participation of the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation of the Barcelona City Council, Lucia Martín; the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development of the London City Council, Tom Copley; the Deputy Mayor for Housing of Paris, Ian Brossat; the Councillor for Housing of the Montreal City Council, Robert Beaudry; and the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha. Other participants were the UCLG’s General Secretary, Emilia Sáiz, and the Co-President of the UCLG’s Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights, Patrick Braouezec.

The Covid-19 sanitary crisis and the call by all the world’s governments for people to stay at home have placed housing in the centre of the debate. We have had to ask ourselves what happens to anyone who has no home to confine themselves in or does not have adequate accommodation, as was pointed out by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, in her introduction to the debate. But Farha expressed a call to look further ahead and take the opportunity to place housing in the centre of the debate, to treat it as a right and not a commodity, and to ensure that the most vulnerable social groups do not become the prime losers of this pandemic.

Tackling the emergency
The first thing cities have had to do has been to react to an emergency situation, and in this respect they have all encountered very similar problems: searching for places to accommodate homeless people so that they can comply with confinement, and managing non-payments of rent by the most vulnerable people.

In this respect, the solutions have also been similar, although adapted to the situation of each city. All the cities have sought accommodation for homeless people in hotels and other amenities which have become empty and unused during the pandemic. Even so, this has not been easy, because the crisis has put the existing structures under tension. “With this crisis we’ve realised that we didn’t have the resilience we thought we had. That isn’t important when things are going well, but we become aware of it in moments of crisis”, says the Councillor for Housing of the Montreal City Council, Robert Beaudry: a key fact in Montreal, where the gentrification that has arrived on the rebound from Canada’s other metropolises has led to speculation, the spread of short-term rents and increased numbers of homeless people.

The other large problem that has had to be tackled has been the non-payment of rents. Many families have seen their incomes reduced and have not been able to assume rents which, moreover, are well above the financial possibilities of the population of cities like Barcelona, as was stated by the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation of the Barcelona City Council, Lucia Martín. Leilani Fahra had already said in her introduction that one or two months of economic instability ought not to be such a serious problem if rents depended on family incomes and not on market forces.

The City Councils coincided on an initial emergency measure to tackle the situation: to put a temporary stop to eviction procedures. In some cities, other measures have been put in place to provide economic help for these families. In this respect, Martín pointed out the response of the Spanish Government, which “has been the reverse of that of the 2008 crisis,” promoting extensions of rent contracts and moratoria in mortgages or rents of homes owned by large landlords. The Barcelona City Council has also promoted a moratorium in rent instalments of the public housing stock and a reduction for those who need it, along with a package of measures of 2.5 million euros. However, she pointed out that many of these measures sideline a very vulnerable part of the population who live in sublet accommodation or work without contracts and cannot have access to these assistances.

Housing post covid-19: we must not repeat the errors of 2008
Fahra said in her introduction, and all the participants agreed, that the problems caused by the pandemic are not new: what has happened is an aggravation of problems that have been dragging on for years. Consequently, once the emergency has been resolved, we have to look farther ahead. We must also not forget where these problems come from, in order not to repeat errors of the past. “We are fully aware of 2008 and we don’t want to go back there”, Martín said.

As we have said, all the cities have established moratoria or have halted evictions, but all the families concerned will have to continue paying their rent or face debts when the pandemic is over. To deal with this problem, all the municipal representatives spoke of the need to regulate rent prices in some way. The Deputy Mayor for Housing of Paris, Ian Brossat, talked about how important this is also for the model of city. “Healthcare personnel, public workers and, in brief, all those who have helped to tackle the crisis and keep our cities operative can no longer afford to live there”, Brossat said, adding that Paris already has a maximum rent regulation, but he called for collaboration by governments to make it effective. The Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development of the London City Council, Tom Copley, coincided on this last point, saying that his City Council is calling for this intervention on rent prices but does not have competences to implement it.

The other major instrument that was discussed is protected housing. In this respect, the situation of each city is different. Montreal has initiatives for constructing a percentage of affordable housing in its new constructions, and Paris has a good public stock. Copley, in contrast, explained that in London, where in the past there was a good public rental stock, market forces have been gaining ground. Martín denounced the fact that Barcelona’s public stock is practically non-existent, around 1%, as a result of policies that have led to public housing losing qualification and returning to private ownership. The strategies vary according to the reality of each city, but all of them see clearly that an increase of the public stock is a commitment that must be made.

Finally the discussion turned to two very specific problems related with Covid-19. On the one hand, the recovery of tourist apartments for the rental market: in this respect, Martín emphasised that we have to be very watchful, since in Barcelona it has been detected that some owners of tourist accommodations are offering fraudulent seasonal contracts. And on the other hand, the recovery of offices that will fall empty if there is an expansion of teleworking: in this respect, Copley warned that we must make sure that they do not become poor-quality homes.

In summary, the meeting has served to confirm the role of the municipal administrations in the management of our inhabitants’ most immediate problems, such as housing, since they are the people most closely affected by the problem and they cannot ignore it. The meeting also confirmed the potentiality of housing in deciding how we want to live after the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the need to have the collaboration of governments, private actors and other organisations to solve a problem that affects us all.