Representatives of fifteen European cities gathered last week at the six-monthly Eurocities WG Housing Meeting. On this occasion the session focussed on the situation of home rentals and the impact of Covid-19. Housing technicians from Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Lille, Dublin, Milan, Ljubljana, Ghent, Amsterdam, Brno, Florence, Bratislava, Vilnius, Berlin and Barcelona exchanged reflections on the problems detected, particularly linked to the difficulties in achieving cities with affordable rents. In this respect, the experts emphasised tenants’ increased difficulties in facing rent payments and the growth of waiting lists for social housing.
The meeting also placed special emphasis on the impact of Covid-19 in urban society. The participants discussed the impact of the pandemic in housing matters, the rent subsidies that were passed and their effects. In concrete terms, the Spanish case was cited as being one in which the greatest diversity of measures have been taken, and data were provided on the impact of the subsidies in Barcelona. According to data of the Barcelona Metropolitan Housing Observatory, only 26% of tenants accessed various mechanisms and aids for rental to adjust their contracts.
The case of Ljubljana was also cited, where only 5% of renters had requested a moratorium of rent payment. According to the representatives, people living in rented homes form one of the collectives most affected by the crisis. In this respect, the International Union of Tenants (IUT) highlighted the importance of extending the subsidies to protect tenants and regulate rent prices, a point which was emphasised by the Economic Studies Institute of Berlin (GIW-Berlin), which referred to the added complexity of applying regulations to home rentals at a moment when prices may fall as a consequence of the economic crisis.