The Tenure Imbalance in Spain: The Need for Social Housing Policy

The Tenure Imbalance in Spain: The Need for Social Housing Policy
Montserrat Pareja Eastaway and Ignacio San Mart´õn Varo
[Paper received in Ž nal form, July 2001]
Summary. Spain is usualy chosen as an example of an unbalanced picture among tenures. The owner-occupied sector has been growing since the 1950s while the rental sector has become smaler. Surprisingly, other European countries are at present folowing the same pattern, but mostly we also see an important function for social housing. Taking into account that public housing, built by public developers, is almost negligible and that government housing policy programmes basicaly stimulate ownership, the ‘social housing’ concept lacks an adequate deŽ nition in Spanish housing policy. In this sense, the encouragement of the rental sector through public policy should provide an alternative for low-income families. Despite different cultural housing backgrounds, the emergence of a reliable rental sector in Spain appears to be the most promising strategy for solving current housing problems. The aim of the paper is twofold. On the one hand, it analyses the evolution of the rental sector through recent decades, stressing how different central government regulations have affected the tenure structure in Spain. On the other, it considers the rental sector as a potential instrument for authorities to meet the housing needs of low-income families. Housing policy stil plays a crucial role in offering the opportunity for certain groups to access a suitable house. What can be caled the ‘European shift’ to the market can cause irreparable damage to those families that have beneŽ ted from former, direct or indirect, public means.

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