Delinquency hangs over the neighboring communities as a result of inflation. The first non-payments have already been registered in some neighborhoods, according to property administrators, who believe that the problem is going to get worse in the coming months.
The escalation of energy but also the increase in other supplies and services is already causing difficulties. “It is a complicated situation for some communities. The increase in electricity has already caused liquidity problems, which have been corrected but with the latest increases they have reappeared”, explains Fabián Huguet, president of the Col·legi d’Administradors de Finques de Tarragona.
The representative of the union encrypts some rises in receipts at more than 40%, which “has generated unpaid electricity bills and situations in which we have to renegotiate payments, because the companies are tougher.” Community heating, for example, have seen rates skyrocket, causing a headache for building managers and tenants themselves. «An invoice of 130 euros that could be normal has risen to 220, so they are increases that must be solved with increases in some communities. Either you increase the fee or you reduce the services”, adds Huguet.
“What has affected the most is the rise in light,” acknowledges Ángel Bernal, administrator in Reus and member of the Col legi. Bernal says that “it is an increase that affects all the neighbors” and can hardly be reduced: “The elevator, for example, is something you use every day. All this is generating imbalances. If instead of paying 1,000 a year you have now spent 1,800, in the end you have to regularize the fee to each of the owners, and there is always someone who is fairer.
Renegotiate and extra fees
As already happened as a result of the Great Recession, what was first stopped paying is the community, before the costs of housing or rent. «The first thing that is stopped paying is always the community, before the electricity of the house. And that makes delinquencies increase. Every community is different. Many administrators work with real expense and then, if you go more fair, you have to readjust quotas. Then you renegotiate and an extra fee may appear, because with the money you initially planned you have not been able to cover, “says Bernal.
These are predictable scenarios, in a context in which the CPI has risen 10.5% in Tarragona in the last year, an absolute record. But the increases, according to INE records, of some products are even more bulky: the electricity bill has become 84.2% more expensive in the province and supplies such as water, gas or other fuels have shot up 38, 4%, all within a year. “A clear impact has been noticed and the budgets inevitably have to rise, because everything increases, from community insurance, to cleaning, elevator maintenance, electricity, the salaries of concierges or doormen,” explains Ana Bozalongo, administrator of estates in Tarragona, legal adviser and vice president of the Col·legi.
“You can’t stop an elevator”
The intense maelstrom of prices, inflamed even more in the last two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, does not let up. «We made a rise of 6.5% that has already been outdated. We have to adjust the quotas to balance the budgets. And what happens is that since they are very tight budgets, the moment someone fails you, you no longer cover, which ends up in negative, “explains Bozalongo.
The situation, of course, generates anger and discontent among residents, because they are costs that are very difficult to cut. “You cannot paralyze an elevator, or remove the cleaning service, or cancel a pool, all of that is unfeasible,” says Ana Bozalongo.
Rather the opposite happens. There is a need to undertake works and update maintenance, with tasks that have been postponed in these two years of pandemic. Rising prices may make those jobs difficult. “Works that have been suspended or postponed in this time are being done now,” says Bozalongo, who does not hide his concern: “We will see an increase in delinquency that has always existed but until now was contained. Everything becomes more expensive, fees go up and people’s salaries remain the same.
The Chamber of Urban Property of Tarragona notes an incipient trend of defaults, perhaps a prelude to possible more serious situations. These pending payments are verified at the community level but also in the housing rentals themselves. “It is not an alarming delinquency, at least for now, but inflation is tightening the rope, so that the disposable income of families is getting smaller and smaller. Electricity bills are becoming more and more important. All this repercussion in the shopping cart means that the income to face the rent and the community fees is reduced, ”says Héctor Ruana, manager of the Chamber.
A cap to mitigate the effects
The problems do not come so much from the fact that this CPI has a direct impact on the tenant’s contract, but from the entire upward spiral of prices. “It is not that there is an increase in the rents to be paid due to the CPI revision clauses that make it impossible to assume, but that it is a consequence of the current economic situation, especially in those cases in which there is a certain vulnerability. . There we already see difficulties to pay ».
All this happens despite the fact that the Government has put a 2% ceiling increase in rent, as a provisional measure until June. “That will mitigate the effects of inflation. It must be taken into account that many contracts have not yet been reviewed and last year the problem did not exist so much, “says Ruana.
The person in charge of the Tarragona entity is critical of these limitations: «The measure is in line with the policies of recent years, which injure the interests of the owners in an unbalanced way. The rental market should be freely regulated, because supply and demand determine prices. If you intervene in the market, you have an impact on price reductions and it is always against the owners. Ruana is committed “to housing policies such as investing in an important public park that would solve these problems”, instead of “the owners assuming the costs unilaterally, which is not fair”.
The Chamber of Urban Property points to an “increase in the budgets of the communities due to the incidence of energy”, which forces efforts to balance the accounts. “In some cases it forces us to be more efficient with other budget items,” explains Ruana, who points to the possibility that there may be damage to the neighborhood: “We have to renegotiate, for example, in matters such as cleaning or insurance and In the end, if you press hard, it can result in the issue of services, for example, when establishing a periodicity ».