Monday, May 16

So that we can all rehabilitate our house

On October 5, the regulatory framework that will govern the aid programs for the rehabilitation of homes with the Next Generation European funds for recovery was published. It is surely the most ambitious rehabilitation promotion plan to date, launching a wave of rehabilitations that we hope will reach everyone.

There are many positive aspects to highlight, such as 100% financing for households in a vulnerable situation or the fact that the aid is not counted in the income tax base —which could often lead to a family that received a subsidy for rehabilitation could not receive other economic aid—. However, there are situations that this regulatory package allows that should be inadmissible: today, an owner could rehabilitate a home that he has for rent with up to 80% of the investment covered with public money and, in the next renewal of the contract your tenant, raise the price above your means. It makes no sense that eviction processes for rehabilitation or gentrification can be launched with public money. In turn, the current draft of the Law for the Right to Housing does not prevent this situation either, since the rehabilitation of housing is one of the causes that can allow an owner to raise the price of rent, even in areas where that the rental cost is well above their average income (stressed residential market).

In December, the European Commission published the preliminary document for the update of the European Directive on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EPBD), which will mark the roadmap for improving energy efficiency and decarbonising our buildings. It already states that, by offering economic incentives to promote the rehabilitation of buildings, the Member States must ensure that these benefit both the owners and those who rent, through rental aid or price limits. Turning a deaf ear to requirements like this could lead us to a wave of renovations that does not solve structural problems such as energy poverty, losing an opportunity that will take a long time to see again.

The current version of the EPBD also introduces the minimum energy efficiency standards for buildings. Over the next few years, our homes will be required to have higher and higher energy certifications. For now, it is only required that by 2030 all homes have an F energy rating and an E by 2033, which would affect approximately 27% of existing buildings. Even so, it is foreseeable that the ambition of these requirements will increase as the years go by; that is to say, almost all of us are going to have to rehabilitate our home sooner or later.

This progressive rehabilitation of our entire building stock cannot lead the vulnerable population to a chain of evictions, nor force them to live in obsolete housing. We all have the right to decent housing.