Thursday, July 7

Thirty ‘guiris’ protest against tourist apartments in front of a real estate agency in Barcelona

Some thirty people dressed in Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, hats, flip-flops and beach dresses, in addition to balls, umbrellas and mats, appeared this Tuesday in front of the SH Barcelona real estate company to denounce that this company is denying the possibility of renewing the rental contracts of the residents of Casa Orsola, a block that for a few months has belonged to the Lioness Inversiones fund.

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The idea of ​​dressing up as tourists came from the residents of the property, who are convinced that they have not been allowed to renovate in order to establish tourist flats or seasonal rentals and thus increase the price of rents.

Six of the flats in this building received a burofax a few months ago in which the real estate agency communicated that they had to leave the residence as soon as the contract ended. Of these, there are already three whose term has expired, but they have decided not to leave and go to the Tenants’ Union and the XHEE (Xarxa d’Habitatge de l’Esquerra de l’Eixample).

One of those affected is Josep Torrent, who has been living on the farm since 2003, that is, 19 years. “On May 1, my contract ended and there has been no way to renew it,” he explains in statements to Since then, he has tried to negotiate with the real estate company, but he assures that the only response he has received is: “Sorry, but the market is like that”.

In a similar situation are Elisenda Baños and her family, who have been living in Casa Orsola for some 32 years. “We paid 600 euros and we know that now they want to ask for 2,000 for this same flat,” says Baños, who is convinced that the only explanation is that they want to “introduce temporary rentals.”

In his case, Baños has a residential exclusion report and assures that it has already been sent to Lioness Inveriones so that it can offer him a social rental in accordance with Law 1/2022, which determines that a contract must be renewed if the tenant is in a situation of residential exclusion. Both Baños and Torrent have tried to continue paying their rent, but the property has rejected it, so they have decided to put the matter in the hands of justice.

The protest by the residents of Casa Orsola has begun inside the offices of the SH Barcelona real estate company, but given the discomfort of its workers and, seeing that the intention was to close the door with them inside, the protesters have opted to continue the mobilization in the street. To get the attention of neighbors and people passing by they have played music and played with beach balls for about an hour.

This action in the real estate is not the first of the residents of Casa Orsola, who began to organize and refuse to leave their homes as soon as the burofax arrived. Since then, they have held assemblies and joint activities so that friendships have begun to emerge between them.

Likewise, they assure that the property has tried to reach individual agreements with some, but they have refused. “Either all or none,” exclaimed one of the spokesmen for the Tenants’ Union on Tuesday, who also stressed that this block has the support of fifty entities in the neighborhood.

On the other hand, from the Tenants Union they affirm that the new company that owns the block has been asking the neighbors for weeks to remove the protest banners that some have hung on their windows and balconies. But also that Lioness Inversiones has begun to carry out works in the houses that are already empty, although it has not put up any informative signs in the common areas of the building.

They also point out that partitions and walls have been knocked down despite the fact that they have not asked for permission from the neighbors who, according to the law, must be informed in order to carry out works that modify the structure of the houses.

Those affected have denounced these irregular reforms to the City Council, which has already carried out an inspection of the property. “We hope they will be sanctioned,” declare the spokesmen for the Tenants’ Union, who also claim to be pressuring the Government to include a measure in the new housing law that is being processed to prosecute those landlords who establish temporary rentals (of 31 days to 11 months) fraudulently, since a specific license is needed for tourist rentals.