Twenty-two square meters for individual use and twelve of common areas will be considered appropriate living conditions. This will be regulated by the Catalan Government, which will create a new housing typology that will allow to reduce the minimum surface area that a flat must have to be considered a legal living space. This is a reduction from the 24 square metres that currently mark the minimum. Thus, whilst there are now small flats, there will soon be mini-flats, which will compensate for their reduced dimensions with shared areas of at least 12 square metres. In this way it will be possible to rent a property of these characteristics with all the services and supplies included as long as there are common areas that compensate for the lack of space to be legally considered a living space. With this reform, the Government believes we will soon see many affordable mini-flats in a large space with shared areas.
The Department of Territory and Sustainability, the driving force behind the reform, has called the new type of flat "accommodation with complementary common spaces". In fact, the head of the Department, Damià Calvet, has defined the mini-flats as "homes in which the private space is less than the minimum established by law", but where the addition of community spaces will take the total surface beyond the minimum requirement.
And who is expected to live in them? Calvet pointed out that the mini-flats will be an opportunity for "young people who want to move out from their parents house or those who have workplaces that require a lot of mobility". The fact that the legal requirements will be reduced means that the price of rent will go down, and therefore Calvet sees mini-flats as an affordable option for people who cannot afford a flat. When sharing a flat, each room only has a bed and you cook in the kitchen and have to go through a corridor to the toilet; the new mini flats will have everything in the flat itself. The Department believes the 22-square meter flats will have all the essentials to live in and, in the common areas, spaces to wash clothes, sofas or even a coworking area.
The Government has protected the new type of housing in a decree-law that was approved this morning in a cabinet meeting, although it has yet to be ratified by Parliament. The decree also regulates a set of necessary conditions in private and shared spaces, such as lighting, square meters or supplies.
Increasing the stock of social housing
The Government's decree law also incorporates a measure that seeks to increase the availability of public housing stock. Calvet has announced that the maximum sale and rental prices, whether private or public, will be updated, thus establishing limits that may not be exceeded in the new rental or sale contracts for social housing. The update of the maximum prices will be done annually following the CPI. According to the Government, this initiative will increase the supply of affordable apartments, prevent abusive prices in the renewal of contracts and from now on only adjust in accordance with the CPI.
Calvet has insisted on the fact that both the new housing typology and the reform in the social housing market are part of a three-pronged strategy of the executive in terms of housing: increasing the supply of affordable housing -which the government is trying to address by updating the prices of social housing apartments-, facilitating access to rental housing -creating more accessible mini-flats- and containing prices in rental contracts -a factor that the rent regulation law has already tried to influence.