The municipality of La Orotava is the sixth most populated on the Island (more than 42,000 inhabitants) but it hardly offers options to rent a home. On the main real estate portals, the offer is reduced to a dozen options, the vast majority (seven) above a thousand euros. At this time, the cheapest lease is 800 euros, although the apartment is located far from the historic center. The other possibilities range from 900 euros per month for a townhouse in La Perdoma to 2,500 euros per month for a chalet in El Durazno. For a family with few resources or even middle class, finding a rental in the Valley’s conventional market is impossible.
This lack, never seen until a few years ago, is added to the fact that in many parts of La Orotava, households allocate at least 30% of their income to rent and basic supplies, such as water and electricity. For this reason, the Orotavense City Council has started the process for the municipality to become the first of Canary Islands to be declared a stressed residential area. This declaration is one of the tools of the Housing Law, which came into force on May 26, and which allows intervention in the lease in search of a balance between income and the rental price.
Idea of Assembly for La Orotava
The idea comes from the Assembly for La Orotava, a municipalist formation that has been represented in the Orotava City Council since 2015. Both the Canarian Coalition government group and the other opposition groups, PSOE and PP, supported the Assembly for La Orotava motion. The Orotava. According to the spokesperson for this group, Aída Salazar, “in La Orotava it is practically impossible to find decent housing at an affordable price.” «The prices are prohibitive in the few homes that are on the market compared to average salaries. And added to this is the impossibility of accessing public housing or a mortgage,” she details.
Added to the problem of the lack of alternatives and exorbitant prices is the large number of empty houses. According to data provided by Assembly, of the 17,000 homes in La Orotava, 1,700 are unoccupied. One in 10. Of these houses that only serve to collect dust, the vast majority are in the hands of banks and vulture funds that “they don’t want to put them on the market.” The political party adds: «A quick look at the digital housing rental portals shows that in La Orotava there are hardly any rental options, of which the majority are chalets that exceed 1,500 euros per month. The rest, some apartments with a rent of more than 800 euros.
The requirements of the Law
An entire municipality or some specific areas can be declared stressed areas when the cost of the mortgage or rent, added to the expenses of basic services, exceed 30% of the average household income. Also those areas in which rent has increased by 5% over the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the last five years. Most of La Orotava meets these requirements. It is by no means an exception on the Island. According to a study by the consulting firm Atlas Real Estate Analytics (Fragua), which has analyzed data from more than 11,000 postal codes in Spain, part or all of 25 of the 31 municipalities of Tenerife All but Garachico, La Guancha, San Juan de la Rambla, El Sauzal and Tegueste can be declared stressed residential areas at this time.
“The shortage of available housing supply is alarming,” emphasizes Aída Salazar. Already in January 2023, the Assembly for La Orotava presented a motion for the acquisition of empty homes by the City Council to put them under a social rental regime. The idea has not been carried out. Regarding the plans of the Department of Public Works of the Government of the Canary Islands, framed in the Canary Islands Housing Plan 2020-2025, to build a new development of 65 officially protected properties in the San Antonio neighborhood for a total amount of 7.4 million euros, the Assembly is reluctant. According to the spokesperson, “this is going to lead to an even greater ghettoization of the San Antonio neighborhood.” If there are empty homes in La Orotava, work should be done to recover them and put them on the market,” she emphasizes.
Maria Belen Gonzalez He knows very well the difficulties that many Orotava families go through. She is the Delegate Councilor for Social Welfare of the northern Consistory, in addition to leading the Housing area. «We know perfectly well the serious problems that people from Orotava face in getting a house. For this reason, the government group supported the motion to declare the municipality a stressed residential area. There is hardly any rental offer, what exists is through the roof and I no longer tell you how the mortgages are,” she says, adding: “The town councils are the administration that has the most contact straight with social problems. And this is a very serious one. The problem is that we lack sufficient resources. That is why we work with the Government of the Canary Islands and the Council “in search of solutions, which include, for example, the acquisition of empty homes to use them for social rental.”
The councilor calls the increase in rental prices “disproportionate.” “The supply has been drastically reduced and what little there is has skyrocketed prices,” she summarizes. María Belén González provides two pieces of information to explain the “great effort” that the La Orotava City Council makes to address the demands of the citizens taking into account the limited resources available: “In 2022 we will allocate 330,000 euros to rental aid and this year we are already going for 280,000 euros.”
A plan to control the price
According to the motion approved by the City Council, the declaration of La Orotava as a stressed residential market area will entail the drafting of a plan that will propose the necessary measures to correct the imbalances between the average income of the local population and the price of rentals. .