Barcelona Rental Market Is Out of Control

Rents up 50% since 2013, wages go nowhere, a third of residents earn less than €1,000/month.

For the first time in over a decade, I spent a few days last week flat hunting. It was not for my own benefit but rather to provide moral support to a close friend of mine who’s looking to rent a place in the same central Barcelona neighborhood where my wife and I live, Fort Pienc. The experience was a depressing one for the both of us. Not only is my friend almost certainly priced out of this highly gentrified neck of the woods, but my wife and I could also find ourselves in the same predicament the next time our contract is up, in three-and-a-half years’ time.

When we moved to this once staunchly middle class neighborhood way back in 2006, just before the collapse of Spain’s crazy housing bubble unleashed a surge in demand for rental properties, you could rent a decent three-bedroom apartment (with one of the bedrooms so tiny it’s barely large enough for a bed) for between €800 and €900 a month. Today’s prices are almost double that and Barcelona’s rental market is now so skewed in the seller’s favor that flat hunting has become a deeply demoralizing, if not humiliating, experience for all but the richest renters.

Despite a moderate slowdown in prices resulting from the recent political uncertainty in Catalonia, rents in Barcelona have still risen by around 50% since 2013, with the result that more and more local people are getting priced out of the market. But it’s not just the price of rents that are prohibitive; so, too, are the upfront fees and deposits tenants have to pay

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