Spain’s State of Alarm: Extension of Social and Economic Measures

6 May 2021 - Sonia Gumpert Melgosa

The definitive end of the state of alarm is approaching. This state of alarm provides legal protection for the measures limiting and restricting rights in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as well as for the measures regarding social and economic order adopted to mitigate the situation of vulnerability generated by the pandemic and the state of alarm. With this in mind, the Spanish Government has extended, by virtue of Royal Decree-Law 8/2021,[1] inter alia, certain economic and social measures to promote an economic and social recovery predicted to progress depending the advance of vaccination and the recuperation of trust in different economic sectors.

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In Chapter II, the regulations decide to extend the suspension until 31 December 2021 of the obligations affecting communities of owners with so-called “horizontal property” regimes to call and hold meetings of owners, as well as to approve plans for income and expenses, annual accounts and budgets. It decrees the opi legis extension of the last annual budgets and the last appointments to the governing bodies. Furthermore, it fills a legal gap,[2] introducing the possibility of holding meetings by video or telephone conference under the organisation and responsibility of the administrator and the secretary. Such gap is obvious, considering our Law on Horizontal Property is from 1960; it thus requires, despite certain partial amendments, a thorough and urgent review.

Chapter III regulates different measures that affect housing. One example is that the measures for guarantees for the vulnerable consumer regarding the supply of water, electricity and natural gas and receipt of the so-called “bono social” are extended for an additional three months, that is, until 9 August 2021. Also extended until that same date, in matters of housing rentals, is the suspension of eviction proceedings and the eviction of tenants in vulnerable situations. It also extends the possibility to request a grace period or total or partial cancellation of the rent when the lessor is a public entity or large property owner (gran tenedor[3]), and to apply an extraordinary extension to the rental term for an additional period not exceeding six months to those agreements that would otherwise end between 9 May and 9 August 2021, unless another agreement has already been reached between the parties.

[1] Royal Decree-Law 8/2021, of 4 May, which adopts urgent measures on public health, social and jurisdictional matters, to be applied following the end of the state of alarm, Official State Gazette (BOE) of 5 May 2021.

[2] Law 49/1960 of 21 July on Horizontal Property.

[3] A “gran tenedor” is considered a property owner possessing more than 10 properties, according to Royal Decree-Law 11/2020.