Reflecting its growing wealth, Spain has both the highest first-home and second-home ownership in Europe. If you thought this would make for a vibrant rental market, you’d be very wrong. Spaniards don’t buy to rent and, in fact, outside the major cities and the coasts, there’s precious little property on the market. A recent Construction special in the Diario de Pontevedra put this down to the fact that the law re bills run up by tenants and the inadequacies of the judicial system together make renting out a fraught and potentially profitless prospect for property owners. So the places stay empty for most, if not all, of the year. There’s been talk by various regional governments of disincentives such as extra taxes but the writer of the article was surely right in suggesting a better way to go would be a change in the laws plus improvements in the judicial system, such as a special court for landlord-tenant cases. But I don’t suppose anyone is holding their breath.
Today is our Day of Reflection ahead of tomorrow’s regional and local elections. El Pais yesterday began a leader with these words:- Although savage urban development and corruption in the construction sector have been regularly mentioned, what’s certain is they haven’t really been the subject of the debate they merit.
How true. And the result, the paper notes elsewhere, is that the international ‘perception’ is that Spain is now more corrupt than before. Spain, it seems, has slipped down to no. 23 on the Clean Country list, alongside places like Chile, Barbados and [yes] Japan. For reference, Iceland is no. 1 and the UK, the USA and France are, respectively 11, 17 and 18. Bottom, at 37, was Cyprus. But there’s better news for Spain when it comes to the question of whether citizens have to pay bribes to get things done. Here, it ranks alongside the UK, the USA and France. Which confirm my own impression that corruption here is very localised. With the emphasis on ‘local’ and ‘construction’. My suspicion is that, to many here, this seems like a victimless crime, not worth worrying too much about. Especially as it will reduce naturally with the death of the property boom.
The American company which owns the treasure-hunting ship, The Odyssey, has admitted the bullion it flew last weekend from Gibraltar may well be from a Spanish ship. However, it claims 90% of the value will still be theirs, presumably because the wreck was in international waters. This is a complex area of the law but I guess they’re invoking the ancient British statute of Ye Finders, Ye Keepers. Closer to home, a British ship prospecting near one of the islands off Vigo is now regularly having its collar felt. Perhaps by the same police who do such a great job of checking re illegal fishing from the port.