Miss W’s blog: The Ibiza housing crisis continues
Life in Ibiza is cyclical. Seasons come and go and with each new season, we tend to see similar issues – sometimes good and sometimes bad – arise. One of the recurring themes we’ve seen in recent years is just how difficult it is for Ibiza residents to find good quality, value for money rental housing in today’s society.
I wrote a blog on this topic back in 2015 – and to save my fingers the trouble of writing it all again, I’m just going to share the link with you HERE. Please read it to get your head around what it’s like to be living on an island where there are agents who act more like cowboys, where signed contracts don’t mean anything, landlords ask for a year’s rent upfront and the cost of living has seen people even advertise the back of their campervans as ‘romantic’ alternatives to shared rooms (seriously – it was on the front page of the Diario de Ibiza recently).
Since I wrote that blog, nothing has changed. If anything, the rental market has gotten more desperate, more competitive, more ruthless. If you’re an islander like me, chances are you’ll have either experienced it first hand or heard about it from friends, family or colleagues. If you’re a holidaymaker, I implore you to bear with me and read this blog, and really think about the consequences of the holiday accommodation you choose (pretty please, with sugar on top, just make sure it’s legal!).
Just this week, a friend of mine – let’s call her Miss F – experienced some seriously underhanded behaviour when the owner of her apartment gave her just three days notice to move out (despite having a signed 12-month contract), effectively leaving her on the streets, given that he holds her two months deposit already (and there’s the fear she may not even get it back, as is becoming more and more common in Ibiza these days), making it difficult, or extremely limiting, for her to find emergency accommodation options.
Luckily, Miss F is a lovely girl and has plenty of people willing to offer up their spare rooms while she gets back on her feet. But she is still faced with being back on the apartment hunt, at the toughest time of year when all the good apartments have already been snapped up and she’s busy working long hours in the lead up to summer. Many people have told her to stick to her guns, to refuse to leave the apartment, that she should see a lawyer. Sure, she’d love to stay, but the reality is it’s not so easy for a single girl to stand her ground in an apartment when someone else who definitively wants you out holds another set of keys. The legality and the reality don’t always match up.
Only a few weeks ago, another person very dear to me – let’s call him Mr J – had his rent increased by a massive 70-percent, taking it from an affordable, reasonable price for the size and style of the apartment, to an inflated overpriced rental. Again, he was told he had rights as a long-term tenant, that he should stand his ground and refuse to pay but really, faced with that situation? Whaddyagunnado? He tightened his purse strings and coughed up the extra money because he didn’t want to face eviction at this time of year, nor be thrown into the property market when time is precious. He was lucky he could afford it. Others may have had a tougher time.
Earlier this year it was publicised that police and medical staff are no longer coming from the mainland to Ibiza because they can’t afford the cost of living. People who earn a decent wage are finding their budgets impossible to be met. So here’s where could affects you, dear holidaymaker (and I thank you from the bottom of my heart if you’ve read this far). What if, heaven forbid, you need the assistance of emergency services on your holiday? Don’t want to think about that? OK, how about this: what happens if it filters down to the people who pour your cocktails? To the chefs who create your amazing meals? To the masseuse who soothes sore muscles? What happens if al the best workers stop coming to Ibiza to provide the best services? We’re not there yet – but it could happen…
So what can we do about it? I don’t want to use this blogs space complain, moan or preach about the situation (after all, I already did that back in 2015!). I am lucky to have (fingers crossed and touch wood) a lovely apartment and a great landlord right now – for that I am truly grateful and I thank my lucky stars for this every day. I want to use it to make a difference. I would love it if more owners were like my landlord. If more people were honest. If people stopped to think about the moral complications of their greed (easier said than done, I know). I would love to see an alternative housing scheme introduced for those who aren’t fortunate enough to own their own home but want to live and work in Ibiza (anyone know any developers?).
I would like to find a solution to these horrible situations more and more people are finding themselves in every day. But how do we do this? We – and when I say we, I mean the Ibiza community and those who enjoy visiting – need to stick together and support each other. We need to denounce those who put us in terrible situations like Miss F to be sure they don’t do it to another person in the future. We need to fight for our rights and try to turn this industry on its head. Change is coming. The government has already introduced a website where you can report fraudulent rentals and fines of up to 40,000€ are being issued. It’s a start.
I would like to ask the REAL Ibiza real estate agents and the honest owners to please stand up. Those who have a code of ethics. We know you’re out there. We see you on Facebook, as outraged as the renters at the state of the housing crisis. The people of Ibiza need you. Now, more than ever, is your time to shine.
After all, a good tenant is for life, not just for summer.