Management of social housing

AGAUR (Catalan Government)


In the current context, in which the percentage of the population that have trouble accessing housing  has grown, it is noteworthy that only 2% of the social housing in Spain is available for rent. This is an alarming low proportion when compared to the 18% in the United Kingdom or the 32% in the Netherlands. The main reasons why this is so are related to the fact that public policy in Spain has traditionally favoured the buying of homes, but to this we must add the fact that it is difficult to finance and manage social housing for rent, especially if we bear in mind that the main providers of social housing in Spain are public bodies.


Their stocks of social housing are among the biggest in Europe. This is possible thanks mainly to the large number of provides of social housing. Notable among these are Housing Associations in the United Kingdom and the Woningcorporaties in the Netherlands), which are private non-profit organisations. The main advantages to these bodies are: their financial independence, the reinvestment of their profits in the stock of social housing, and the fact that they specialise in this area. Furthermore, we are talking about countries that have a complex but unitary legal system for the regulation of social housing.


    1. To carry out a study of social housing in Spain as regards the stock of such housing, its governance, existing providers and how the system works, as well as to highlight the main shortcomings in how this housing is handled.
    2. To carry out a study of systems for the management of social housing in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands: the bodies that provide the same, the way it is awarded to users, the existence of registries (both for providers and applicants), the existence of specific types of tenure for social housing, the specific legislation on the matter and, above all, to analyse the way the Housing Associations manage the following: legal governance, control, organisation and administration, financing and other aspects.
    3. To establish the introduction of aspects of the European systems studied to the Spanish system for the management of social housing, placing a special emphasis on the governance and legal control of the providers of social housing, as well as on how to establish a regulatory proposal that would govern the essential aspects involved in the management of social housing. The challenge is to establish a legal framework that would give housing providers the legal guarantees and security that would encourage them to enter the social housing sector.


As regards:

The general population, people requesting and renting social housing:

  • an increase in the stock of homes to rent at affordable prices
  • a more flexible system for the granting of social housing
  • better management of the stock of social housing: more social assistance, more services on offer
  • conservation and improvement of the stock of social housing, reinvesting the entity’s profits
  • better representation of tenants before the housing provider and manager, with the possibility of involving them in the policies aimed at the management of the stock of social housing

The Public Administration:

  • Compliance with the constitutional mandate to ensure the right to a decent and adequate home
  • Less public expenses in terms of the construction and management of social housing
  • Not providing social housing does not necessarily imply a total loss of control over the social housing on offer

Entities that provide and manage the stock of social housing:

  • Finding tenants for the huge number of homes currently lying empty
  • Access to subsidies and public help for the construction and management of the stock of social housing
  • Legal security in the social housing sector
  • Greater commitment on the part of tenants, which will imply resolving one of the main problems involved in social housing: the deterioration of the home due to poor maintenance by the social tenants