BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Single mom Silvia Figueredo had been looking for months for a more affordable place to rent, so when one in her price range came up, she jumped at it. But when he arrived at the address, he was met with a block-long line of people all interested in the same apartment.
“It’s like going to an audition, and the person with the highest qualifications can rent it, maybe,” said Figueredo, who feels unable to compete with working couples who don’t have children. He also needs a guarantor or deposit to secure a long-term lease, and he has neither.
More property owners are selling their rental properties to pursue more profitable business options after a 2020 law stipulated that rents could be raised annually and increased the minimum lease from two years to three years. With fewer rentals available, landlords can be much more selective about who lives in their properties, leaving out more vulnerable groups such as single mothers, transgender people, same-sex couples and the homeless, industry experts say. many of whom are calling for more government stimulus to help address this critical shortage.
One of them is Alejandro Bennazar, president of the country’s real estate chamber, Cámara Inmobiliaria Argentina. He has seen an increase in the number of people exiting the rental market and choosing to sell their properties for USD.
Figueredo has a 12-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter who live with him. She separated from her partner 11 years ago due to violence, and the latter stopped paying rent 3 years ago. She receives no financial support from him or the government, she works two jobs to support herself. Her ex-partner’s name is on the lease, and the landlady refused to transfer it to Figueredo’s name because she didn’t have a guarantor. Instead, she served him an eviction notice.
“I’ve been evicted from my current place and I’m dying of shame, but I can’t afford to rent,” said Figueredo, who can afford a two-bedroom apartment but says landlords won’t accept him when he moves in. will allow. says he has two children.
Lucila Pelletieri, GPJ Argentina
Marisol Ferrato, a single mother of three, says she’s in the same situation. His search for a lease began in early 2022 and he is still looking. She says she tracked down nearly 100 potential rentals, only to be told they were no longer available or could only accommodate her with one child.
“There are fewer properties for rent, and if you find one, they ask you to meet more requirements,” says Ferrato, describing requirements such as larger deposits, higher minimum incomes and fewer people living there. are in the property. “This is only going to get worse.”
The scarcity of rental properties makes the selection process increasingly exclusive and discriminatory, says Gervasio Muñoz of the Federación de Inculinos Nacional, the national federation of renters. She says single mothers, members of the LGBTQ community and people from other countries are most affected.
“To have access to a house, you have to go to the private market,” he says, because government social housing programs are extremely limited. “And the government does not interfere there in any way. It does not monitor compliance with rental laws, much less ensure that there is no discrimination.”
The Ministry of Regional Development and Habitat, which is responsible for ensuring access to housing, declined to be interviewed by Global Press Journal.
Argentina is already experiencing a housing crisis. The country has a housing deficit of 3.5 million homes, according to the latest estimates from the ministry’s Habitat Secretariat in 2017.
Lucila Pelletieri, GPJ Argentina
This dismal statistic is coupled with a sharp drop in the number of rental homes in Buenos Aires, down 30% in the last quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, and the lowest rental supply since 2018, according to Buenos Aires. General Directorate of Statistics and Census citing information from commercial real estate agency Argenprop.
Lucia Cavallero is a sociologist and researcher at the University of Buenos Aires and a member of Ni Una Menos, a grassroots feminist movement fighting gender-based violence. Cavallero’s research recently focused on the housing crisis after members received numerous requests for help and advice from women struggling to leave abusive partners due to a lack of rental properties. Cavallero says there is no unregulated market and no government office where a woman can turn to for help when she faces a tenant conflict, which in turn gives more power to landlords.
“There is a phenomenon of discrimination related to historical discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” he adds.
Jessie León, a transgender woman who lives and now works at the Centro de Integración Frida, a 45-bed center for cisgender and transgender women living on the street, says she was denied a rental property after her landlord saw is. his He says he saw an ad for a room for rent and yelled through the fence to the woman who owns the house to ask if it was still available.
“He said yes, and when he came out to show me the place, he saw me and said, “Oh no: there are none. I think she was expecting a young man because of my voice,” said Leon, who lives in a hotel that charges 1,000 Argentine pesos ($5) each time a guest is admitted to their room.
Bennazar says there should be government incentives to encourage property owners to rent out their spaces, as well as public policies that make it easier for renters to buy a home.
But Muñoz says the solution lies in new laws that prevent homes from sitting vacant indefinitely, unavailable for rent or resale. According to a report by the Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales (Center for Urban and Regional Studies), 14.6% of homes were vacant in 2021. The report analyzes the percentage of vacant apartments in the city of Buenos Aires between 2017 and 2021 and states: that the largest increase in vacant apartments occurred in 2021.
Figueredo, who is awaiting a decision on her eviction appeal, says she wants nothing more than for the government to support single mothers.
“You feel alone in this,” Figueredo says. “You feel like you have no way out, like you’re helpless. At this point, I am no longer mad at real estate agents or owners. The government is entirely to blame.”