Legal development

Barcelona adapts its metropolitan general plan for the implementation of coliving

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    Catalonia was the first autonomous community to consider the need to provide legal support to the new residential modalities of land sharing (coliving and cohousing).

    The Catalan legislator addressed these practices in Decree-Law 17/2019, of 23 December, on Urgent Measures to Improve Access to Housing, which amended previous regulations and, in particular, Law 18/2007, of 28 December, on the Right to Housing in Catalonia (the "Catalonian Law on the Right to Housing"). The main objective was to broaden the range of options available to the Administration to resolve, through public facilities, the housing needs arising from social emergency situations..

    Under the already existing definition of "endowed accommodation" (alojamiento dotacional), the regulation sought to include new housing solutions by allowing their implementation on land with the urban planning classification of community facilities (equipamiento comunitario). It also allowed for private development subject to an agreement with the relevant housing Administration and the drafting of a special urban development plan justifying the public or social interest of the facility.

    Although Decree-Law 17/2019 established some of the requirements to be met by this type of accommodation, an urban development was needed to clarify its scope of application and location conditions. Barcelona is the first municipality to carry out this development and has done so through an amendment of the General Metropolitan Plan (the "Amendment of the Barcelona GMP"). This amendment was published on 18 November 2022 in the Official Journal of the Catalonian Generalitat.


    The terms coliving and cohousing are not included in national or regional regulations, which, nevertheless, are beginning to adapt to these new realities. Both coliving and cohousing are residential proposals based on sharing common spaces. However, in coliving, the majority are shared spaces that encourage continuous interaction between residents, while in cohousing, private residential units include all the traditional functionalities, although in a smaller space than was usual until to now.

    Another relevant difference is that coliving is designed for temporary stays (long or short), while cohousing can be a permanent residential solution.

    In this respect, the concept of endowed accommodation introduced by Decree-Law 17/2019 is more inspired by coliving solutions because it requires these accommodation to meet temporary housing needs.

    The Amendment of the Barcelona GMP confirms that it only covers temporary housing solutions (never permanent, more typical of cohousing), even though it does not specify a maximum time limit for a temporary use to be considered permanent.


    Decree-Law 17/2019 included in the Catalonian Law on the Right to Housing a very flexible regime in terms of the relative proportion of common and shared spaces in endowed accommodations. All or part of the elements of the accommodation can be shared and even admits the private use of complete living units.

    Along the same lines, the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP differentiates between three types of endowed accommodations:

    a. Fully equipped endowed accommodations. All the spaces are privately used as independent living units and only the circulation elements and structural installations of the building are shared. The independent living units shall have a minimum useful surface area of 36 sq.m.

    b. Endowed accommodations with communal spaces. These are accommodations that, in addition to the private spaces, have communal spaces shared by all the residents. In this type of accommodation, the private spaces will have a minimum useful surface area of 30 sq. m. (exceptionally 24 sq. m.) and 6 sq.m. for the allocated communal spaces. Overall, each resident shall be allocated a theoretical space, between private and communal, of 36 sq. m.

    In the case of full equipped endowed accommodations and endowed accommodations with communal areas, a space for a two-wheeled vehicle should be provided for every four living units. This area may be used for other collective uses if justified by the characteristics of the target group of the development. Likewise, there shall be 10 sq. m. reserved for bicycles for every ten living units.

    c. Collective residential endowed accommodations: These refer to accommodations with independent living units (consisting of bedroom and bathroom), collective spaces and, where appropriate, communal spaces (which may include the provision of compulsory services to users). Collective residential accommodations shall meet the following minimum conditions:

    • a maximum of 60% of the floor area above-ground level shall be dedicated to private spaces;
    • there shall be no accommodation units larger than a double room;
    • for the single room, the minimum useful surface area is 11 sq. m. including the bathroom;
    • for the double room, the minimum useful surface area is 18 sq. m. including the bathroom;
    • in addition to the above minimum areas, an area available for storage shall be added;
    • in the case of rooms including office space, the above minimum areas shall be increased by 4 sq. m. in the case of single rooms and 6 sq. m. in the case of double rooms;
    • one space shall be reserved for one two-wheeled vehicle for every six rooms;
    • where there are more than 50 double rooms or the equivalent in single rooms, a space on the internal plot for loading and unloading of 8 by 3.5 meters shall be provided; and
    • there shall be two bicycle parking spaces reserved for every 100 sq. m.

    The Amendment of the Barcelona GMP includes other planning and building conditions that are common to all three types of accommodation, among others:

    a. Neither the ground floor nor the mezzanine floor of the building may be used for private or communal use.

    b. The maximum surface area of the facilities shall be 3,000 sq. m.

    c. Private initiative will require the prior development of all the land reserved for facilities and classified unitarily by the urban planning, regardless of the structure of the property.


    The Amendment of the Barcelona GMP limits the potential beneficiaries of these accommodations with respect to the open list provided in the Catalonian Law on the Right to Housing (as amended by Decree-Law 17/2019).

    In particular, these are the potential beneficiary groups for each type of accommodation under the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP:

    a. Accommodations to cover emancipation difficulties and other reception needs should be for young people, older people and other vulnerable groups.

    b. Health care accommodations should be intended for people accompanying minors or long-term dependent patients, people in need of isolation without direct health care or people undergoing long- or medium-term treatment who do not require hospital admission.

    c. Social assistance accommodations should be for persons or family units who are vulnerable due to their economic conditions or social fragility and who are not being attended through other social services.

    d. Accommodations for studies may be for members of the educational community in university studies or advanced level vocational training, as well as for research in universities and research centers, whether they are students, teaching staff or researchers (a fairly broad group).

    e. On the other hand, the only people who will be able to use accommodations for work-related needs will be high-performance sportspeople and creators, in the latter case as a complement to a publicly-owned cultural facility or by foundations in which the public sector has a stake. This severely limits the possibility of setting up coliving accommodations for people coming to Barcelona to work temporarily.

    f. Lastly, endowed accommodations to cover the housing needs of groups affected by an urban development project can only be publicly owned.

    It is envisaged that the Administration may temporarily allocate the endowed accommodation to deal with exceptional situations of social emergency.


    In accordance with the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP, the tenancy regime of the accommodations will be that of rental or other temporary use. The transfer of ownership of the independent living units is not permitted, nor is it possible to divide the facilities into horizontal property (condominium regime).

    According to Decree-Law 17/2019, the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP requires the approval of a special urban plan for the development of any type endowed accommodations and also indicates the minimum content of the plan..

    In the case of privately owned accommodations, the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP recalls the need to constitute and register in the Land Registry first refusal and call back rights in favor of the Administration for an indefinite period (for the first onerous transfer), and for ten years (in the case of second and subsequent onerous transfers).


    In general terms, the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP applies to the whole municipality.

    The implementation of an endowed accommodation facility is compatible with any other type of community facility provided that it is envisaged in the relevant special plan.

    However, these endowed accommodation facilities are not permitted on land classified as facilities in the industrial areas corresponding to the Zona Franca, Verneda Industrial, Torrent d'Estadella and Bon Pastor.

    Finally, a maximum land area of 99,640 sq. m. is allocated to private initiative (which must be added to the land allocated to facilities already in existence and included in a finally approved plan). This land area allocated to private initiative is distributed by districts:

     Ciutat Vella8.839 
     Les Corts11.179
    Sarrià-Sant Gervasi 15.670
     Nou Barris9.975
     Sant Andreu5.643
     Sant Martí8.855

     As mentioned, the Amendment of the Barcelona GMP recognizes the previous existence of privately-owned endowed accommodation facilities that occupy a surface area of 129,700 sq. m. (and which are excluded from this distribution).


    The development of endowed accommodations on community facilities land in Barcelona has not been completed.

    The Amendment of the Barcelona GMP foresees the approval, within a year, of a municipal ordinance which, among other issues, will regulate the criteria and method for calculating and updating the price or rent to be paid by residents also in the case of private developments.

    In order to establish these criteria, it will be necessary to take into account the group for which the accommodation facility is intended, the type of accommodation facility and the conditions of the agreement with the Administration. In addition, reference prices for the rental of subsidised housing, welfare and social scales and market studies may also be taken into account.

    It is foreseen that the ordinance will also regulate the criteria for selecting the users of the facilities and the different commitments of the developer that, where appropriate, may be foreseen in view of the public interest of the action.

    The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to.
    Readers should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.


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