The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has expressed its concern about the Housing Act of 2023. Despite being enacted as legislation intended to regulate contractual relations between landlords and tenants for social benefit, the OCU considers that, as far as rental payments are concerned, it establishes measures that can be considered “discriminatory”.
The OCU argues that the Housing Law prohibits the payment of rent in cash, which, according to consumers, could be a “discriminatory” measure that affects the consumer’s freedom of choice. Law 12/2023, of May 24, for the right to housing, uses a legislative technique that could be unclear by modifying Article 17 of the Urban Leases Law. This modification obliges the use of “electronic means” for the payment of rent, with the exception of allowing payment in cash when one of the parties does not have a bank account or access to such electronic means of payment.
Controversy between the new Housing Law and consumers (OCU) The General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users modified its article 47 last year to consider as an infraction the “refusal to accept cash payment as a means of payment within the limits established by tax regulations and the prevention and fight against tax fraud”. According to the OCU, these amendments to the Housing Law conflict with these regulations.
In addition, this situation also appears to be in conflict with the Civil Code, which allows the payment of debts with legal tender, as well as with the Founding Treaty of the European Union, which establishes the euro as the legal tender of all Member States and, therefore, capable of satisfying debts.
“The regulation affects the freedom of the consumer” The OCU argues that this regulation of the Housing Law, which supposedly seeks to protect accessibility and avoid discrimination, “directly affects the consumer’s freedom of choice”. They claim that there are no public interest reasons that justify this restriction, since cash offers immediacy and availability that technology cannot always guarantee, especially in the face of power outages or problems in communication networks, as well as risks of digital scams such as phishing.
According to the OCU, this measure could discriminate against people in more vulnerable situations and with less access to technology, potentially affecting 1,400,000 people at risk of financial exclusion.
Cash is still the preferred form of payment A study by the Bank of Spain reveals that 82% of the Spanish population is opposed to the disappearance of cash, as it is still the most widely used means of payment in the country (99%), followed by credit/debit cards (86%). The OCU points out that cash is the most widely accepted payment method by the population and promotes “financial inclusion” by allowing better control of household spending and avoiding current account maintenance charges and commissions, among other benefits.