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LIFE IN SPAIN

NEW LAWS: What changes about life in Spain in January 2022

A new month and the start of a new year bring many changes to laws, taxes, customer rights and other important matters that affect life in Spain. Here are the changes in January 2022 you need to know about.

NEW LAWS: What changes about life in Spain in January 2022
Photo: People walk on the promenade at Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona on New Year's Day 2022. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

Better warranties for customers 

From January 2022 consumer goods sold across Spain and the EU will have a mandatory 3-year warranty instead of 2.

One of the markets that will be most affected is that of second-hand cars. 

If you buy a used vehicle in 2022 and it breaks down before a year has passed, it will be the seller who will have to deal with the repair.

The warranty changes benefit consumers because they will be more protected, but it has its negative aspect: goods will be more expensive as companies have to cover the extra costs of having more spare parts and repair capacity.

Changes for self-employed workers  

If you’re an ‘autónomo’ (self-employed worker) in Spain, we’ve got a specific article which details the most important changes you should be aware of that will come into force this year, from imminent tax rises to the financial aid available from regional and national governments.

READ MORE: Self-employed in Spain: the key changes to expect in 2022

Vehicle registration tax

On January 1st 2022, Spain’s Registration Tax will also increase, which will make 40 percent of new vehicles 5 percent more expensive, on average €800 more than in 2021.

Spain’s vehicle registration tax (impuesto de matriculación) is a once-off sum which is paid when you buy a new vehicle, a rate which varies depending on the vehicle’s emissions.

Retirement age changing 

On January 1st 2022, the requirements to be able to access retirement with 100 percent of your Spanish pension have changed. 

To retire at 65 you will have to have made tax contributions for a minimum of 37 years and 6 months. That’s three months more than in 2021, when it was 37 years and 3 months.

If you fall below this requirement, you will have to retire at 66 years and 2 months, if you want to collect a full monthly pension. 

The retirement age will continue to rise until 2027, by which time if you have not contributed a minimum of 38 years and 9 months you will have to retire at 67 years of age.

New Housing Law

Back in October, Spain’s left-wing coalition government agreed on the country’s Housing Budget for 2022 and with it big changes to the country’s property laws.

This includes rental price freezes, a tax on empty homes, more public housing, a €250 monthly rental allowance which you can read about more closely here

The proposed new legislation still has to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet in January 2022 and lots of questions still have to be answered and so far it has received plenty of opposition from right-wing parties PP and VOX.

Public holiday on January 6th 

The second public holiday of the year after New Year’s Day — and the first chance of a long weekend by taking one day of annual leave as a puente (long weekend)— comes on Thursday, January 6th.

Crucially, the Christmas period isn’t over yet as on January 6th Spain celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men or Three Kings for Epiphany, which is just as important or arguably more so than Christmas Eve and Day for Spaniards

READ MORE: The public holidays in your region of Spain in 2022

Pets to be considered sentient beings 

In April 2021, the Spanish Parliament pre-approved a measure which enshrined the rights of dogs, cats and other domestic animals as “living beings” which “have feelings” with regards to legal affairs such as divorces or inheritances.

After final approval, this law comes into effect on January 5th 2022. 

The reform “sets out the criteria which the courts must rely on when deciding who to entrust custody of the animal, taking into account its well-being”. 

It will also give pet owners the right to compensation for “moral injury” if their animal is hurt by another person.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes about life in Spain in 2022

No more cold calls at certain hours 

Movistar, Orange, Vodafone and MásMóvil (Euskaltel included) renewed and expanded the Code of Ethics last July, a measure which came into effect on January 1st 2022.

One of the most important changes refers to the hours of sales calls in Spain, agreeing that they will not be made before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. on weekdays, and never on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays.

Operators will also be discouraged from phoning before 10 a.m. or between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., they will only be able to call three times per month and if the potential customers aren’t interested they must desist from calling them for at least three months. 

The IPREM rises

The IPREM is an index used in Spain as a reference for granting a variety of social subsidies for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

It’s also a crucial factor for those applying for Spain’s non-lucrative visa, as non-EU nationals who want to move to Spain without a job have to show they have sufficient financial means to not be a burden for the state, with the bar set at 400 percent the IPREM. 

On January 1st 2022 this figure rose to €579.02 ($654 with the current exchange rate) per month, just under €20 more than in 2021 and €50 more than in 2020.

That means that the standard financial requirement for non-lucrative visa applicants is €2,316 ($2,615) per month in 2022.

So a non-EU national wanting to apply for the non-lucrative residency permit for Spain for the first time (it lasts one year) would have to prove they have €27,792 ($31,390), more than €600 than for those who applied in 2021.

Madrid offers better tax rates

Impuestos propios (own taxes) are tariffs applied by regional governments to address matters pertaining to their community which they’re looking to solve. 

These can be taxes on anything from empty homes, to polluting vehicles or gambling.

On September 1st 2021, Madrid’s regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso made headlines by announcing she would scrap the remaining ‘impuestos propios’ in the region (tax on slot and arcade machines in bars and restaurants and a tax on the storage of waste).

This won’t make a big difference to most people in the Spanish capital but the measure – which came into force on January 1st 2022 – represents the liberal attitude of Madrid’s government and its fiscal incentives.

What will make a difference to 2.5 million of Madrid’s low earners is the drop in income tax (IRPF) in the capital in 2022, where the minimum tax rate will be 8.5 percent for people earning up to €12,450 a year, the lowest tax rate in all of Spain.  

READ MORE: Why you should move to this region in Spain if you want to pay less tax

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For members

PROPERTY

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Despite being known for its year-long sunny weather, Spain is the EU country with the fewest homes with natural light, often intentionally. Why is it that when it comes to spending time at home, Spaniards seem to love being in the dark?

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Spain – the land of sunshine. The country gets between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of sun per year on average, almost double the 1,600 hours the UK gets, for example.

You’d probably assume that finding a bright apartment in such a sunny country would be a piece of cake, but unless you’re renting or buying a modern home, it might be trickier than you realise.

More than one in ten Spaniards live in dwellings they feel are “too dark” – the highest percentage among all EU countries, according to figures from Eurostat.

As far as dark homes go, Spain is head and shoulders above the EU average of 5.9 percent, and higher than other nations with a high rate of gloomy homes such as France (9.5 percent), Malta (9.4 percent) and Hungary (7.7 percent).

At the other end of the brightly lit spectrum, it’s no surprise to see that countries with cloudier skies and darker winters such as Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands have homes that let in plenty of natural light, and yet Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean neighbours Italy and Cyprus do make the most of the readily available light.

Dark homes are almost twice as common in Spain as the EU average. Graph: Eurostat.

So why are Spanish homes so dark?

Is it a case of hiding away from the sun, and keeping cool during the summer months? Or is it something else? 

Apartment blocks

The vast majority of Spaniards live in apartments as opposed to houses, often in tightly-packed cities with narrow streets.

In fact, in Spain 64.6 percent of the population lives in flats or apartments, second in the EU after Latvia (65.9 percent.)

By contrast the EU wide average is 46.1 percent.

By nature of apartment living, Spanish homes tend to get less sunlight.

Depending on whether they have an exterior or interior flat, they might not actually have a single window in the flat that faces the street.

If the apartment is on a lower floor, the chances of it receiving natural light are even lower. Internal patios can help to solve this to some extent, but only during the mid day and early afternoon hours. 

why are spanish homes so dark

A dark, narrow street in the centre of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: seth0s/Pixabay

Hot summers

During Spain’s scorching summer months, there’s no greater relief than stepping into a darkened apartment building lobby and feeling the temperature drop. 

In southern Spain, and in coastal regions, Spanish buildings were traditionally built to protect against the heat and hide away from the long sunny hours. White walled exteriors and dark interiors help to keep homes cool.

It’s often the case that bedrooms are put in the darkest, coolest part of the apartment, sometimes with just a box-window to allow for a breeze but no sunlight.

Spaniards’ obsession with blinds and shutters

Spain is pretty much the only country in Europe whose inhabitants still use blinds (persianas), even during the colder winter months.

In this case, rather than it just being down to keeping homes cool during the sweltering summer months, their usage is intrinsic to Spain’s Moorish past and the fact that they provide a degree of privacy from nosy neighbours. By contrast, northern Europeans with Calvinist roots such as the Dutch keep the curtains open to let in natural light and because historically speaking, keeping the inside of homes visible from the street represents not having anything to hide. But in Spain, the intimacy of one’s home is sacrosanct, especially when the neighbour in the apartment building opposite is less then ten metres away.

Keeping the blinds or shutters down also has the advantage of making it easier to have an afternoon nap (the siesta, of course) or to sleep in late after a long night out on the town. 

In any case, it seems hard to believe for some foreigners that many Spaniards are happy to live in the dark whilst spending time at home, regardless of whether they’re sleeping or not. 

A byproduct of this? Dark, gloomy homes.

why are spanish homes so dark

Spaniards aren’t fans of airing their dirty laundry, at least metaphorically speaking. Blinds have historically provided the privacy they’ve wanted from their homes. Photo: Quino Al/Unsplash

The long, dark corridors

Spanish apartments have plenty of quirks that seem odd to outsiders, from the light switches being outside of the room, the aforementioned shutters, the bottles of butane and last but not least, the never-ending corridors. 

Most Spanish homes built in the 19th and 20th century include these long pasillos running from the entrance to the end of the flat. They were meant to provide a separation between the main living spaces and the service rooms (kitchen, bathroom etc), easy access to all and better airing and light capabilities. But when the doors to the rooms are closed as often happens, these corridors become the opposite of what was intended: dark and airless.

Navigating these windowless corridors at night is akin to waking around blindfolded.

dark corridor spain

Light at the end of the tunnel? Dark corridors are a common feature of Spanish homes. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Are Spaniards rethinking their dark homes?

Times are changing, and modern designs are experimenting with more spacious, light-filled, open-plan apartments, especially as the Covid-19 lockdown forced many Spaniards to reconsider their abodes. 

It’s also increasingly common to see property ads stressing that the property is diáfano, which means that natural light enters the home from all sides.

However, the vast majority of Spanish homes are still gloomy for the most part, often intentionally.

A combination of traditional building styles, the crowded nature of apartment block living, the use of shutters, the desire to keep homes private, and the long windowless corridors mean Spanish flats can seem dark if you’re new to the country, and with good reason.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that Spanish society is one that largely lives its life outdoors. Living in smaller apartments, Spaniards generally spend less time at home and more time out and about in the street.

Native to a hot and sunny country as they are, Spaniards’ homes are a place of rest, relaxation and, crucially, sleep.

Spanish people have enough sunlight and heat in their lives; they like to live, therefore, in homes designed to keep cool and dark.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

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