Photo via Taringa.

According to statistics provided by the City of Buenos Aires, the cost of expenses for an apartment in the capital has risen by 39.2 percent over the last year: the highest increase in six years and in some cases, now almost the equivalent of the properties’ monthly rent.

“The expenses have now risen to a cost that is similar to the rent,” explained  Osvaldo Loisi, President of the Consortium League speaking to Radio 10 this morning. Loisi attempted to justify the rising fees, arguing that they translated into the cost of maintaining properties (this includes paying for elevator inspections, cleaning materials, repairs) and paying the buildings’ supervisors’ salaries (more commonly known as the porteros or doormen who carry out many functions when it comes to looking after the buildings). The expenses are shared between all the residents of a building.

“The buildings that have more units are going to pay more in expenses than those that are smaller… Each consortium had the chance to discuss the increased supervisor salaries with the people in charge,” Loisi explained.  Consortiums are committees made up of the people that live in an apartment building and make decisions on issues that affect all of the residents.

The increase is bad news for apartment dwellers who will feel stretched to pay almost the equivalent to what they are paying in rent. In the latest report by the Statistics and Census Bureau of the City of Buenos Aires, the department found that on average, a family of four (composed of two adults and two children) that paid expenses worth AR $764.99 in May last year, paid AR $1,064.98 in May 2016. In April, the same family would have paid around AR $1,000.96.

Chart via Estadisticaciudad.gob.ar
Chart via Estadisticaciudad.gob.ar

There has been ongoing debate about the cost of apartment expenses since fees began to increase earlier this year. At the beginning of June, the Union of Doormen and Building Supervisors, suggested that expenses would only rise between 8 and 12 percent in the City of Buenos Aires; however, the Federation of Argentine Consortiums (FEDECO) predicted that residents could actually see an increase of between 20 and 40 percent.

It seemed that FEDECO was proven right when, earlier this month, it was decided that supervisors’ salaries would see a 25 percent increase from June to October, with new negotiations being held again at the end of the year. This was after three bonuses had already been paid in March, April and May. At the time, Samuel Knopoff, the head of FEDECO, called the increase “ridiculous” and complained that the money didn’t go into the maintenance of the buildings but straight into the pockets of the supervisors. Last week, Víctor Santa María, head of the Argentine Federation of Rental Building Supervisors (FATERyH), had attempted to dispel this accusation, saying that, “attributing the salary of the manager to the increase in expenses was a misleading simplification” and that the new wage agreement “would not influence [expenses] by more than 9 percent.”

However, given the new utility bills increases, consortiums argue differently. Part of the problem they attribute to the fact that they are not allowed to take part in “collective bargaining” negotiations between unions, employers and the government, which are used to find a way for workers’ salaries to match inflation. “There must be a dismantling of the perverse regime regarding salaries; each consortium has the right to negotiate the conditions with their staff individually, according to the particularities of the work that is required by each building and the needs of the neighborhood,” said Loisi.