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After seeing housing costs jump by more than 50% in the past five years, officials in Barcelona are moving to introduce Spain’s most aggressive rent controls.

Under a decree published last week, landlords will have to negotiate leases based on benchmark prices set for each property in neighborhoods tagged as most desirable. That regulation follows a national law implemented in March that caps annual rent hikes at the rate of inflation, currently 1.5%.

Spain’s hottest property markets — Madrid, Barcelona, the Basque region, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean — have attracted money from foreign investors such as Blackstone Group and Cerberus Capital Management in recent years just as thousands of landlords converted year-around flats to tourist apartments. Progressive parties that have taken control of city halls blame the foreigners for much of the rent increases.

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