In the year 1561, Philip II made a brave move to gain appeal by changing the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Toledo is a beautiful city located 70 km away from Madrid, but doesn’t really have room for geographical expansion. However, Madrid at the time was just a military outpost, so it didn’t have the necessary housing for all the officials, nobles and rich people who would move with the king.
This, as you can imagine, caused a few problems because they couldn’t just kick out the existing homeowners nor build enough houses overnight. Philip II’s advisors at the time helped the king come up with a solution, the “Regalia de Aposento” (“room charge”). All the existing houses in Madrid would have to give lodgings to the royals, depending on their size and facilities. Some of them were even required to temporarily give half of their home to accommodate royal officials.
Officials would go round the houses to inspect them and determine how they would go about with the law but, as expected, they weren’t quite welcomed. People didn’t even open their doors to them. So, the only thing they could do was stand outside, count how many windows a house had, and try to figure out if they might have an empty room or not, which was pretty difficult… Most houses in that area had 5 floors but from the outside it looked as if they had less. This tax lasted around 200 years, so many of these houses were built this way on purpose (see photo), to dodge the “Regalia de Aposento” law. These houses were called “Casa a la Malicia”, (houses built maliciously). Between 1561 and 1618 the amount of houses in Madrid quadrupled from 2500 to 10,000. The government caught on to this kind of tax evasion after a while, and homeowners were made to pay a monetary charge of up to 50% of their estimated rental income.
If you were lucky to be in with the King, you may have had a “privileged house” whereby you had no obligation to accommodate royal officials, by purchase of exemption or royal donation. (Alright for some!)