30 April 2017 – El Confidencial
The Town Hall of Madrid has decided to take the lead regarding the problem of the proliferation of tourist homes in the capital. Although it lacks the power to introduce legislation (that responsibility lies with the Community of Madrid), the Town Hall’s Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development is working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb, and the other platforms that operate in the city, to try to put some order to a situation that isn’t showing any signs of letting up. (…).
José Manuel Calvo (pictured above), Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development, plans to have the agreement ready before the end of this legislature.
Specifically, there are three measures that the Town Hall of Madrid is hoping to extrapolate from an example that it has been studying in Amsterdam. The first is “to establish a maximum period of time, be it 60 days, 120 days, etc, that an owner may lease his/her property (home/room) for each year and for the platform to withdraw the property in question from its website, once that quota has been reached, until the following year”.
The second measure involves ensuring that only the owner of a property may lease it out, whereby preventing the involvement of any companies. This will allow “people who need to supplement their mortgage payments, or who need to lease their house to make ends meet, to continue to let out their homes/rooms, but it prevents people from creating tourist accommodation companies without paying taxes, or complying with legislation, etc”.
The crux of the agreement comes in the third measure: “we are considering a tourist tax for tourist homes only, not for hotels, given that hotels already pay taxes, fees, fulfil their obligations etc. Meanwhile, tourist homes do not currently pay any taxes. In other Central European cities, and even in some American cities, some of the landlords’ profits are reinvested in the town, in agreement with the operators”, said Calvo.
With this new revenue stream, the Town Hall could finance the systems of control that it plans to implement to verify that Airbnb and its competitors are complying with the agreed conditions.
But the problem of the touristification or gentrification of the centre of Madrid goes beyond the tourist homes and also affects the proliferation of hotels, to the detriment of residential buildings; another challenge that Calvo wants to tackle by limiting changes of use. (…).
Although he acknowledged that “Madrid faces a very different situation in terms of hotels to Barcelona, Venice and Lisbon (we have 2.7 beds for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 8 in Barcelona)”, he also admits that he is worried by the degree of saturation that is starting to be seen in certain neighbourhoods in the centre, where limits do need to start being imposed (…).
“Madrid undoubtedly still has the capacity to increase its hotel and tourist capacity, but, the question is whether that should all be concentrated in the centre, in the same neighbourhoods, where the residential fabric is being pushed out by the increase in hotels and tourist apartments? We don’t think so, we need to diversify. Ideally, they would go towards the Arganzuela district, towards Chamartín, towards Chamberí, to the outskirts, to the other side of the M-30…”.
And it was on this point that Calvo was most belligerent, going as far as to state that he would be willing to set thresholds, to establish limits in those areas where saturation is detected. (…).
Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake