Barcelona Cracks Down On Illegal Tourist Accommodation

19 January 2016 – El Economista

The Town Hall of Barcelona has ordered the cessation of activity in 388 tourist apartments, has sealed off another 16 for not adhering to the order to cease their activity and has confirmed that another 17 are in the sealing period.

At a press conference on Monday, the Deputy Mayoress for Urban Planning, Janet Sanz, explained that 482 disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the owners of apartments that have been operating illegally and the revocation of 400 licences has been initiated in cases where the licence holder has been identified to not be the owner of the property.

Alerted by complaints

2,108 disciplinary procedures have been filed against the owners of tourist apartments and the Call Reception Centre set up by the Town Hall has handled more than 3,000 complaints about around 2,400 lodgings, which have allowed the City Police to begin the inspection of 1,816 unlicensed apartments.

The inspections have also allowed 226 disciplinary files to be opened against the owners of tourist apartments that do have licences, but which have not dealt with or resolved an incident when required to do so.

In total, the authorities have identified 1,080 flats in breach of the legislation, but have only fined 482 because they are waiting for a second round of inspections to be carried out to confirm that illegal tourist activity is being undertaken in the properties.

The Deputy Mayoress has also highlighted that the vast majority of the illegal apartments identified are located in the district of Ciutat Vella, followed by Eixample.

These actions to alleviate problems for tourists are included in the report “Municipal actions to counter the illegal supply of tourist accommodation 2015”, which will be presented to the Committee for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility on Wednesday.

Sanz explained that she would like to have more inspectors to detect this kind of activity, but added that the Town Hall has a very “limited” recruitment strategy, restricted by the Law of Budgetary Stability.

Reinforcement in la Barceloneta

She also said that the neighbourhood of la Barceloneta, which is one of the most affected areas, has been visited in a “proactive” way to detect illegal tourist apartments…8,553 visits have been made in total in recent months.

In addition, the neighbourhood has had its own office since November to facilitate complaints from local residents. Furthermore, 33 identification plaques have been installed in apartments that do have licences – there are 72 in total – showing details of the corresponding licence and telephone number.

The objective of the initiative is to identify those apartments that are operating legally and those that are not.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake