29 June 2016 – Expansión
Yesterday, the Town Hall of Barcelona announced that it will impose tougher fines in its attempt to eradicate illegal tourist apartments. The sanctions will amount to €30,000 in the case of individual apartment owners and up to €600,000, in the case of virtual platforms promoting unlicensed apartments against which legal proceedings have already been started. The fines will not affect individuals who rent out a room in their homes, but will apply to those who rent out entire homes and do not have the necessary tourist licences, issued by the Generalitat.
Legal proceedings were launched against Airbnb last year and yesterday, that company issued a strong statement against the municipal regulations, which it described as “disappointing” and “archaic”, given that, in its opinion, “they protect traditional companies and leave no room for individual (entrepreneurs)”.
The main trade association in the sector, Apartur, predicted that the plan “will not work at all”, given that (for it to be successful) it would have to be accompanied by the lifting of the veto that prevents the legalisation of new tourist apartments. Apartur represents 210 companies, which own 7,000 of the 9,600 legal tourist apartments in the city.
The fight against illegal tourist apartments is one of the battle horses that Ada Colau set herself when she was elected mayoress of Barcelona, just over a year ago. The Town Hall said yesterday that in the last year and a half, it has performed 2,505 inspections, of which 2,701 have concluded with the opening of disciplinary proceedings. It also confirmed that it hired more inspectors on Monday.
Last year, Ada Colau opened the first legal proceedings against Airbnb and Homeaway, and following the continuation of the new requirements, nine online portals have stopped advertising unlicensed tourist homes, including Fotocasa, Tripadvisor and Rent4days.
Original story: Expansión (by David Casals)
Translation: Carmel Drake