La Generalitat Legalises Room Rentals For Tourists

16 July 2015 – El País

The Catalan government has decided to legalise the supply of tourist accommodation that individuals offer in their homes through technology platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway. Citizens will be able to rent out rooms in their places of residence, if they pay the tax that other establishments are subject to. Homes may accommodate tourists for stays lasting no longer than 31 days and they may only rent out rooms for four months in total, although not necessarily consecutively. The local councils will decide in which areas the activity will be authorised.

Cataluña will become the first autonomous community to legislate on the rental of rooms in private homes to tourists. The activity has been happening for some time now, but it was in a legal limbo, and so was under the hotel sector’s spotlight. Last year, hundreds of citizens who carried out the activity in Barcelona, held demonstrations on numerous occasions after La Generalitat levied a fine of €30,000 against eight platforms offering such rooms, including Airbnb. As such, the Catalan Government became the first Administration in the EU to penalise that kind of business.

Nevertheless, the Department for Work and Employment presented a draft bill yesterday aimed at regulating the supply, in the same way as cities such as Amsterdam (Holland) and San Francisco (USA) have done. In these cities, individuals may offer private rooms to tourists for a maximum number of days and in return the tourists are subject to a tourist tax. (…)

In Cataluña, citizens will be able to rent out a maximum of two rooms in their “usual and permanent place of residence” – in return, they must declare it as an economic activity and pay a tourist tax of €0.65 per night in Barcelona and €0.45 per night in the rest of Cataluña.

Property owners, who must be officially registered (’empadronados’) in their properties, will be subject to certain conditions: they may not accommodate more people than permitted by the residency certificate; they may only provide breakfast, no other services; and the owner must continue to live in the property for the duration of his/her client’s stay. (…)

A spokesman for the Government explained that the bill is currently in the planning stage and that a decree will materialise in between five and eight months. The platform Airbnb welcomes La Generalitat’s announcement and said: “We hope to work with La Generalitat over the next few days to understand more about the proposals that have been announced and to find out how residents can participate in the upcoming discussions”.

Original story: El País (by Lluís Pellicer)

Translation: Carmel Drake