Madrid Plans Drastic New Rules that Could Affect 95% of Tourist Apartments

17 August 2018

The draft regulations from City Hall would mean any flat without separate access to the street would need a license.

The boom in tourist apartments in Madrid rented out via accommodation sites such as Airbnb is causing problems with regard to habitability, harmonious cohabitation, and safety, and is “affecting the price of housing,” causing an “astronomical rise in the price of rents” in the city centre. That’s according to new regulations for the sector proposed by City Hall, and which plan to drastically limit the supply of vacation homes in the most central neighbourhoods.

The plan states that the Airbnb model is causing the “expulsion of residents”

The rise in tourist apartments on offer via sites such as Airbnb and Homeaway is rapidly changing cities across the world, and as such has sparked debate over the pros and cons of the model. A report published this week by Spain’s competition watchdog, the CNMC, praised the arrival of such sites, pointing out that they offer an income stream for property owners, drive down prices of vacations, and “empower” the consumer.

In contrast, the cons can be found in the new plan from Madrid City Hall, which will be up for debate until September 27, ahead of its definitive approval.

The plan, to which EL PAÍS has had access, states that the Airbnb model is causing the “expulsion of residents,” and is having an “impact on the habitability of buildings, harmonious cohabitation, the safety of residents, and the use of public spaces, and is affecting the price of housing and the growth of other economic activities.”

In order to defend “residential use” of these neighbourhoods, the new plan states that tourist apartments that are rented out on a professional basis (i.e. more than three months a year) must obtain a license. And in districts in the centre and another three neighbouring areas, these licenses will not be granted if the apartment in question does not have an entrance that is independent from the rest of the flats in the block.

City Hall says that it is not trying to eliminate this kind of accommodation altogether

In practice, this will veto the vast majority of the current supply of tourist rentals, given that the rules will also exclude ground floor apartments that can be directly accessed from the street. When Madrid City Hall announced the plan several months ago, they forecast that this could affect 95% of apartments on offer.

City Hall says that it is not trying to eliminate this kind of accommodation altogether and points out that apartments that are rented out for fewer than three months a year, or where just a room is offered, will not be subject to these rules. The aim, they say, is to reduce the saturation of the market and to “decentralize use” so that more apartments are offered in other areas of the city.

The draft plan argues that the centre of the city is easily accessible from practically any area of the city, with four out of every five neighbourhoods in the capital under half-an-hour away via public transport.

The aim is to reduce the saturation of the market and to “decentralize use” so that more apartments are offered in other areas of the city.

The text describes a process by which more and more apartments are being converted into tourist rentals, thus reducing the stock of housing in the residential market and pushing up rents, as well as seeing many residents forced to leave and turning the centre into a high-income zone. “This increase in real estate market prices can have significant negative impacts,” the report states, “implying a new residential class segregation.”

The draft regulations also point out that the model is having a particular effect on young people, “who traditionally have rented properties in these neighbourhoods in groups.” What’s more, the text continues, this “colonization” is changing economic activity in these areas, prompting a greater focus on meeting demands of tourists.

Original Story: El País – Julio Núñez / J. A. Aunión

Foto: Luis Sevillano

Translation: Richard Turner


Goodbye to Galicia’s Concrete Blocks

29 August 2018

The Galician Regional Executive is imposing more orderly and aesthetic urbanism to municipalities without urban planning rules. The government is prioritizing the adaptation of new buildings to the environment and to traditional construction.

The wide range of municipalities with no urban planning, 215 of a total of 313, which had been governed by minimum standards dating to 1991 and which are already obsolete – three land laws have been approved since then -, will henceforth be subjected to a basic urban planning corpus, that sets outs more orderly urbanism and aesthetic rules. The new rules regulate everything from the appearance of canopies and roofing to the walls that surround farms. The Basic Regional Plan, which was published on Monday in the DOG, but will come into force in a few weeks when it is published in the four provincial bulletins, has a more protectionist bent for non-urbanized spaces and will be mandatory for those countries that lack their own planning. “Determinations of Basic Regional Plan will be binding on any municipalities that lack a general plan for municipal ordination, until they are endowed with such,” the text assures, incorporating the urbanistic and planning guidelines of the territory as approved in the last years by the Regional Executive, especially the Lei do Solo (Land Law) and its regulatory development, both approved in 2016.

Municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants may delegate their planning. The Basic Regional Plan, besides being the immediate legal framework for any municipalities lacking planning, will be the template on which the basic municipal plans should be elaborated, and include some urgent urban planning instruments that the Regional Executive will elaborate for those municipalities that ask for it expressly, delegating this function to the Regional Government. The Regional Executive thus assumes the important task of assisting the municipalities that lack the means to elaborate their own urban planning, delimiting the rural centres, the consolidated urban land and the rural version. However, in those municipalities that have a General Plan for Municipal Ordination (PXOM), the basic plan will have a complementary nature. In other words, it will fill the gaps in municipal planning without modifying land classification.

Standards for buildings

The buildings must be convergent and “with constructive aesthetic solutions.” The “anything goes” phase is over. Both the materials and the colours used in houses must be adapted to the environment and houses must be adorned “with characteristic features”, as well as ethnographic elements of interest such as balconies or galleries. Buildings must employ “constructive aesthetic solutions”, according to the rules of the Lei do Solo, “without major transformations or negative alterations”. In other words, the displacement of earth is limited.

Walls and Canopies

Goodbye to concrete blocks. The elements that close off farms must also be in harmony with the existing structure in the area. Opaque materials are limited to 1.5 meters. From there, vegetal or metallic elements must be used. The traditional walls – those of stone, for example – should be preserved and any new ones should be inspired by them. If the walls are built using new techniques, they must be justified. “The use of cement blocks or factory materials is prohibited unless they are duly covered and painted.”

The canopies and roofs of any houses should be adapted to the predominant style of each geographical area (roofing with slate or tile, for example). The use of corrugated sheet metal without covering is prohibited.


Integrated into the surrounding environment and with walls treated as facades. The facades must also be adapted to the characteristic construction of their surroundings. The walls should be treated as if they were facades, to avoid the terrible visual effect that occurs in many Galician towns. Service networks should preferably be placed underground. Thus, electric power lines must avoid “a strong visual impact” to avoid a mishmash of wiring. The buildings that are not in agreement with this directive will be able to do conservation works, without worsening their lack of compliance.


Between 10 and 7 meters. In consolidated urban lands, one-floor houses cannot exceed 7 meters, while those with two floors should be limited to 10. In rural areas, the height may not exceed 7 meters.

Rural centres

The dwellings must be “completely” finished. Exposed brick or unpainted homes are prohibited. Detached or paired single-family homes are allowed. Only one dwelling is allowed per plot, and the occupation of the land may not exceed 50% of the net plot. Farms must have a minimum area of 300 square meters. The buildings must adhere to the constructive solutions provided for in the Lei do Solo. The typology of the constructions and the materials and colours used should not only be integrated into the environment, but all of their elements must be completely finished. “Exposed partitions are explicitly prohibited, as is the use of other materials without covering or painting.”

Town councils with problems approving their planning

Approvals for urban planning can be complicated, especially when there are platforms or individuals that successfully take legal action. This is the case of two Ourense towns. In the case of Verín, a year and a half ago, the Supreme Court vetoed its urban planning after a complaint by an individual. Curiously, the urban development document approved in 2012, was the second annulled by the court. In Monterrei, the document was also annulled by the Spanish high court. Both municipalities had been elaborating urban development plans for months. Something very similar has happened in the municipality of Abegondo, in the province of A Coruña.

In Cambre, the local government determined the redrafting of the PXOM in 2010, but the breach of the contract and errors of the packaging of the documentation made the current local government rescind the contract at the end of 2017 and reconvene a new tender. Regarding Noia, the plan was approved definitively a couple of years ago but was sent back by the Regional Executive. This was due to the lack of a hydrographic report that guaranteed the population’s water supply, among others. Meanwhile, Rianxo had already received approval, but during the elaboration process, the Lei do Solo changed and it was necessary to readjust it. In Carnota and Mazaricos they have also been trying to approve the plan for years.

Several municipalities on the Costa da Morte have been awaiting approval of the PXOM for years, without success. Sometimes, it is for judicial reasons, since the TSXG has just cancelled the initial planning of Muxía because it was not submitted for a strategic environmental assessment. Other municipalities lack rules for many reasons: lack of agreements, differences of opinion with the Regional Executive, lack of political will, changes in government… Although in different phases, Cee, Cerceda, Corcubión, Dumbría, Fisterra, Malpica and Vimianzo are still pending.

In Celanova, a PXOM approved in 1995 is in force. In 2008, the drafting of the revision was awarded to a company that was absorbed by a Chinese multinational that broke away from the planning division.

Original Story: La Voz de Galicia – Pablo González

Photo: Merce Ares

Translation: Richard Turner


Andalusia Decrees Safeguards to Prevent Sale of Protected Housing to Vulture Funds

28 August 2018

Regulatory changes were approved to reinforce the social function of the stock of public residential housing.

The Governing Council of the Regional Executive approved a decree on Tuesday amending the Regulation of Protected Housing in Andalusia, in force since 2006, to strengthen the social character of the stock of  and shield it from private capital.

The norm, called Defence Decree for Publicly-Owned Residential Housing of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, adapts the regulations to the current state of the real estate sector and increases the guarantees that prevent the properties from ending up in the hands of vulture funds, with the consequent damage for families with limited resources.

As a spokesman of the Andalusian Regional Executive explained in a press conference, the text expressly prohibits the sale of property owned by the public administration to legal entities, thus formalising a measure that the Junta de Andalucía already applies in practice. To date, the executive has never carried out this type of operation with profit-seeking private entities.

The approved decree, which enjoyed input from social agents through the Andalusian Housing Observatory, also incorporates measures that guarantee compliance with the housing’s social function. Among them are included further specification of the people who can use protected housing and in what situations it can be accessed, setting new mechanisms to ensure that the properties remain the habitual and permanent domicile of the chosen families.

Thus, the regulation establishes that only natural persons may be awarded residency and excludes legal entities, though not non-profits, which may be the official tenants provided that the end users belong to groups with special difficulties in accessing a home.

A response to increasing prices due to tourist accommodations

On the other hand, the text broadens the powers of administrations’ rights of first refusal and withdrawal over any protected dwelling, regarding both ownership and rent. Also, with the increase in rent as a result of the interest in tourist accommodations, added guarantees were introduced to prevent that any property is used by any party other than the authorised family.

However, the protected homes may now be used to carry out any economic activity, provided that it is the habitual and permanent residence of the person who exercises it. Likewise, swaps and transfers of protected homes owned by the same developer will not be considered as assignments. Consequently, those transfers will not be subject to the municipal registry by the claimants.

Finally, the decree also modifies the regulation of these registries, in effect since 2012, to give priority in the adjudication processes to registered people promoting housing cooperatives and not, as it has been the case to date, to plaintiffs who express their interest in forming part of them.

Original Story: Eldiá / Europa Press

Translation: Richard Turner