28 January 2018 – El Economista
Spain is breaking records in terms of visitor numbers and, in the age of the globalisation of communications, many people are wanting to make money from renting out their homes. This trend has forced autonomous governments and town halls to introduce legislation so that the so-called collaborative economy does not end up turning into unfair competition.
The tourist housing sector has been calling for the homogenous regulation of its activity for some time now, but for the time being, it has had to make do with the regulations approved by certain autonomous governments and town halls, above all those in the most central neighbourhoods, which are seeing their resident populations emptying out in the face of rising rental prices.
The latest to join the regulation train is the Town Hall of Madrid, which has approved a one-year moratorium for the granting of operating licences for all kinds of accommodation in residential buildings exceeding 90 days.
The moratorium will result in the suspension of licences for the opening of new hotels in the centre, a paralysis that in the case of tourist homes also extends to the districts of Chamberí, Salamanca and Arganzuela.
The Community of Madrid is also preparing a decree to regulate homes for tourist use, which will require owners to have a certificate of suitability to guarantee that their properties fulfil the conditions necessary and which will define digital platforms such as Airbnb as “tourist companies”, liable to fines of up to €300,000.
One of the pioneers in regulating this activity was the Town Hall of Barcelona, which prohibits the opening of new accommodation of this kind in the centre of the city, but does allow the closure of existing ones in the outskirts to be compensated, provided the new units are located in exclusive buildings and have not been used for residential purposes.
Moreover, it has strengthened the detection and sanctioning of illegal tourist apartments and, in the application of Catalan law, has fined operators that publicise them.
The Balearic Islands’ Government is also fining people who let their apartments to tourists up to €40,000, and in the case of real estate agents, tourism brokers and the digital platforms that publish them like Airbnb and HomeAway, it is levying fines of up to €400,000.
In fact, last month, sanction files were opened against Airbnb and Tripadvisor for their illegal supply of rental apartments in the Balearic Islands.
Meanwhile, since 2016 in Andalucía, the Junta has obliged homes used for tourist purposes to be recorded in a register, in order to avoid fraud, intrusion and unfair competition against hotel establishments (…).
After a great deal of controversy with tourist associations, the Canarian Government regulated the use of holiday rentals in 2015, and although the High Court annulled the article that prohibited holiday rentals in tourist areas, the law is still valid because the Executive filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which has not ruled yet (…).
Any apartment offered through a digital platform in the Community of Valencia must be registered with the Valencian Tourism Agency and is subject to governing regulations in terms of safety and quality.
Murcia, meanwhile, has implemented a specific plan to reduce the current mismatch between the regulated and unregulated supply, putting a stop to intrusion and reinforcing the fight against employment on the black market, which is typically precarious and exploitative.
By next spring, the Community of Castilla-La Mancha will have drafted a law that will put an end to the legislative vacuum in this regard and which, according to the regional Government’s calculations, will allow it to shed light on between 1,500 and 2,00 tourist homes that are advertised on several online portals, but which offer no guarantees for clients and generate no tax revenues for the administration.
In Euskadi, last month, the Basque Government approved a draft decree that seeks to regulate the most tourist aspects of homes, providing guarantees to advertisers, neighbours and tourists, given that the decision to grant licences lies with the town halls, such as those of Bilbao and San Sebastián, which account for two thirds of the almost 2,500 tourist apartments in the País Vasco (…).
In March 2017, the La Rioja Government approved a general tourism regulation, which distinguishes tourist apartments – those that contain three or more accommodation units in the same building – from homes for tourist use, including those that are advertised online.
Last year, a decree entered into force in Asturias to regulate tourist apartments and, according to the most recent available figures, 640 registrations have been recorded and 159 sanction files have been opened (…).
Finally, the Junta de Extremadura is working to reform Law 2/2011, dated 31 January, governing the Development and Modernisation of Tourism in Extremadura, which will materialise this year and which will offer new instruments to help in the fight against fraud involving tourist apartments.
Original story: El Economista
Translation: Carmel Drake