Airbnb Delists 18,000 Andalusian Rental Flats Lacking Registration

5 October 2018

Since Monday, the online short-term rental platform is only displaying properties in Andalusia that are registered with the tourism office, reducing its supply to 40,800 listings.

Beginning this week, the vacation rental giant Airbnb will only display listings for homes in Andalusia that comply with local regulations and have the relevant registration number. The new requirement has led the online platform to eliminate 18,000 listings in Andalusia, reducing the supply in the region to 40,800, the company announced. The new rules are a severe blow to informal offerings in the region which will now no longer be able to advertise on the most important website for holiday rentals. “This unique agreement provides present and future hosts with the security and clarity they need to share their home responsibly,” the company stated.

Although the platform does not have data by province, statistics provided by the Tourism Registry of Andalusia points to a high concentration of tourist apartments on the Costa del Sol, an area that accounts for more than half of the supply of tourist housing for the region as a whole. The latest figures showed that 24,342 tourist apartments were registered in the province of Malaga, equivalent to a total of 127,218 beds.

Airbnb stated that almost half of the 18,000 listing for flats that were delisted for not having the necessary registration with the Tourism Registry of Andalusia had not had any reservations in the last year. The rest operated normally, despite not complying with the regulation. Airbnb’s new requirement served to remove those offerings from the market. That became possible after the company reached a compromise with the local government, through which Airbnb implemented a simplified online registration system earlier this year aimed at helping Andalusian hosts to comply with local rental laws.

“Airbnb’s agreement with the municipality was implemented in full on October 1. After the creation of a simplified online registration system, we have deactivated the advertisements that, as of September 30, did not include a registration number in accordance with the Andalusian tourism law,” the company announced. After the reduction, the platform now has 40,800 listings for tourist properties in Andalusia. The company also stated that almost 80% of property owners, or hosts, as the company calls them, have just one listing, while just 2% have more than five.

The typical Andalusian host is 47 years old and rents their property for 33 days a year. The majority of hosts are women (53%), and 79% of them have between 30 and 59 years of age.

The platform values its cooperation with the municipality and sees it as a model for the future. “Airbnb cooperated with the Andalusian government to create a tool that helps to support the community of responsible home sharers and is the only platform that is committed to sharing data with the authorities, making the task of inspection easier.”

Other online platforms grouped under the PAT banner announced that they would request mandatory registration for any new holiday homes in Andalusia starting this week. The association, made up of HomeAway, Rentalia, Spain-Holiday.com and Niumba, has a total of more than 60,000 holiday homes in Andalusia. It is another step towards the elimination of the informal market in the region and will further encourage the registration of flats that operate in the sector. Also, the PAT platforms announced their commitment to seek “solutions and tools” to extend the registration requirement to the entire supply of flats in Andalusia. The local government also announced “concrete actions” to create a new state framework for the sector by the end of the year.

Original Story: Diário Sur – Pilar Martínez

Photo: Francis Silva

Translation: Richard Turner

Barcelona’s Town Hall has Shut Down 2,355 Illegal Tourist Apartments in 2 Years

11 July 2018 – Inmodiario

After launching the emergency plan against illegal tourist apartments (HUT) in July 2016, the Town Hall of Barcelona has closed 2,355 properties and is in the process of shutting down another 1,800.

Moreover, this summer the “Fair Tourism BCN” campaign is being promoted once again to inform and raise awareness amongst citizens and visitors alike about the dangers of this illegal activity for everyone.

In total, 10,635 files have been opened and 5,503 fines have been imposed, five times as many as during the period from 2014 to 2016. The number of termination orders rose from 663 in 2014 to 4,148 in 2016.

By area, the files opened have been located primarily in L’Eixample (3,193) and Ciutat Vella (2,920), followed by Sant Martí (1,220), Sants-Montjuïc (1,042) and Gràcia (939).

In addition to this activity, inspections have been conducted of: 81 entire buildings where it was suspected that illegal tourist activity was being undertaken; 21 student halls, also suspected of tourist activity; and 61 illegal B&Bs, under the umbrella of rooms for rent, which were leasing all of their rooms.

Besides the fining activity, the team comprising more than 100 inspectors and visualisers is continuing to work to ensure that closed down apartments do not reopen, to identify new illegal properties and to hunt down the organised networks that are managing more than one property.

In parallel, work is continuing with holiday rental platforms through a joint roundtable that has been working for some time with Homeaway, Booking, TripAdvisor, Rentalia and Apartur, and which has recently been joined by Airbnb.

Work is currently on-going to allow the Town Hall to have access to data about users who have joined the platforms since 1 June 2018.

Original story: Inmodiario 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Treasury Requires Tourist Rental Platforms to Submit Quarterly Informative Returns

1 March 2018 – Expansión

The Government wants to put a stop to the fraud that is happening in the emerging market for tourist apartments. To this end, it is going to intensify the inspection of companies dedicated to the transfer of use of flats, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, HouseTrip, MyTwinPlace, Only-apartments, IntercambioCasas and Rentalia. For that, it is going to require them all to provide much more information and it will conduct a quarterly control of all of their activities. Through this, it wants to improve the “prevention of tax fraud for people and entities, in particular, the so-called collaborative platforms that mediate the transfer of use of homes for tourist purposes”, according to the draft ministerial order designed to put a stop to these kinds of irregularities, to which Expansión has had access. The text approves the so-called “model 179 informative declaration”, together with the conditions and procedures for presenting the required information before the Treasury.

The measure forms part of the strictest control that the Treasury wants to exercise over intermediaries in a rising sector, such as the tourist rental market, which has experienced a genuine boom in recent years and which now has 513,820 beds, 30% more than the sum of Spain’s hotels, hostels and B&Bs (393,838), according to data from Exceltur.

Until now, some of the main initiatives have been directed at users themselves, such as the warning issued last year by the Tax Authorities to more than 21,500 people that had leased their homes through these platforms, advising them that they must declare the money received in their tax returns.

The Treasury wants to close the door on the lack of transparency surrounding certain tourist rentals, behind which are sometimes even hotel chains, which lease homes through the platforms, and are in turn disguised as private users.

As a result, the ministerial order that the Department of Tax Management at the Tax Authority has prepared, emphasises certain concepts that may seem obvious, such as the importance of identifying the owner of the home or of the right “by virtue of which use of the dwelling is transferred”, if that is different from the rightful owner of the home. Moreover, all of the features of a property must be identified. Together with the general registry information, the specific details of each one of the operations that are carried out must be reported: the number of days during which a client leases the home and the price paid to the owner in exchange for its use.

This new order from the Treasury comes in addition to local legislation from many Town Halls such as those of Barcelona, Madrid and the Balearic Islands, which have proposed “ceilings” to stop the overheating of rental prices that has resulted from the boom of Airbnb and similar platforms. In fact, according to calculations from Urban Data Analytics for this newspaper, the upwards trend from the collaborative economy has caused rental prices to rise by an additional 6% in the Eixample district of Barcelona and by an additional 4% in the Centro district of Madrid in one year. That happens because the properties in question generate double the returns of a long-term rental property “A 40 m2 one-bedroom home in the Puerta del Sol area of Madrid generates €1,513 per month on Airbnb and a traditional rent of €700”, says the company by way of example.

Grace period

(…) This ministerial order (…) will apply to all transfers of homes for tourist purposes that take place on or after 1 January 2018.

The frequency of these returns to the Treasury will be quarterly (they must be submitted during the calendar month following the end of each quarter). But this year, in order to facilitate the process, those corresponding to the first two quarters of 2018 may be submitted up until 31 December 2018. Those corresponding to the third and fourth quarter will have to be submitted before 31 October 2018 and 31 January 2019, respectively (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Rentalia: Tourist Rental Homes Break Records Over Easter

19 April 2017 – Expansión

(…). Over the last few days, Spain’s large cities have experienced occupancy rates of 90.5%, i.e. 9.6% percentage points higher than last year, when the occupancy rate reached 80.9%. That is according to a study of prices and occupancy rates conducted by Rentalia (a company that belongs to the Idealista group). Sevilla, San Sebastián and Barcelona were the cities with the highest occupancy rates.

The cities with the highest occupancy rates over the Easter break were: Sevilla, with 98.3% (+14.6 percentage points higher than last year); San Sebastián, 98.1% (+9.1 points); and Barcelona, 96.6% (+13.9 points). Those with the lowest occupancy rates, but still above the national average were: Granada, 94.7% (+1.4 points); Valencia 93.9% (+12.5); Madrid, 92.7% (+1.2); Gijón, 91.5% (+3.8); Córdoba, 91.4% (+27.1); and Málaga 91.4% (-0.5).

“Beyond the large cities, other areas also recorded good occupancy rates”, said Rentalia. 67.5% of tourist homes on the coast were occupied over Easter, which represents an increase of 19.7 percentage points with respect to last year. Homes in rural areas had an average occupancy rate of 68.7%, which is almost identical to the figure recorded in 2016 (68.6%). “Of all the tourist homes in Spain, including homes in all areas, the occupancy rate amounted to 69.1% in 2017, whereas last year, it stood at 58.2%, which means it has grown by 10.9 points”, said the report.

The average price of tourist homes over the Easter break amounted to €30.40 per person per night. The most expensive cities for renting a tourist apartment between 12 and 16 April were: Ibiza, at €65.20 per person per night; Palma at €50.90; and Barcelona, at €42.30.

The best value-for-money destinations over Easter were Gijón at €20.80 per person per night, Alicante (€21.30) and Valencia (€22.80). In other cities, prices ranged between €24 and €40 per person per night: San Sebastián (€40.60); Málaga, €40.50; Sevilla, €39.30; and Granada €36.10, amongst others.

“In terms of the nationality of visitors, it seems that domestic tourists travelled the most during the Easter holidays, above all, given that 89% of reservations were made by domestic tourists and 11% were made by foreigners”, according to the report.

According to Almudena Ucha, Director at Rentalia, “the occupancy rate this year is the best since 2008. The good weather forecasts and the possibility of going to the beach and enjoying the (traditional Easter) processions without rain means that this Easter broke records for holiday rentals”.

Original story: Expansión (by J. M. L.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Airbnb, HomeAway & Wimdu Outperform Traditional Long-Term Lets

23 February 2017 – El Confidencial

Traditional rental agreements (…), which are governed in Spain by the Urban Rental Act (LAU) and which allow a tenant to live in a home for an extended period of time, are starting to become scarce in some very specific areas of large cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. They are falling victim to the unstoppable progress of so-called tourist apartments or short-stay lets (available on a daily, weekly or monthly basis), which have grown like wildfire in recent years, thanks to the development of platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, Wimdu, Niumba, Rentalia and Booking.

Users consider that these assets offer a much more flexible and economic alternative than the product offered by the hotel sector. Meanwhile, homeowners have found a business niche and are generating extra income both from their own homes and from properties acquired as investments. Moreover, their yields are ranging between 4% and 8%, which is well above those offered by other traditional investment products at the moment, including traditional rental properties.

To give us an idea of the volumes being handled by these types of platforms, Airbnb has 13,000 online adverts in the city of Madrid, whilst Idealista has 8,700 adverts for rental homes. In Barcelona, the online platform has 20,000 adverts compared with 6,400 on the real estate portal.

Nevertheless, the problem is limited to very specific locations, such as Malasaña and Chueca in Madrid and Las Ramblas and El L’Eixample in Barcelona. There it is almost impossible to find a long-term rental home. As such, the few products that do come onto the market are leased in a matter of hours and at much higher prices than they were just a couple of years ago. (…).

Rental prices in Malasaña now rarely fall below €800 for a one-bedroom flat measuring just 40m2, but on average, homes there cost between €1,200 and €1,300 per month. On the real estate portal Idealista, there are a few 60m2 flats for rent, for which the owners are asking €2,700/month and even €3,500/month for luxury properties.

Emergence of individual investors

Airbnb defends the “home-sharing” concept, saying that it does not remove available housing from the market because people who live in these homes are still around, they are just sharing their primary residences. Some of these people are using the money to pay for their housing costs”, says the platform. “Studies have been carried out in several cities around the world, showing that the number of homes advertised on Airbnb for exclusively professional use is too low to have any impact on the housing market”.

Nevertheless, the high returns offered by tourist apartments have led many individuals and small-time investors to buy homes in these areas, to subsequently sell them or rent them to tourists. Specifically, individual investors are behind 3 out of every 10 house sales in Madrid, according to data from Tecnocasa. (…).

A very localised phenomenon

What is happening in Malasaña is also being seen on some other very specific streets both in Madrid and Barcelona, where rental prices have really soared. According to Urban Data Analytics, rental prices have risen by more than 20% in neighbourhoods such as Sant Andreu and Sants-Montjuïc, and by 15% in areas such as Gràcia, where prices decreased slightly during the crisis. (…).

According to Bankinter, in its latest report about the Spanish residential sector, these price increases will not last forever. “In our opinion, these double-digit increases, which are driven by a shortage of supply and the boom in tourist rentals, will not last in the long term, nor will they spread to the market as a whole, especially if new legislation is introduced to limit the number of tourist homes a given owner may rent out”.

Sources at Airbnb insist that “The increases in house and rental prices are due to normal factors at play in the real estate market, including: the high demand to live in cities, the appeal of real estate as investment property, the lack of space to build new developments…also, the pressure on house prices is not just being seen in Barcelona, it is happening in all of the large cities around the world (….). House prices were rising before Airbnb ever existed (…)”.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Tourist Sector Hits Back At Airbnb, HomeAway & Niumba

18 May 2015 – Expansión

The sector is demanding a stronger institutional fight against the intermediaries. The Government says that each region is responsible for its own response.

The main Spanish tourism companies have teamed up in an offensive with the aim of limiting the power of the proliferation of unregulated tourist rental accommodation, which do not pay taxes and do not meet the safety, hygiene and space requirements and other guarantees offered by legal accommodation. The sector wants to curb the platforms (websites such as Airbnb, 9flats, Wimdu, Rentalia, Niumba and HomeAway, amongst others) that make money by acting as intermediaries. And to that end, it has been pressuring the Spanish Government for some time to prohibit them, since they think that the autonomous communities are not fulfilling their regulatory duties.

Over the last few months, the tourism association Exceltur, whose members include prestigious companies such as NH, Melia, Iberia, American Express, Hotusa and Globalia, has been holding conversations with the Secretary of State for Tourism (who reports into the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Tourism). Exceltur thinks that the Executive “could do a lot more” to regulate the operations of these rental companies, which it considers are unfair competition and which threaten its business. The main trade association for Spanish hoteliers, Cehat, estimates that between 2010 and 2013, the number of customers staying at these establishments increased by 300%, and it calculates that the number of foreign tourists who use them represents more than 20% of the total.

To support its position, Exceltur has commission the consultancy firm EY (Ernst & Young) to conduct a study analysing the impact that this illegal rental accommodation is having on the tourism sector as a whole, not just on the hotel segment. To date, EY has prepared a report about the consequences for the Balearic Islands if this rental accommodation continues to grow at its current rate over the next ten years. According to its calculations, the hotel sector would lose between 5,000 and 13,000 jobs and forgo a gross added value of between €211 million and €529 million.

Regional jurisdiction

The Government says that tourism is a regional jurisdiction, and so the Central Administration cannot do much beyond trying to standardise the regional regulations as much as possible. Moreover, the upcoming regional and general elections are likely to scupper any attempt at reform.

To date, the regions that have endeavoured to do the most to regulate tourist rental accommodation are Madrid and Cataluña, although the former received a blow from the National Competition and Markets Commission (CNMC) in March when it ruled that the Madrid law (which only allows accommodation to be rented provided the minimum stay is five days) is a barrier to free competition.

Meanwhile, the Catalan Generalitat requires intermediary websites to ensure that each property offered for rent has a kind of identification number plate to accredit it as accommodation with its license in order. Last summer, Cataluña imposed a fine of €300,000 on the web portal Airbnb for allegedly failing to comply with that standard.

On an international level, cities are taking a variety of decisions. Thus, for example, New York has declared war on tourist rental accommodation, with coordinated teams of tax inspectors, police and lawyers; and the town hall of Amsterdam has just approved an agreement with Airbnb, which requries the platform to coordinate the collection of the tourist tax that is applicable to the activities of its users.

The so-called “collaborative economy” represents a real headache for legislators, both in Spain and across Europe. In Spain, Article 16 of the Law for Information Society Services (2002) states that intermediaries (such as Airbnb, Uber and others) are not liable for the possible unlawfulness of the people they host, unless they have specific knowledge thereof. Meanwhile, the European Commission is drafting a directive that may ease restrictions on the European market and facilitate the activity of these platforms.

Original story: Expansión (by Yago González)

Translation: Carmel Drake