Carmena to Outlaw 95% of Madrid’s Tourist Apartments

27 July 2018 – Expansión

The days are numbered for tourist apartments in the centre of Madrid. Yesterday, the Town Hall of Madrid gave the green light to legislation that will put a limit on holiday rentals: 90 days or three months, is the maximum term that a person may rent their home for those purposes. From day 91 onwards, owners will need to have a commercial lodging licence, just like hotels.

Yesterday, the Spanish capital’s Governing Body approved the Special Plan for the Regulation of the Use of Lodgings, which will apply to the city’s most central neighbourhoods. The plan is expected to enter into force at the beginning of 2019, after being approved by the plenary session in October.

The Town Hall led by the mayor Manuela Carmena is also going to prohibit the operation of all homes destined to tourist rental that do not have an independent entrance, like in the case of hotels. According to the Town Hall, with that requirement, “95% of homes that operate as tourist apartments will no longer be able to do so”.

“Specifically, the affected radius will span 52.7 km, distributed in three concentric rings, depending on the massification of the ads. According to the Town Hall, in the rest of the municipality, “the existing legislation will be maintained”. Madrid is, in fact, the European capital where the number of adverts on these platforms has grown by the most, up by 67% in 2017 with respect to 2016, according to a report from Colliers International.

With this legislation, Madrid’s Town Hall is opening a new chapter in the fight between public administrations and tourist apartments. Its intention is to outlaw almost all of the tourist apartments that are advertised on platforms such as Airbnb in the centre of the city.

The prohibition is tacit. The trick is that 95% of the homes advertised on these platforms in the capital do not have an independent entrance. That limitation will only exist in the case of homes that are leased for more than three months. The 90-day limit draws a line between what is considered a home for tourist use and a property in the collaborative economy.

Obtaining a licence is not going to be easy. It will be subject to zoning, following in the footsteps of cities such as Barcelona. Once the Special Plan comes into force, it will not be possible to change the use of a home located within the inner two rings from residential to tertiary, given that those properties account for the majority of the regulated and unregulated tourist supply. Together with this new plan, the Town Hall has approved a moratorium that prohibits the granting of tourist licences of any kind for one year.

Putting a cap on rents

The objective of the plan is to preserve residential use in the central areas of the city that, with the tourist boom and rise of online platforms, are seeing rising rental prices.

In this vein, the Town Hall wants to establish maximum rental prices. To that end, and as it already did in the case of the request for the tourist tax, the delegate for Sustainable Urban Development, José Manuel Calvo, yesterday asked Sanchez’s Governments for the necessary powers.

Original story: Expansión (by I. Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cataluña Raises Taxes On Barcelona’s Tourist Flats By 250%

14 November 2016 – Cinco Días

The Generalitat de Cataluña, supported by the parliamentary groups CUP and JxSí, is looking to restructure the region’s tourist tax with a law that will accompany the Budget for 2017. It is seeking to modify and increase the tourist tax charged to travellers using hotels, apartments, campsites and cruise ships in the autonomous community.

The aim of the modifications, presented by the Secretary of Finance for the Regional Government, Luis Salvadó, is to generate additional revenues for the Generalitat, amounting to more than €180 million (…). The Government intends to approve the law between the end of this month and the beginning of December, so that the tax changes can come into force from April (2017).

In the case of the tourist tax, the highest increase will affect rental apartments in the city of Barcelona, where the tax will rise by 246%, from €0.65 per night to €2.25 per night. The new fee is equivalent to the rate charged to guests of five star hotels, whose amount will not vary. Meanwhile, clients using tourist apartments in the rest of Cataluña will have to pay €0.90 per day, compared with the current rate of €0.45.

The Association of Tourist Apartments in Barcelona (Apartur) and the Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments has questioned the legality of this measure, describing it as “discriminatory and meaningless”, given that it charges the same amounts to users of tourist apartments in Barcelona as it does to clients of luxury hotels. The groups have stated that the decision is “disproportionate, unjustified and completely arbitrary” and they expressed their concern that it will only serve to encourage the supply of illegal apartments.

The Chairman of Apartur, Enrique Alcántar, stated that the planned increase in the tax rate for tourist apartments in Barcelona is “complete madness”. According to his calculations, the charge is equivalent to 10% of the total daily price of a stay in a tourist apartment, compared to just 1% of the cost of a stay in a five star hotel.

Through this revision to the regulations, the Generalitat is also seeking to introduce the role of a collection assistant. It wants to turn the technological platforms, such as Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking, which act as intermediaries between owners and travellers, into tax collectors. In addition, it has announced a framework of specific offences and sanctions.

New tax on short-stay cruise passengers

Another new measure is planned, which will affect cruise passengers. Until now, cruise passengers who spent less than 12 hours in Barcelona have not had to pay any kind of tourist tax, but from now on, they will have to pay €0.65. The rate for those spending more than 12 hours in the city remains the same, at €2.25. (…)

Original story: Cinco Días (by L.S.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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