16th July 2024
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Spanish government to limit short-term rentals and tourist flats to address housing crisis

The Spanish government has announced its intention to modify the country’s existing housing law to put more limits on both short-term and tourist lettings, amid rising anger from locals who feel priced out of the housing market. 

The government will investigate listings on platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to verify if they have licences, consumer rights minister Pablo Bustinduy said.

‘If a house doesn’t have a license for tourism, advertising it on internet platforms should be illegal and thus punished,’ Bustinduy said in an interview with Spanish state broadcaster TVE.

Spain is struggling to balance promoting tourism, a key driver of its economy, and addressing its citizens’ concerns over unaffordably high rents due to gentrification and as landlords shift to more lucrative tourist rentals.

Rents rose by an average of 13% in June from a year earlier and by 18% in tourist cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, according to the property website Idealista.

Residents of Barcelona, the Canary Islands and Malaga have staged protests in recent weeks against the rise in tourist rentals. Seasonal hospitality workers struggle to find accommodation in these tourism hot spots, with many resorting to sleeping in caravans or even their cars.

In June, the socialist Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni proposed revoking all the current registered tourist apartments in the city by November 2028. ALSO READ: Barcelona wants to revoke all city’s 10,101 tourist apartment licences by Nov 2028.

Apartur, the association of tourism apartment owners, said the measure amounted to expropriation while Spain’s Constitutional Court is deliberating whether the move is legal.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced earlier this week that his coalition government would create a registry of holiday rental properties in a bid to limit the number of listings.

 Regarding changes to the country’s existing housing law, the aim is to ’empower residents’, housing minister Isabel Rodríguez said on Wednesday – and to make neighbours’ opinions binding when deciding whether or not to authorise any economic activity in residential buildings. 

Temporary rental contracts will have to be accompanied by documents that certify the need for a short-term rental, in the same way that long-term rentals require employment contracts or wage slips, she explained.

‘It’s about empowering neighbours, ensuring amicable co-existence within residential buildings and cities, and letting homeowners decide whether or not they want to accept this type of economic activity in their buildings,’ she added.

The Spanish government also wants to increase restrictions on tourist apartments, giving greater power to the residents’ groups in apartment buildings. 

To do so, the government will look to make ‘surgical’ adjustments to the law, which will be negotiated with various parliamentary groups in the Spanish Congress. 

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