The Spanish government has just taken an important step towards controlling the legal vacuum which has existed until now with regard to holiday rentals via platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway, because as intermediaries they did not have to provide any information about their clients and their businesses.
Parliament has now approved new regulations which will oblige intermediaries of holiday rentals, especially the so-called 'collaborative platforms', to provide information about the people who own the holiday properties, as well as the properties themselves, and the amounts which have been paid to rent them.
These details will now have to be passed to Hacienda, the Spanish Ministry of Finance and Taxation. The aim of this measure is to combat tax fraud, because the government is well aware that many of these rental transactions are not declared.
The authorities have not explained how the information will have to be provided, because that will be decided by the relevant Ministry. However, the draft decree which was submitted to public view said that a form would have to be filled in, with details of the owner of the holiday accommodation, the people who rent it, the number of days it is rented, and the amount paid.
This declaration will be obligatory for individuals and companies who act as intermediaries between the property owners and their clients, especially those who work as a collaborative platform and are therefore considered to be suppliers of services of this type.
The new regulation is expected to come into force in July. The idea of submitting these regular reports to provide information about holiday rentals is the latest phase of a campaign carried out by Hacienda in recent years to monitor this type of tourism and to impose greater controls over companies which rent properties and vehicles.
Last year, the Ministry warned 21,500 people that it was aware they had rented out a property and that they would have to include the money they had received for this on their tax declaration.
The new measure has the backing of the tourism sector, which has been complaining for years about what it considers to be unfair competition from these holiday rental platforms.
The Exceltur organisation, for example, said it was very pleased that the new regulations would be coming into force at last.
“This will be a very important step regarding the role played by Internet platforms. It will ensure that the Spanish tax system receives the money it is due, and that the relevant information which is needed to protect national security is supplied,” it said in a statement.
Sources at Exceltur say this measure is needed to respond to the challenges of the “uncontrolled growth in holiday rentals in a context of a lack of transparency.”
They urged the other public administrations which are involved in tourism (regional governments and local councils) to also “reinforce the legal framework” of holiday rentals.
In some places in Spain where numerous properties are rented out to tourists there have been complaints from local residents about the noise and disturbance, and even some incidents of 'tourism phobia'.
Meanwhile the Junta de Andalucía's Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier Fernández, believes this regulation should have come into force some time ago.
“It is important for taxation to be fair. Homes which are rented out for holidays are just the same as campsites, tourist apartments or hotels. This is an economic activity and therefore there is a tax liability associated with it,” he insisted earlier this week.
He also pointed out that these new obligations will result in improved quality, and that “people who stay in these properties also make use of the infrastructure and services of the destination, so the responsibility has to be shared.”