Since 2 February 2016 the National Police have been in charge of controlling who is staying in tourist self-catering accommodation across Malaga province and the Costa de Sol. However the numbers speak for themselves: so far only 23 per cent of holiday homes listed on the tourist accommmodation register are managing to meet their legal obligations and tell police the names of guests.
The rules were introduced to bring the rapidly increasing number of rental properties into line with hotels, which have been requesting guests' passport details for years.
Of the almost 19,000 registered holiday lets in Malaga province, only around 4,500 have set up an account with the National Police to send through the data. Owners(or agents) are required to use a special online program to supply the name, nationality and passport number of each visitor, as well as the dates of their stay, within 24 hours of a guest first arriving.
“The person most concerned who is in their property should be the owner, and even more so with a level 4 terrorism alert currently in place. If we don't know that a particular person is there, we cannot do anything. Our main aim is prevention,” says Gustavo Ferrer of the National Police in Malaga province.
Setting it up should be easy
As the police explain, setting up an account with them to send them the details regularly is easy. Owners should contact their nearest National Police station and ask to be emailed the forms that need to be filled in. Once complete, an appointment needs to be arranged to hand in the paperwork at the same place. An online app is then used to send in the guests' details. Fines for noncompliance by owners can range from 100 euros for a first minor offence to 30,000 euros for those who impede police access to information.
However representatives of the holiday rental industry have criticised the waiting time for appointments at police stations and say that, as a result, some owners have been unable to comply even though they have wanted to.
Start-up companies have also been designing apps to help busy owners of holiday flats and houses process the data from guests more easily and inform police. One such app is CheKin, developed in Andalucía, that claims to save 90 per cent of processing time.