The battle is heating up between the hotels, who claim that holiday lets are creating unfair competition, and owners of properties which are rented for tourism, who say their business helps to create wealth and employment in the province.
Some action has already been taken by the authorities, such as two years ago when the Junta de Andalucía began to insist that all properties used as holiday accommodation are registered and regulated, but there are still calls for more to be done.
The number of properties used for this purpose continues to grow and there have been numerous complaints from neighbours about noise. The situation is also increasing the price of long-term rentals, as more and more owners are turning to holiday lets and there are fewer long-term properties available.
In Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries, the authorities have already decided to restrict holiday accommodation in city centres, but now Rincón de la Victoria council, despite having only 309 rental properties with 1,782 places in the municipality, has decided to take a step further and ban all holiday lets in apartments and semi-detached or terraced properties.
It wants to change its regulations so that the only properties which can be used for tourism are detached houses or complete blocks of apartments, to avoid bothering other residents.
The mayor, Francisco Salado, says this is a problem which has to be dealt with now to prevent further problems arising in the future.
“People can say they were cheated when they bought their homes because they thought they were buying in a residential area and it turns out that their neighbours are using their properties for tourism,” he says.
The proposal has not received unanimous support and some political groups on the council are dubious about whether it is possible. Antonio Sánchez, the spokesman for PSOE, believes the Junta de Andalucía would not allow local authorities to limit the amount of tourist accommodation.
When asked, sources at the regional government preferred not to comment, saying that the proposal would be considered when and if it is officially made.
At present, 36,000 properties in Andalucía are registered as holiday accommodation. Of these, 20,833 are in Malaga province, with capacity for 109,221 people. They are situated in 51 of the 103 municipalities.
There are 3,842 holiday properties with 22,112 places in Marbella, 3,358 with 16,736 places in Malaga city, and 2,395 properties with 16,736 places in Mijas.
These, the top three, are followed by Benalmádena with 2,193 and 10,678 places, Nerja (1,860 and 8,766 places), Estepona (1,675 and 8,918 places), Fuengirola (1,307 properties and 6,648 places) and Torremolinos (1,145 and 5,025).
Together, these figures exceed the 101,239 places available in the 847 hotels in the province, which range from simple hostels to very luxurious establishments.
The president of the Association of Tourist Properties in Andalucía, Carlos Pérez-Lanzac, says he is “hugely surprised” by the proposal from Rincón town hall. “There have been resolutions from the Andalusian Agency in Defence of Competition, which is part of the Junta, and the National Commission for Markets and Competition, which say that this type of regulation contravenes the rights of property owners,” he says. “And the measures put into effect in Mallorca are already resulting in less business for other sectors such as taxis and restaurants. Prohibition is always the most radical option; it should be a last resort”.