Neighbours could get a veto on property owners renting to tourists in their blocks

Apartments in historic city centres form part of the boom.
Apartments in historic city centres form part of the boom. / SUR
  • A big surge has been reported in owners trying to officially register their properties this week as possible law changes are discussed nationally

The Junta de Andalucía regional government has reported a surge in people asking to officially register property for tourist rentals in the last few days. The rise is being explained as a reaction to the national government's proposals to make it easier for property owners in blocks or housing complexes to stop their neighbours from renting out on platforms such as Airbnb.

The regional Tourism ministry has reported that since Monday the average number of requests to be logged on the official regional register of tourist accommodation, a legal requirement that many owners have still failed to carry out, has shot up from an average of 35 a day to 80.

A new 60 per cent rule

On Monday the national government said that it was discussing with a working group the possibility of changing the law so that if 60 per cent vote at a meeting of owners (comunidad de propietarios) against allowing short term tourism rentals in their community, then owners will be forced to take them off the booking platforms. The reform would be to the horizontal property law (Ley de Propiedad Horizontal) that regulates shared developments, such as blocks of flats or housing complexes, in Spain. It would reduce the number of residents' votes required to approve a change in community rules.

The significant rise of self-catering accommodation in private homes has been an increasing source of discontent for the last few years in many shared developments, as owners seek extra income by renting out spare rooms. Normal occupants have been increasingly complaining about noise from tourists in their blocks as well as the rises in rent.

The surge in new registrations on the Junta's register is being put down to people wanting to avoid a possible law change, although the Junta has said it's still not clear registering now will make any difference. Some people were reported to be registering property this week even if they don't plan to rent out in the short term.

The slow process to get owners of self-catering in private property to register has already seen a surge in interest this summer in Andalucía with the announcement by Airbnb that it will only allow listings of properties that display an official regional registration number.

Big surge in historic cities

In the case of Andalucía, Malaga province, including the Costa del Sol, has the majority of private home rentals, with over 25,000 properties and with space for almost 130,000 people. 23,000 of these spaces are in Malaga city. This number has increased significantly in recent years, echoing a trend across all historic cities that has led to residents' complaints that they are being driven out of their neighbourhoods.

The working group that is discussing the law reform among other ideas has been brought together by the national Tourism ministry. It is looking at ways to achieve a balance between the demand for tourism rentals and the needs of local residents, especially as Spain has seen a slight downturn in foreign tourists this year.

More ideas considered

The latest move comes on top of government proposals to change national planning law so that the regional governments can have more regulatory control over the renting out of private homes and adapt to local conditions. Currently the regions control tourism regulation but not short-term property lets regulation

The national government is also considering one nationwide register of tourism property and a live record of who is staying inside them using new technology. It would also serve to ensure taxes are being paid on the income received.

Regional governments have until 2 October to give their feedback to Madrid on the list of proposals.