surinenglish

Law change makes it easier for neighbours to veto tourist rentals in their communities

Tourists in Malaga's Calle Larios.
Tourists in Malaga's Calle Larios. / SUR
  • The new voting rules brought in to control the effects of the rise in Airbnb-style rentals have satisfied neither side

An urgent reform to the law was approved last week to make it easier for residents in communities of flats or houses to block their neighbours from renting out their homes over platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com.

Up to now, the 'comunidad' of owners had to unanimously agree that tourist rentals were not welcome. Now a vote by three fifths of individual owners and three fifths by the weighted share of their community fees is enough to stop a property receiving holidaymakers.

The change is not retrospective, meaning owners who already rent out this way can continue to do so, however a further change has removed tourist rentals from national rental law and redefined it as a business activity, which now makes it easier for the regional governments to control tourist rentals, in the same way they control hotels, and insist that owners register their Airbnb-style properties and meet certain minimum requirements.

When the measures were first mooted by the national government earlier this autumn, there was a surge in local owners registering their properties to legitimise their position ahead of any change.

The new rules had been called for by both the tourist sector and residents' associations in many towns and cities after the large increase in numbers letting out their homes over the internet in the last few years, sometimes not meeting standards or forcing rental prices up for long-term local residents.

Among other measures in the law change, owners will also be able to agree special community-fee rates for properties being let out to holidaymakers.

However the new rules haven't fully satisfied either side of the debate over tourist rentals. The president of the Andalucía association of tourist properties, Carlos Pérez-Lanzac, said that the percentage required in a vote should have been 75% and not 60%, although he agreed with the right for different fees to be charged when a property in rented out to tourists.

However he stressed that other non-residential uses for homes should be subject to the same neighbours' voting restrictions, not just the holiday rental industry.

The president of the Malaga association of property managers, Alejandro Pestaña, praised the step taken by the government but said that "perhaps it has come too late" for places like Malaga city centre that have been affected by the surge in tourist rental properties.