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Two tourists, next to the entrance of a tourist apartment in the centre of Barcelona. Eva Parey
Barcelona plans to eliminate all tourist rental properties by November 2028
Property

Barcelona plans to eliminate all tourist rental properties by November 2028

The city council has announced the shock move not to renew 10,100 regulated tourist apartment licences, with the aim of controlling soaring rental prices which is driving locals out of the city

Cristian Reino / Amparo Estrada

Barcelona / Madrid

Monday, 24 June 2024, 11:13

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Barcelona plans to ban apartment rentals to tourists by 2028 in a shock move which aims to control soaring housing prices and make the city more liveable for its residents.

The city council, led by the Socialist party, wants to convert the tourist flats into residential use, under the proposal which still needs to be approved by the rest of ciity hall and by Generalitat regional government, which regulates tourist housing. The Socialists will need the votes of at least ERC and the Comunes political parties to push it through.

"The city cannot afford such a high number of tourist flats in a context in which the difficulty of access to housing and the negative effects of tourist overcrowding are evident and shared across the city," the mayor said. Barcelona initially showed its intention to eliminate tourist flats from the areas most saturated with them, such as the entire historic city centre, but now it intends to extend the plan across the entire municipality, one of the most touristic in Europe.

The licences held by the 10,100 regulated tourist flats in the city will expire in November 2028 and this housing stock would either need to be sold or rented for residential purposes. The city council will not renew these licences and is hiding behind a regional law approved by the Catalan government which establishes that the maximum period for licences is five years.

Driving people out of Barcelona

It comes amid soaring rental prices which is driving people out of Barcelona. In 10 years, rents have risen by 70%. "We cannot allow the majority of young people who want to leave their homes to have to leave Barcelona," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, the employers' association of tourist flats criticised the council's move and said it will lead to an increase in illegal flats and reduce family tourism in the city. "The government has decided to go all the way," said Collboni, who pointed out the Generalitat's decree requires municipalities to draw up an urban development plan within five years of December 2023 which establishes how many tourist flats they will accept.

The law establishes that in municipalities with problems of access to permanent housing or that already have more than five tourist flats per 100 inhabitants, tourist activity is only compatible with residential use if it is expressly permitted by urban planning, as long as it is justified that there is sufficient land for the permanent residential use of locals.

Given that Barcelona is one of the municipalities identified in the decree as having problems of access to housing, the local government plans not to promote any urban planning that declares the tourist use of housing to be compatible with that of a permanent and habitual residence. What the city council wants to apply is not to establish how many flats the city allows, but to scrap the licences in November 2028 and update the urban accommodation plan, so the category of tourist flats disappears.

Put 10,000 homes on the rental market

"This will allow us to put 10,000 homes on the rental market or for sale, or simply to give them the residential use they should never have lost. It's like building 10,000 new homes in the city in just five years," said deputy mayor Laia Bonet.

Councillor Damià Calvet said: "They are good intentions that are not based either on legality or on the regulation of tourist housing itself". Calvet pointed out that half of the tourist licences in the city do not operate and that if the measures are misguided or have no legislative basis, it will aggravate the housing problem in Barcelona.

Minister of tourism Jordi Hereu said: "Putting order in the supply of tourist flats is the first step to govern the negative effects it can have. That is why we support the initiatives that lead us towards the model we want".

Bank of Spain

Bank of Spain deputy governor Margarita Delgado said it is "good" to act on the supply of rental housing and add more properties on the market, when asked about Barcelona city council's plan. She pointed out that "increasing the supply is fundamental" in order to have an impact on the housing market.

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