A building in Barcelona with more than a dozen tourist flats for rent. R. C.
Spanish government clamps down on unlicensed tourist rental adverts on booking platforms such as Airbnb
Consumer affairs

Spanish government clamps down on unlicensed tourist rental adverts on booking platforms such as Airbnb

The department of consumer affairs in Spain is calling on local councils to help identify unlicensed properties more swiftly and then hit owners with fines of up to 100,000 euros

Edurne Martínez


Sunday, 30 June 2024, 21:48

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Central government in Spain is tackling the proliferation of illegal tourist rental properties across the country from several different angles in a bid to tighten its grip on them. Last Wednesday, the Minister of Housing, Isabel Rodríguez, announced that the government is studying the modification of the Horizontal Property Law to more effectively veto the proliferation of tourist flats in key city and major town districts. Then, the following day, the Ministry of Social Rights, led by Pablo Bustinduy, which includes the Consumer Affairs department, invited major town halls across the country to join its investigation into illegal tourist flats advertised on sites like Airbnb, according to ministry sources.

The trouble is that many tourist apartment rentals on the platforms are illegal. Madrid city council estimates that 90% of the advertisements for this type of flat in the capital are unlicensed. This is due to the serious problem of a lack of supply in residential housing that people are faced with, especially in the larger cities and this, in turn, is pushing up prices.

The minister explained that this situation "greatly affects the life of the cities, with people having to leave their neighbourhoods and businesses also getting involved." "We have to restrict this activity because it is out of control", condemned Bustinduy in an interview on Antena3.

The department of consumer affairs reported opening an investigation a few weeks ago aimed at illegal advertisements on these property rental booking platforms, with fines for the landlord that can reach 100,000 euros. Now this department has decided to contact the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) in writing to offer city and town halls throughout Spain the possibility of collaborating in this regard.

The minister concluded that "what cannot be done is doing nothing, as has been done until now", putting the focus on local knowledge within the councils themselves, who have more power to get to the bottom of the problem. In his opinion, it is necessary to "redirect" the situation and "prioritise the residential use of housing". "Beyond building public housing and allocating rental flats for social housing, which is also needed, we must act immediately and this is one of the ways", he argued.

The Ministry of Social Rights explained that the consumer affairs department "will place its powers at the disposal of local councils to identify dwellings that are advertised as tourist accommodation without the necessary permits." The aim is that, by working "jointly" between administrations, properties that are not authorised to operate as tourist accommodation can be identified more quickly.

Website requirements

This action comes after the department of consumer affairs formally sent requests to the tourist rental websites to obtain information on which properties were committing this infringement. Such investigations "could be intensified" now with the information that councils can provide.

In its letter to the FEMP, Consumer Affairs highlights the "important impact on the city model" that tourist housing has and "the necessary collaboration that must exist between the different administrations" in order to guarantee that consumer rights are fully met, as well as to ensure that only legal competition can operate in a sector "that has a profound impact on the habitability of cities."

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