A tourist pulls her suitcase through the streets of Madrid. Óscar Chamorro
Only 1,000 of the 13,500 tourist flats for rent in Madrid are fully licensed

Only 1,000 of the 13,500 tourist flats for rent in Madrid are fully licensed

As of last February, Spain had more than 350,000 tourist rental homes providing a total of 1.75 million beds according to the INE national statistics institute's preliminary statistics

Amparo Estrada


Friday, 24 May 2024, 17:15


In Spain's capital city of Madrid there are 13,500 flats for short-term tourist lets, but only 1,000 are legal, according to data published on the council's website that has a list of all the tourist flats (VUTs) that have an urban planning licence.

The proliferation of flats solely for tourist lets is pushing up the price of rentals in general and the prices asked for properties on sale, thereby driving residents out of the centre of the larger cities. As of last February, Spain had more than 350,000 tourist rental homes according to the INE national statistics institute's preliminary statistics that it only began collating in 2020. These properties provided 1.75 million beds, almost as many as the 1.9 million total in hotel beds available throughout Spain.

The added problem is that most of them are not properly registered and have no licence to operate as such. Madrid council plans to modify their current Accommodation Plan and to issue a new regulation regarding tourist accommodation, although modification of the general plan will not be approved at a full council plenary session until next year.

Until then the council intends to suspend issuing licences for VUTs for residential use as well as licences for change of use from commercial to residential in the business quarter of central (Centro) district. Licences will also be suspended for VUTs in buildings other than residential buildings that are located on the ground floor. This is being used as a precautionary measure before the future development of any VUTs is defined.

Moreover, the council will toughen sanctions for licence breaches, currently ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 euros in fines for those operating illegally. The penalty will be increased to between 30,000 and 100,000 euros. Penalties are also cumulative in the event of continued violations of the law.

Another line of action will consist of reinforcing the properties inspectorate. The Subdirectorate General for Inspection and Discipline currently has 65 staff carrying out all inspection activity. This summer, the council will increase staffing by 1%, adding ten more people to the service.


The Inspection council received 51% more complaints in 2023 than in 2022 concerning houses and flats for tourist use: 686 compared to 454. Of those complaints 82% came from members of the public (563) and, of the total number of inspections carried out (4,093), 478 properties were found to be being rented as VUTs and 243 were restored to residential use.

There are 14,699 business establishments for tourist lodgings operating in the city: 92% are properties for tourists (13,502), but over 92% of those 13.5k are illegal (unlicensed). In terms of beds offered in all types of tourist accommodation, the total stands at 158,756 beds, of which 30% are in VUTs (47,589). The rest are spread across 320 hotels, 473 B&B and hostels, 130 tourist flats, 14 hotel-apartments and 260 other types of lodgings (e.g. guesthouses).

VUTs have increased in Madrid by 41% since 2017. During this period 5,564 new tourist lets have appeared, but only 50 general tourist lodgings (hotels, guesthouses, hostels...) have opened for business, meaning that 65% of all new accommodation created for tourists in these last six years corresponds to VUTs.

In the central district there is one tourist for every two residents, while in the wider centre to the city - an almond-shaped area surrounded by the M-30 ring road - there is one tourist for every nine residents.

Of the 1,000 VUTs operating with a licence, 15.67% are located in the Centro district (158), 13.69% (138) in Tetuán, 11.4% (115) in Arganzuela, 10% (101) in Chamartín, 7.83% (79) in Salamanca, 6.25% (63) in Ciudad Lineal, 5.55% (56) in Carabanchel, 5.15% (52) in Chamberí, and 4.06% (41) in Puente de Vallecas, according to data from the council's department responsible for urban planning. As for the rest: 3.57% (36) are located in Retiro, 3.47% (35) in Fuencarral-El Pardo, 3.37% (34) in Latina, 2.87% (29) in Usera, 2.18% (22) in Moncloa-Aravaca, 1.68% (17) in Hortaleza, 1.09% (11) in Fuencarral-El Pardo, 1.68% (17) in Hortaleza, 1.09% (11) in Moratalaz, 0.59% in San Blas-Canillejas (6), 0.49% (5) in Barajas, 0.39% (4) in Villaverde, 0.29% (3) in Vicálvaro and the same percentage (3) in Villa de Vallecas.

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