Tourist flat rentals in Spain: the 'boom' after the pandemic

Tourist flat rentals in Spain: the 'boom' after the pandemic


Some areas have 30 per cent more tourist homes than before Covid-19, such as the archipelagos and the coast, inland and northern regions

Edurne Martínez | Sara I. Belled


Thursday, 16 March 2023, 08:49


The explosion of tourist accommodation is pushing up the prices of conventional rentals and although the regional and municipal governments are trying to put a stop to it, the problem can not be solved with the current Spanish legislation. Data from the national statistics institute (INE) reveals that in Spain there are more than 311,500 tourist homes (August 2022, latest available data), with 1.56 million beds available. With the pandemic, the proliferation of this type of accommodation was reduced and more than 16,800 left the market, but in 2022 the percentage increased again.

The INE data, estimated from the information available on the three most widely used tourist accommodation platforms, reveal that 61% of all municipalities in Spain have tourist accommodation, with some areas much more affected than others. In 70 of the 8,115 Spanish municipalities analysed, at least 10% of the total dwellings are for tourist use (compared to the 2011 census of dwellings), while 3,000 have none in their territory, most of them in areas of rural, inland, Spain.

The problem is those 70 municipalities where tourist housing represents a high percentage of the total, nine of them above 20%. The four areas with the highest figures are Sales de Llierca (Girona), La Oliva (island of Fuerteventura), Búger (Mallorca) and Ariany (Mallorca), where at least one out of every four dwellings registered is for tourism. It is noteworthy that three of these four municipalities are on the islands.

Local council initiatives

Given this situation, some local councils are taking the initiative. In addition to the Balearic regional government's decision in 2018 to ban tourist flats in Palma – something that has just been backed by the Supreme Court –, Valencia has also restricted tourist flats in the city centre, the Junta de Andalucía has amended a decree to enable its municipalities to limit tourist housing, and Toledo council has just announced that it will put a limit on these accommodations and will only allow them to be on ground and first floors within the historic centre.

"Tourist homes are very profitable for their owners, but they depersonalise city centres, take away the identity of neighbourhoods and generate social problems," explained José Luis Zoreda, executive vice-president of Exceltur, the tourism employers' association.

Faced with soaring house prices in Canada, Justin Trudeau's government decided on 1 January to ban foreigners from buying property in the country. The country has suffered an average increase of 44% in the last two years, with the cities of Vancouver and Toronto being the most affected. The provision, which will be in force for two years and will fine foreigners who buy as well as those who assist in the transaction up to 7,000 euros, will not affect permanent residents in the country or foreign students, work permit holders and asylum seekers.

The initiative, passed in the Canadian Parliament last June, is similar to one passed in New Zealand that has been in force since August 2018 with the same objective. "Housing should not just be property. It is meant to be lived in: a place where families can put down roots, create memories and build a life together," said Ahmed Hussen, Canada's federal minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion, in a statement.


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