The drive to regulate short-term tourist rentals in Barcelona’s popular Old Town Gothic Quarter (Ciutat Vella) is starting to show results. 474 tourist rental apartments have been shut down since April last year, leaving 424 “illegal” flats still in operation, reports the Spanish press.
In the past, many of the short-term tourist lettings in Barcelona were illegal, which increased the irritation of angry neighbours disturbed by noisy tourists staying in their buildings. The outcry prompted a drive by the authorities to clamp down on tourist rentals in the Old Town. Many of the apartments illegally rented to tourists belong to foreign investors in Barcelona property.
With help from neighbours, town hall officials and officers from the municipal police (Guardia Urbana) identified close to 900 illegal tourist apartments in the Gothic Quarter. 474 have now shut down, 154 of them voluntarily.
There are a total of 683 flats with licences in the Old Town that can be legally rented to tourists on short breaks. No new licences have been granted since 2005.
The Spanish tax authorities are reported to have taken an interest in the investigation, as few, if any, of the owners of illegally-rented properties declared their income and paid their taxes.