The draft tourist law currently on the table introduces a raft of new measures to clamp down on holiday rentals in the Balearic Islands, according to Spanish press reports.
The background to this is a chronic shortage of housing in the Balearics, where tourist demand for accommodation is one of the factors driving up rental prices and making housing unaffordable for locals, especially lower paid workers who do all the menial jobs without which the tourist business would suffer.
The Balearic regional government, or Govern, currently run by a coalition of leftwing parties, has made housing affordability a key priority, which it plans to achieve in part by restricting the freedom of owners to rent their homes to tourists in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. No doubt the regional hotel lobby is pleased about this.
Proposed measures to restrict holiday-rentals in the Balearics include: 1) Owners of apartments will have to get permission from their Community of Owners before they can get a tourist rental licence. 2) Restricting holiday-rentals to specific ‘tourist’ areas. 3) Licences will only be granted to properties in buildings that are 10 years old or more. 4) There will be a fixed number of licences for each island, and no new licences will be issued once they are all taken, though licences can be bought and sold. 5) Licences will have to be renewed every five years. 6) No licences will be granted to properties on protected rural land. 7) Maximum penalties will be raised to between €20,000 to €40,000.
Holiday-rental regulations in the Balearics have long been a source of confusion. Back in September 2007 I wrote this article for the Sunday Times explaining that permits were required for holiday-rental apartments in the Balearics, and that no permits were being granted, though there were differences in implementation between the islands, and even official sources admitted they were confused. Will Besga, a lawyer in Mallorca, has argued in various articles published here that you can rent to whoever you like so long as you are careful not to offer tourist-like services. This new draft law implies that new licences will be granted under certain conditions, and it will be legal to rent apartments to tourists if those conditions are met. In the meantime, thousands of apartments will be rented illegally to tourists this year, as they always have been.