Property owners registering for holiday rentals in Catalonia

Beach-front holiday rental on the Costa Brava

Beach-front rental on the Costa Brava

Holiday lettings in Catalonia will soon be controlled by restrictive local laws, as the Government in Madrid moves to devolve the regulation of holiday rentals to Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

The national Government in Madrid is changing the national tenancy act (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos) to devolve the regulation of holiday rentals to regional governments, where powerful local hotel lobbies are eager to put the cosh on competition from private landlords. Holiday-home owners in Catalonia, as elsewhere, will have to bone up on local laws to avoid fines for engaging in illegal holiday rentals.

In Catalonia, tourist rentals are covered by decree 159/2012 of December 2012. This distinguishes between tourist apartments (apartamentos turísitcos) and homes used by tourists (viviendas de uso turístico).

Tourist apartments in Catalonia (apartamentos turísticos)

Tourist apartments are defined as a building or continuous group of buildings made up entirely of apartments or studios offered with tourist services, and managed by a professional service provider. That means the whole building or complex must be dedicated to tourist rentals, with tourist support services in place like reception, cleaning, and change-over. These complexes tend to be built as tourist apartments, and are regulated by specific laws. They will not affected by the change in the national tenancy law.

Tourist use homes (viviendas de uso turístico)

Homes used by tourists are defined as private properties that are regularly rented out by their owners, directly or indirectly, to tourists on a seasonal basis. That means private homes, detached or otherwise, which owners rent out to tourists, providing no services other than cleaning.

Viviendas de uso turístico, which are far more common than apartamentos turísticos, are affected by the change in the law. When the new law comes into force, owners will no longer have their right to engage in tourist rentals guaranteed by national law. So henceforth, holiday-lettings will be regulated by Catalan laws.

Holiday-rental regulations in Catalonia

It is not easy to comply with holiday-rental regulations in Catalonia:


  • Registered with the town hall as a tourist use property
  • Occupancy licence (cédula de habitabilidad), and never exceed the number of tenants allowed by that licence.
  • Comply with health and safety laws
  • Adequately furnished
  • Provide a contact number in case of problems
  • Issue clients with invoices including VAT at 10pc. The invoice should detail the owner, the identity of clients, the number of guests, arrival and departure dates, the cost per night and taxes charged.
  • Charge clients the new tourist tax (since 01/11/12)
  • Make available an official complaints form to clients
  • Inform the police of all stays within 24 hours of arrival by fax or email (or in person at the police station)


  • You are not allowed to rent out just rooms
  • Stays of more than 31 days are not considered tourist rentals
  • No one can be registered as living in the property (empadronado), which means just second homes

How to register a holiday-rental in Catalonia?

1. Inform your town hall before renting with a document covering: Owner details, details of the property and max capacity, contact tel for problems, details of property management company and declaration that has occupancy licence. Get the form from your town hall.
2. Once approved by town hall, register tourist rental with Office of Business Management (Oficina de Gestión Empresarial). Some town halls do this automatically, in others the owner has to deliver the documentation.

More info from the Government of Catalonia website (in Spanish)