The Regional Government of Catalonia has announced draft changes to holiday rental regulations allowing people to rent out rooms to tourists, whilst in Barcelona there is talk of pressuring landlords to offer social housing rentals if they are caught renting illegally to tourists.
CHANGES AT A REGIONAL LEVEL
The Generalitat – or regional government of Catalonia – has presented draft new regulations for tourist accommodation, including, for the first time, a category that enables homeowners to rent out rooms to tourists. The draft regulations now pass to a period of public consultation before becoming laws governing the rental of property in Catalonia.
“We want to organise what we offer tourists to avoid the black economy, and situations that leave consumers with no protection and degrade what we have to offer,” explained Felip Puig, the regional councillor responsible for Business and Employment.
Allowing homeowners to rent rooms to tourists is a novelty for Catalonia, but the draft regulations also restrict the activity to people who are officially resident in the property, and to a maximum of two rooms for four months. So second-home owners won’t be able to rent out rooms to tourists all year round.
The draft regulations also envisage increasing the tourist tax per person to 0.65 €/person/night in Barcelona, and 0.45 €/person/night in the rest of Catalonia. The tourist tax has to be collected and paid whatever the kind of accommodation.
BARCELONA TOURIST RENTALS
Ada Colau, the new mayor of Barcelona, formerly the leader of an activist group against home repossessions, has suggested she wants to pressurise landlords who are caught engaging in holiday rentals without a licence into offering social housing rentals instead.
Talking of a “room crisis” in Barcelona, Colau says the City Hall needs to be proactive in solving the housing crisis, for example, by offering landlords who have been caught renting to tourist without a licence the chance to escape a fine if they turn to social housing rentals instead.
“There are lots of flats not offered for rent because people have such great expectations from tourism, and people think “If I can make more money from tourists without problems and little risk of an inspection…I’m going to make money the easy way and not offer my flat for [long term] rent,” Colau recently told the local press.
“We estimate there could be as many as three times the number of tourist rentals [than registered],” she said.
One of her first acts as Mayor was to suspend new tourist activity licences of all types, including hotels, for a year. That was a controversial decision in a city that where tourism is a big part of the economy.
Barcelona City Hall will soon start working on new regulations for tourism and property rental in Barcelona.