A regional law passed on the quiet by decree in May last year has left owners of some tourist apartments in the Canaries vulnerable to exploitation by speculative operators, says Teresa Cárdenes, writing for Canariasahora.
A tourist law passed by decree 10 days before the regional elections in the Canary Islands last May has left “thousands of small owners of tourist apartments in the Canaries hostage to speculators who take advantage of them to monopolise lettings in exchange for risible rents, or get their homes for peanuts,” says Cárdenes (see article Un decreto turístico convierte a miles de pequeños propietarios de Canarias en carnaza para los especuladores).
The decree prevents owners of tourist apartments (apartamentos turísticos) and bungalows in some tourist complexes from enjoying their own homes for personal use, and forces them to cede the rental management to one operator for the whole complex. Owners who refuse can be forced to sell to the operator at a price determined by the latter, and also face fines of up to €300,000.
The decree has led to a citizens action group called the Plataforma de Afectados por la Ley Turística (PALT), which translates as platform for people affected by the tourist law, set up to overturn the decree (see Facebook page). “They didn’t count on the fact that people in the Canaries know how to read and interpret laws,” says Maribe Doreste, Vicepresident of the PALT, with bitter sarcasm. “Everything we have inherited from our parents and plan to leave to our children is in danger. And the damage is already done, because thanks to these laws our properties currently have zero value.”
In practise, the decree “crushes any hope of small investors to make a return from selling or renting their homes, along with the personal planes of thousands of Spanish citizens and foreigners who had bought apartments or bungalows to enjoy a happy retirement in the sunshine.”
The regional government is reportedly indifferent to the consequences for “thousands of small properties for which the market price has plunged at the same speed as vulture operators have descended to buy them at prices at times even below their cadastral value.” Appeals by the PALT to meet with the regional authorities have so far fallen on deaf ears.