The Autonomous Region of Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid) is working on new regulations for holiday rentals, but nothing as restrictive as Barcelona, revealed a recent parliamentary exchange between Cristina Cifuentes, President of the regional government, and Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, from the hard left Podemos party in opposition.
Cifuentes said new regulations are necessary to ensure that tourists get “all the guarantees” when staying in holiday-rental accommodation, but rejected the need to ban the activity all together, impose a tourist tax, or prohibit the opening of new hotels in the city, as has happened in Barcelona.
Ruiz-Huerta accused the regional government, run by Cifuentes and the centre right Partido Popular, of abandoning its responsibilities. “Tourism for you means attracting more and more tourists to city districts, some of which are now more saturated than Barcelona,” she said.
The lack of regulation is “encouraging an increase in rental prices,” said Ruiz-Huerta, making Madrid an “irresistible” destination for “speculators” and “encouraging big investment funds to enter the market.” All of which is gentrifying districts, “driving out locals” from their neighbourhoods, and “destroying traditional business.” Rental prices in Madrid have gone up in some districts by as much as 14.4%, she claimed.
In response Cifuentes said her government has no plans to “fight against tourism” although she said new regulations are necessary. “We will never go after the [tourist rental] activity by encouraging neighbours to inform on others like they are doing in Barcelona, nor prohibit new hotels like they have in Barcelona and you want to do in Madrid. Neither are we going to impose a tourist tax to punish citizens yet again.”
Just recently the Spanish hard-left like Podemos and others have been getting very bothered about ‘gentrification’ and ‘speculators’ in areas where the housing market is recovering after almost a decade in crisis. I guess it’s just another sign of recovery.
In recent weeks I’ve seen similar reports in Barcelona and the Balearics, where the left want more regulations to discourage investors, and well-off types moving in next door. But it seems to me that regulations in Spain, especially planning laws, are often so badly conceived and poorly drafted they encourage speculation, corruption, and boom and bust. Who’s to blame for that?