Paris victory over holiday-rentals paves the way for Spanish cities to regulate the short-stay market

barcelona holiday rental flat
Barcelona holiday rental. Photo credit: OK – Apartment / Foter / CC BY

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Parisien restrictions on holiday-rentals in areas with a housing problem are justified, with implications for all other tourist destinations in Europe, especially Spain.

The French law says that in municipalities of 200,000 inhabitants or more, and in certain districts in the Paris area, any change of use from long term rental needs official permission.

Parisien regulations under French law restricting tourist lettings in certain areas do not fall foul of internal market rules, and they are justified by the public interest of housing access, finds the ECJ.

“National legislation making the repeated short-term letting of accommodation to a transient clientele which does not take up residence there subject to authorisation is consistent with EU law,” explains the press release issued by the ECJ.

“Combating the long-term rental housing shortage constitutes an overriding reason relating to the public interest justifying such legislation,” it goes on to say.

The Court noted, first, that the “legislation in question is intended to establish a mechanism for combating the long-term rental housing shortage, the objective of which is to deal with the worsening conditions for access to housing and the exacerbation of tensions on the property markets, which constitutes an overriding reason relating to the public interest.

Second, the Court found that the national legislation concerned is proportionate to the objective pursued.

And third, the Court concluded that Parisien restrictions were the only way to “put an immediate and effective end to the rapid conversion trend which is creating a long-term rental housing shortage.”

The case came about when two owners of studios on the outskirts of Paris repeatedly flaunted the regulations, leading to a legal battle with Paris city hall, which ended up in the ECJ.

So there you have it. There is no EU regulation for holiday rental owners to hide behind when it comes to short-stay rentals in areas where there is a shortage of housing. The public interest of affordable housing overrides the right of owners to rent to whomever they like.

The authorities in Spanish cities like Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, where there is an acute shortage of housing, will be delighted to see the way paved to cracking down on holiday rentals however they like, as owners will no longer bother taking it up to the ECJ. That battle is lost.

In cities like Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, where the housing shortage is caused as much by terrible town planning and political stupidity, it’s irksome to see politicians laying all the blame for their bad government at the feet of holiday rentals.

You can read the full press release here.

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