Balearics on the road to turning old hotels into homes

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Balearic politicians agree on conditions to convert old hotels into homes to address the archipelago’s housing crisis, but with strings attached, and not in Minorca

There aren’t enough homes in the Balearics to ensure that everyone enjoys their constitutional right to ‘dignified housing’ at a price they can afford, so the regional government is looking at ways to expand the supply of housing. One way to do that is to repurpose old hotels, many of which are in prime tourist areas.

The Balearic parliament is debating amendments to a new Tourism Law the regional government introduced by decree. The local press reports that the leftwing parties of the regional coalition government have agreed conditions to convert old hotels into homes with the regional hotel federation and trade unions, so it looks like enough groups are on board to turn the proposals into reality.

The agreed amendments allow one and two star hotels and ‘obsolete’ establishments to be converted into homes if 50% of the units are offered as affordable housing (Officially Protected Housing, or VPO), none of them are  used for tourist rentals, and any hotel staff laid off are found new jobs. Land zoned for tourism and can also be rezoned for housing if 30% of the resulting units are ring-fenced for affordable housing.

Is it possible to meet the minimum investment rate hurdle on a hotel-to-housing reconversion with 50% ring-fenced for social housing and employment guarantees for hotel staff? It doesn’t sound easy. If it’s not possible, nobody will do it.

No hotel to home conversion in Minorca

Minorca is having none of it. The party Més per Menorca (More for Minorca) has negotiated an exemption with Palma so that reconversion of hotels into homes is not allowed on the island. Més per Menorca say the measure is designed just “ to save the profits of hoteliers and landowners.” Més argue the measure will create “housing ghettos in tourist zones without the necessary basic public services to live with dignity,” and “tourist zones with a year-round population like in Mallorca,” which they see as a bad thing.

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