EDITOR’S NOTE: Many people buy a second home in Spain with the idea of renting it out when they are not using it, but are confused by the patchwork of regional regulations governing short-term rentals to tourists. Rental-expert Louise Brace makes it easier to understand what is going on with this summary of the latest situation in each region.
By Louise Brace of Rental Tonic
First published in July 2018, updated in May 2020
According to the Tourist Movement on Borders agency, Frontur, Spain received 13.7 million international visitors during the first quarter of 2018, a 6% increase on 2017 figures. With 1.4 million visitors choosing to stay in holiday rental accommodation, a healthy increase of 7% year-on-year, and that’s just the official figures. Taking into account that many short stay homes remain unregistered in Spain, we expect the actual figure to be much higher.
It’s been five years since the Spanish government excluded holiday rentals from the LAU (Ley Arrendamientos Urbano) and delegated the task of regulating the industry to its 17 regional governments. There are only a couple of the 17 autonomous communities that as yet haven’t regulated holiday rental accommodation. Find out the latest status in your region.
ANDALUSIA holiday rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 28/2016
Since: May 2016
Essentials: Free Wifi, can offer single room occupancy as long as owner lives on site during a guest stay, will need First Occupation Licence or similar (Cédula de Antiguedad / Habilitibiliad)
In January 2019, Malaga City Council approved a tax charge which will be applied to properties in the capital. There will be four types based on size of accommodation, and will be charged as an ‘industrial rubbish (basura) tax.
Granada has proposed a ban of city centre rentals.
Seville is proposing to split the city into four tourist zones.
Points to watch out for:
Since July 1st 2018 most booking sites no longer allow unregistered properties to advertise.
If you have registered without a First Occupation Licence and not applied for one, you could be fined up to 2,000 €.
Properties in a rural location (village with less than 20,000 inhabitants) who previously fell outside of the regulation for rural properties can now register as a VFT (Vivienda con Fines Turísticas)
Owners and agents with three plus properties must register as ‘Apartamento Turístico’. Stricter regulations are applied.
Meanwhile, Granada is seeking to introduce a limit on the number of holiday rentals in the city centre. And Seville is planning to introduce tourist zones, which will again reduce the number of holiday rentals in the city centre. Both of these are under discussion, no dates are given for the introduction.
To register your property: Complete a declaración responsable (application form) and submit to your local town hall or nearest tourism department. You can submit online if you have an electronic signature.
Documents required: ID document, and First Occupation Licence
ARAGON short-stay accommodation laws
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 80/15
Since: May 2015
Essentials: Maximum stay 1 month, single-room occupancy not permitted, fully equipped and furnished, advertised through a tourist channel.
Points to watch out for: Owners and agents with properties in the same building must register as ‘Apartamento Turístico’. Stricter regulations are applied. Rural properties (casas rurales) are not covered under this decree.
To register your property: Complete the declaración responsable (application) and submit to a regional tourism department. Once you are registered you must display a plaque outside the property. Further information can be found on the Aragon government website.
ASTURIAS tourist letting regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto/34 2003
Since: April 2003
Note: There is some discrepancy between the different provinces and municipalities within Asturias. For example: Oviedo tried to stipulate that properties located higher than a first floor apartment could not register. Check with your local council to find out if there are any unique stipulations which may affect your registration.
Essentials: Properties classified as Viviendas Vacacionales or Casas de Aldea (properties located in rural areas), your property must be available during July, August and September, to be able to offer during other periods of the year
Points to watch out for: Apartments in multifamily buildings are not regulated. register as ‘Apartamento Turístico’. Stricter regulations are applied.
To register your property: Registro de Empresas y Actividades Turísticas
Balearic islands holiday-rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 20/2015 (amended version)
Note: There has been a freeze on new registrations since 2018 whilst measures are put in place to control the accommodation industry on the island.
Short-term rental apartments are banned in the city of Palma, Mallorca. Only stand alone residences, properties located in industrial areas (close to airport) and rural properties may offer tourist accommodation.
Essentials: Only owners with a Spanish residency may apply, classified as residential property for 5 years or more, liability insurance must be taken out. Maximum 3 properties per owner.
Points to watch out for: Owners must renew the licence every 5 years, maximum 30 day rental stay. And a maximum 60 day rental period in total.
BASQUE COUNTRY holiday rental laws
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 13/2016
Since: April 2013, amended in 2016
Note: May 2018: The Basque government proposed amendments to the current regulations in May 2018, which if passed will give owners 6 months to update their properties or lose their licence. They have also introduced a top limit on properties that can register, ensuring that no more than 15% of the cities rentals are for short-term business.
January 2019: The Basque government approved changes to the decree which put into effect a model similar to that of Barcelona:
In San Sebastian rentals will be limited in the city centre. There are three proposed areas which will determine whether you can apply for a licence or not.
In Bilbao only properties on the ground or first floor can operate as a tourist rental and only one property per building.
Essentials: Single-room occupancy is permitted (in properties of 2 bedrooms or more), maximum 12 guests/6 bedrooms. When a property is rented as a whole it must comprise of at least a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Each province has its own specific technical criteria i.e. m2 per guest.
Points to watch out for: A plaque must be visible on the exterior of your property with your licence details.You must have a liability insurance policy in place.
To register your property: Tourist Business and Accommodation Register
Note: The regional government is in the process of updating its Tourism Act and regulations will be updated.
CANARY ISLANDS holiday rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 113/2015
Since: May 2015
Note: In May 2018 a new draft decree was published which denies holiday rentals the right of activity in certain designated tourist zones. It does allow local councils to work with exceptions, but evidently the draft has been met with consternation by owners and the Canary Island association, ASCAV.
Essentials: Single-room occupancy is not permitted, guest details must be logged with the police and a 24 hour contact number supplied.
Points to watch out for: Rentals situated within a residential community need agreement from the community to go ahead. Single room occupancy is not permitted.
To register your property: Present your Declaration of Responsibility (Declaración de Responsabilidad) at your local or regional town hall (Cabildo Insular). The decree sets out the requirements.
CANTABRIA short-stay accommodation laws
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 19/2014
Since: March 2014
Note: A roundtable discussion took place in June 2018 to discuss the introduction of sanctions to owners who have not registered their rentals. The tourism minister also presented a new project which will launch an online reservation system for registered properties.
Essentials: No single room occupancy is permitted. Owners must also register the activity with the tax office (Hacienda) and Social Security.
Points to watch out for:Owners should also have public liability insurance in place to apply.
To register your property: Holiday rentals should register under the category Alojamiento Turistico Extra-hotelero (Non-hotel accommodation). Further information and application forms for registering your holiday rental in Cantabria.
CASTILLA-LA MANCHA holiday rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes, under the Decreto 36/2018
Since: May 2018
Essentials: Viviendas turísticas vacacionales (holiday rental homes) can only rent their property as a whole, single room occupation is not permitted. If you register your property for tourist use, you may not also offer as a long-term rental. Holiday rentals, as Tourist Apartments, must fix a plaque on the exterior wall to show their registration details. Information on local tourist attractions, services and amenities must be made available.
Points to watch out for: Holiday rental owners have one year, until 29th May 2019, to adapt and register their properties. Tourist Apartments have two years to do the same. IVA will be made applicable on tourist rental bookings, so owners must register their activity with the tax office.
To register your property: Present your declaración responsable (application) – which can be found at the end of the decree in the link above – together with your ID document, licence of first occupation, floor plans, and for properties situated within an urbanisation, a letter to confirm they allow holiday rentals.
CASTILE & LEON tourist rental laws
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 17/2017
Since: February 2017
Essentials: Any type of property can apply, but if you own two or more properties in one building, you must refer to Decreto 17/2015. The property must be offered fully furnished and advertised via a tourism channel, such as a listing site, print advert or rental agency.
Points to watch out for: You are not allowed to offer single-room occupation. Contact details must be provided to guests. You must not start rental activity until you are registered.
To register your property: Complete the declaración responsable and present in a local government office, such as the town hall or tourism department.
Documents: Identification, escritura (title deed), IBI receipt to show catastral reference.
CATALONIA holiday rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decret 159/2012
Since: November 2012
Essentials: Owners must take a copy of guest passports and all guest details must be logged with the police, your H.U.T. number should be included in all advertising, properties must have a first licence of occupation.
Points to watch out for: It’s free to register, but individual councils (ayuntamientos) may charge a procedural fee to register and you will need to pay (145 €) if you want your holiday rental quality graded
Barcelona City Council stopped issuing licences back in 2014 and have since shut down nearly 5000 properties which were operating illegally.
To register your property: Follow the link to the necessary application forms and FAQs for registering your holiday rental in Catalonia
Notes: Access is given to an online platform where you register every guest. In 2017 the Catalonia government started to crackdown on illegal rentals, issuing steep fines to owners. The city of Barcelona has doubled the number of inspectors on the streets in the hope of curbing unregistered accommodation. Access is given to an online platform where you register every guest, a tourist tax may be applied in the future.
EXTREMADURA holiday rental laws
Is it regulated? Tourist apartments are regulated, but the decree does not cover private holiday homes. However, a draft decree has been on the table since 2017.
GALICIA holiday rental regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the amended Decreto 12/2017
Since: March 2011
Note: A new tourism decree will be passed in January 2021 in which it is expected that will put a stricter model in place.
Essentials: There are two types of registration:
Vivienda Turística (VT) – detached properties, maximum 10 guests, maximum stay three months, single room occupation prohibited
Vivienda de Uso Turístico (VUT) – Fully equipped properties of all types, single room occupation permitted, maximum stay 30 days.
Points to watch out for: Guest data must be kept in case of inspection,
To register your property: Complete and submit the application online. You will need to register in the system to do that. For VT registered properties there is a tax to pay when you submit your application.
Documents required: ID document, Technical floor plan, proof of payment of current IBI, basura and utilities, escritura (title deed), First Occupation Licence, copy of liability insurance policy.
LA RIOJA short-stay accommodation regulations
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 10/2017
Since: May 2017
Essentials: Properties must be fully furnished
Points to watch out for: Must be offered for a minimum period of one week and rented for at least three months per year, and the rental price must be all inclusive. Single room occupation is not permitted. If your property is situated within a community you must check that holiday rentals are permitted within the community regulations.
To register your property: Fill out the declaración responsable and present online or at a town hall or tourism department office.
Documents required: Floor plans, ID document, copy of community regulations.
COMMUNITY OF MADRID holiday rental rules
Is it regulated? Yes under the Decreto 79/2014
Since: July 2014
The regional government ruled that holiday rentals in the capital could offer a minimum stay of five days. The average stay is four days, effectively excluding holiday rentals from city and weekend break market.
In 2019 the Madrid City Council approved a plan that effectively blocked 10,000 apartments (95%) from renting to short-term guests. Amongst the new regulations, an apartment situated within a residential building in the city centre must have a separate access area to the building i.e. guests may not use the main resident’s entrance.
Essentials: Single-room occupancy is not permitted, properties must offer free Wifi
Points to watch out for: Applications must presented together with with a floor plan, stamped by an architect or surveyor.
To register your property: Decree, July 2014 and application form to register your holiday rental in Madrid. Applications can also be presented at a post office.
Note: The CNMC (National Commission for Markets and Competition) have stepped in, alleging the situation in the capital makes it impossible for owners to compete against hotels. No action has yet been taken to change the situation.
REGION OF MURCIA holiday rental laws
Is it regulated? Yes
Since: April 2011
Note: A new regulation was introduced in 2019, Decreto 256/2019 which relates to single home and room by room occupation.
The updated decree states that there must be a person responsible for the property available during a guest stay, with their number to hand within the accommodation. They must also have a visible sign outside the property displaying their status as tourist accommodation and their licence number, and they must take out civil liability insurance.
Essentials: Hot and cold running water, electricity and lighting, cleaning before check-in, fresh bedding at least once a week, TV and refuge containers.
Points to watch out for: Owners must hold a register of guest information. Advertising copy must state the type of accommodation offered.
To register your property: Fill out the application form and present at a town hall or tourism department office. Your property will then appear on the regional tourism register for Murcia. You can start advertising your property straight away.
VALENCIAN COMMUNITY holiday rental laws
Since: July 2009, with the last amendment in May 2015
Essentials: Owners must wait until they have registered to start rental activity, and have to start renting within two months of registration.
Points to watch out for:
In the City of Valencia properties are only allowed to register which are situated above a business premise or below a residential home i.e. a basement property. They are not allowed to be located on the same floor as a residential home.
Less than 50% of building units in the City of Valencia may be registered as short-term rental accommodation.
The City of Valencia also distinguishes between owners who rent out their property all year round as a business, and those who rent out sporadically during periods when they are not living in the property.
If you manage five or more properties you must register as a Tourist Company. Further applications for registration in the districts of Ciutat Vella are suspended, whilst the government discuss the protection of environment and culture in the area.
To register your property: Download the application forms and present your Declaración Responsable at a local tourism office, online with an electronic signature or at the post office. Owners must also now get permission from their local town hall before they can register.
Documents required: Property escritura (title deed), First Occupation Licence, passport or DNI (national identity card), company escritura if you are registering as a rental management company.
Note: Registration codes for private owners start VT and managers and businesses EGVT. Followed by a code for each province.
The Valencian government have produced an excellent guide for holiday rental owners to help them get registered
In regions where regulations have yet to be introduced for tourist rentals, owners should still be able to rent out their property for short-term accommodation under the original LAU (Urban Tenancy Act), as long as there has been no ruling to exclude holiday rentals. In this case, it is not permitted to advertise the property anywhere – on or offline – as tourist accommodation.
A legal contract must be prepared for every guest. We recommend you check with a legal representative for your region.
Holiday rental regulations are changing frequently across the regions. It’s advisable to check for updates with your local tourist board.