Catalan government sets five-year limit on tourist apartments licenses

Rule will affect 95,000 holiday rentals in 260 municipalities

Social housing construction
Social housing construction / Gemma Sánchez Bonel
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 7, 2023 04:40 PM

November 7, 2023 05:54 PM

The Catalan government passed a pioneering regulation that puts an end to permanent licenses for tourist apartments and forces them to be renewed every five years. 

The new rule approved on Tuesday will come into force in 262 towns and cities, including Barcelona, and will affect 95,000 tourist apartments, meaning 90% of those in Catalonia. 

Licenses will now be limited to a maximum of 10 tourist apartments for every 100 inhabitants. That limit is currently exceeded in 47 Catalan cities and towns, resulting in 28,000 apartments that will automatically have their licenses removed as part of the new rule. 

Despite setting the limit at 10%, the territory department says it considers even five tourist apartments for every 100 inhabitants to be "excessive," due to the effect it could have on driving house prices up. 

Catalan Territory Minister Ester Capella said a limitation on tourist apartments was a "common demand" made by local councils.  

"It was something we had to deal with, as it created a situation of legal insecurity and it was often demanded by local councils," she added. 


The five-year licenses will be issued after going through a legal process that will be determined by each local councils, and it will only get the go-ahead if urban planning justifies there is already enough space for residential housing. 

The purpose of this rule is to eliminate the uneven growth of speculation in tourist apartments, the government says. 

However, owners will be able to obtain a five-year extension of the license if they demonstrate that they have not been able to pay off their investment on the apartment in the next five years.

Right now, to obtain a license for a tourist apartment, it is only necessary to register a housing certificate and provide a statement certifying that the apartment is furnished and not rented out by individual rooms. 

The new rule will significantly strengthen the procedure for 95,000 tourist apartments across Catalonia. 

Impact on tourism 

The Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments (Federatur) and Barcelona's Tourist Apartments Association have criticized the new legislation, branding it "populist" and "extremely irresponsible." 

Federatur's President David Riba said the rule will impact 47% of tourist accommodations and warned that 25,000 jobs could disappear, especially in tourist-heavy places like Barcelona, Catalan seaside towns and the Pyrenees. 

Apartur's President Enrique Alcántara said the problem "has nothing to do with tourism," arguing that even though the number of tourist apartments in Barcelona has not increased in recent years, rent has continued to rise.