Spanish government wants to limit short-term rentals and give residents veto over tourist flats

Housing minister says temporary rental contracts should only be for specific reasons such as studying or research

Panoramic view of Barcelona seen from Carmel Bunkers
Panoramic view of Barcelona seen from Carmel Bunkers / Maria Aladern
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona/Madrid

July 3, 2024 04:32 PM

July 3, 2024 06:23 PM

The Spanish government has announced its intention to modify existing housing law to put more effective limits on both short-term rentals and tourist apartments

The aim is to "empower residents," Spain's housing minister Isabel Rodríguez said on Wednesday, and make neighbors' opinions binding when deciding whether or not to authorize any economic activity in residential buildings. 

In the case of short-term rentals, a legal loophole exploited by many de facto tourist apartments, the minister said they must be justified and registered

"The temporary nature [of the rentals] will depend on the motive" for renting, Rodríguez said, adding that acceptable reasons could include studying or research. 

Temporary rental contracts will have to be accompanied by documents that certify the need for a short-term rental, in the same way that long-term rentals require employment contracts or wage slips. 

A register will be urgently created for use by councils and regional governments, the minister explained. 

"It's about empowering neighbors, ensuring amicable coexistence within residential buildings and cities, and letting homeowners decide whether or not they want to accept this type of economic activity in their buildings," she added.


Tourist apartments 

The Spanish government also wants to increase restrictions on tourist apartments, giving greater power to the residents' groups in apartment buildings. 

These groups should have a "decisive" opinion when it comes to allowing economic activity in their building, such as setting up tourist apartments for platforms such as Airbnb

To do so, Spain's minority government will look to make "surgical" adjustments to the law, which will be negotiated with various parliamentary groups in Congress. 

Proposals 'of no use' 

The Tenants' Union in Barcelona said that the limits on short-term rent proposed by the Spanish government "will be of no use." 

"The have wasted the opportunity to truly regulate these rents," said spokesperson Enric Aragonès. 

He was also skeptical of the effectiveness of the register the housing ministry wants to create. 

"The last proposal of this type took more than four years," he said, referring to the rent price index

Barcelona proposals echoed in Madrid  

The proposal from the Spanish government echoes a decree to regulate temporary rental housing from the Catalan government in April, which was rejected by Parliament in May. 

The Catalan executive wanted to act because short-term rentals, defined as those lasting more than 31 days without a maximum limit, fall outside the scope of the Spanish housing law and are exempt from rent caps. 

Meanwhile in June, Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni proposed removing all 10,101 tourist apartments in the city by November 2028. 

Catalonia expands 'tense' housing zones 

On the same day that the Spanish housing minister announced the plans for short-term lets and tourist flats, Catalonia officially published the 131 new municipalities declared as tense housing areas, where the rent cap can be applied. 

A total of 271 municipalities in Catalonia are now affected, home to more than 7 million people, 90% of the population. 

Catalan authorities now have to send the list to the Spanish housing ministry, which, on a previous occasion, took seven months to bring a similar declaration into force.