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Barcelona announces it will remove all tourist apartments in four years

City currently has 10,101 legal accommodations for visitors

A building with several tourist apartments in Barcelona in an archive image of 2017
A building with several tourist apartments in Barcelona in an archive image of 2017 / Josep Molina
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

June 21, 2024 01:38 PM

June 21, 2024 05:30 PM

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

Officials are considering not renewing the tourist accommodation licences to the current holders of such, so all these flats can be transformed into primary homes, in a way of fighting the housing crisis in the city.

Authorities will consider the Catalan government's legislation from November 7, 2023, which limits the use of tourist apartments in municipalities with a large housing crisis, such as the Catalan capital.

Therefore, five years after the law comes into force, in November 2028, the city council will not renew the licenses to current holders.

As Collboni announced on Friday morning, one of the city council's main actions is to tackle the city's lack of housing opportunities. House prices have increased by 68%, while salaries have increased by 38%.

"Barcelona currently has 10,000 legal tourist apartments, and the city council will implement the Catalan government's legislation from November 7, 2023, so that these 10,000 tourist apartments will be transformed into residential homes from November 2028," he said.

With the new legislation change, Collboni has already announced that from November 2028, there will not be a single tourist apartment in Barcelona, and these houses will be available to rent or buy.


"From 2029, the tourist apartment as it is currently known will disappear from Barcelona," Collboni said.

On another note, the city has already placed 10,500 fines and asked to shut down the activity of 9,700 tourist apartments since 2016. And from the 6,000 illegal apartments, there are now between 300 and 400 recorded monthly.

In the last few years, 3,473 flats have been moved from illegal visitor accommodation to long-term residences.

30% of new houses for public housing

Collboni has also warned about the lack of public housing and proposed some changes to ensure that 30% of new constructions are intended for such purposes.

According to the different licenses, since the law came into force in 2018, authorities have only been able to acquire 93 houses, and only eight of those have become a reality.

Meanwhile, the average number of new construction projects has dropped from 1,100 to 60 houses.

Some of the changes include allowing 30% of houses to be built in nearby neighbors without requiring a deal to make it possible. Something which has not been the case until now.

Local political groups must agree on such changes before coming into force.

Tenants' union warns of legal fragility

The Tenants' Union, known as the Sindicat de Llogateres in Catalan, has warned that the measure not to renew licenses for tourist flats "could fall at any time."

In a statement, they regret that the "practical effects" will not be felt for years and that the political context in this period is "uncertain."

They insist that the housing crisis is not only based on tourist apartments but on the lack of regulation on temporary rentals, a gap in legislation that could have been solved with the passing of the government's decree law a month ago, but which, according to the Tenants' Union, both Collboni's Socialist Party and Junts per Catalunya "let it fall."

The union adds that the proposition of 30% of new constructions being reserved for public housing responds to the "interests of the construction companies."

Opposition criticizes 'improvised' proposal

Pro-independence right-wing TriasxBCN has said that not renovating any tourist apartment license is an "improvised and ideologic" decision by Collboni, as Damià Calvet, a local councilor of the political group, said to media outlets.

He said that half of these licenses "are not being used," and criticized that the mayor talks about the housing crisis as "if he was not related to the problem."


"We do not have to forget that this problem is an outcome of the harmful politics promoted by the Socialists and former mayor Ada Colau," Calvet said.

The leader of the unionist conservative People's Party in the municipal council, Daniel Sirera, accused the mayor of "trying to solve" the housing problem in the city "by expropriating."

Sirera denounced that the measures will mean "slowing down construction and harming tourism," adding that it "sends a very damaging message to employers."

The conservative politician assures that such accommodations "account for 25% of tourism" in the Catalan capital and that eliminating them "will harm the economic fabric" and create "legal uncertainty."

ERC supports move

Left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana city councilor Elisenda Alamany celebrated that Collboni's move was only made possible thanks to her own party's decree approved while in government last year. 

"Barcelona needs ambition and urgent answers in housing, the government understood this by launching the tourist flats decree that allows measures such as those announced by the city council today," Alamany posted on social media network 'X'.

After the Collboni's announcement, Alamany also urged the council to manage tourism and "restore balance in the city" so that "Barcelona can live there."