Barcelona's mediation service has resolved 238 tourist apartment conflicts in 2019
City council says results are "very satisfactory" while saving on official inspections and police involvement
Conflicts with local residents in Barcelona as a result of apartments being rented out to tourists has been a thorny issue for the local authorities in the past few years.
That's why the council set up the Coexistence and Tourism municipal service to mediate between the owners of tourist apartments and disgruntled local residents.
In its first few months, the service has so far in 2019 resolved some 238 conflicts between local city residents and tourist apartment owners.
Providing individual solutions for each case, the main conflicts are related to excessive noise, which have been solved with measures such as installing sound level meters.
While the service covers all of the city's neighbourhoods, priority has been given to those areas with the most tourist apartments, such as Ciutat Vella or Eixample.
Mediator, Nidi Naghdev, says: “So far, an agreement has been reached in all the mediations I've been part of, although it's true that because it's voluntary, some do not wish to take part."
64% of cases resolved with mediation
The council's figures say that in 64% of cases a resolution was reached through counseling or meditation, with the rest passed to other services, such as the city's inspection unit.
These are generally cases in which there are legal aspects at play that are not being complied with, or technical aspects of coexistence particular to the area in question.
According to deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, meditation service allows the authorities "to save resources and on police involvement and official inspections."
Most cases are detected when locals complain to the police about a problem of coexistence with a tourist apartment, or through contacting the service directly by phone or email.
Each complaint begins with dialogue
Once the complaint is registered, the service begins an initial phase of dialogue or mediation between the two parties, while the apartment's owner is offered legal advice.
If this initial phase is insufficient, then a file is opened and the service proposes agreements between the parties, which it follows up to make sure they have been complied with.
The time from when an incident is registered to when the service contacts the parties is 24 hours to a month, but it is quicker if the complainant contacts the service directly.
An example of excessive noise
An example of a typical incident took place in the Guinardó neighbourhood, where a flat owner below a tourist apartment complained of excessive noise throughout July.
The owner complained about the noise of footsteps and furniture being moved in the night. After mediation, the tourist apartment owner agreed to install carpets and demand tenants wear slippers.
"The first evaluation of the service has been very satisfactory," says Collboni, who adds that it will continue to function "to guarantee a better quality of life for citizens.”