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Spain to crack down on holiday rentals to address housing crisis

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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Spain to crack down on holiday rentals to address housing crisis

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s government on Wednesday announced a crackdown on short-term and seasonal holiday lettings amid rising anger from locals who feel priced out of the housing market.

The government will investigate listings on platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to verify if they have licences, consumer rights minister Pablo Bustinduy said.

“If a house doesn’t have a license for tourism, advertising it on internet platforms should be illegal and thus punished,” Bustinduy said in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.

Spain is grappling with how to strike a balance between sustaining tourism, one of the main drivers of its economy, and addressing the concerns of locals who can no longer afford rents because of gentrification and landlords shifting to more lucrative tourist rentals.

Barcelona’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, cited a 68% rise in rent prices in the past decade as one reason for his recently-announced plan to phase out all short-term lets in the city by 2028.

Apartur, the association of tourism apartment owners, said the measure amounted to expropriation while Spain’s Constitutional Court is deliberating whether the move is legal.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced earlier this week that the government would create a registry of holiday rental properties in a bid to limit the number of listings.

Residents of Barcelona, the Canary Islands and Malaga have all staged protests against the rise in tourist rentals in recent weeks. In these tourism hot spots, seasonal hospitality workers struggle to find accommodation, with many resorting to sleeping in caravans or even their cars.

Airbnb and Booking.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The government is also looking to take steps to curb mid-term rentals of one to 11 months and may give neighbours in apartment blocks a say over whether an owner can list their property on platforms, housing minister Isabel Rodriguez said on Tuesday evening,

“We have to preserve social rights, such as the right to housing,” Rodriguez told radio station Cadena SER.

 

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Corina Pons; additional reporting by Joan Faus; editing by Charlie Devereux and Christina Fincher)