BRITONS with holiday homes in Spain and France could be prevented from renting them out to tourists under controversial new laws.
The latest rules – which are still in the planning stage – could also add hundreds of euros to the cost of breaks for millions of visitors from Britain.
Experts say families would be the hardest hit as they would no longer be able to pay cheaper rates direct to owners – but would have to stay in apartments, villas or hotels operated by major firms.
The Spanish authorities are expected to ban unlicensed rentals next spring.
Ryan Levitt, of holiday rental website housetrip.com, warned: “This law is closing the door to working and middle-class families who want to book a break to Spain at an affordable price.
‘“Instead of being able to share a whole house with friends, you face being stuck with your kids in a cramped hotel room.”
More than a million properties in Spain are owned by Britons. Many are inhabited all year round by expatriates, but hundreds of thousands were bought as holiday homes.
Until recently, it has been relatively simple for British owners to rent out their properties in the two countries.
But under the new rules, those with second homes in Spain will need a licence from the local council, which could incur a fee.
They will also have to meet strict conditions, such as being contactable 24 hours a day to deal with problems such as water leaks or power blackouts.
Owners will have to pass regular safety inspections and obtain hygiene certificates. Failure to comply will lead to hefty fines.
According to La Caixa bank, around three-quarters of overnight stays in Spain last year were in ‘unregulated premises’ such as privately-owned villas or apartments.
Most of these visitors booked directly through the high number of online holiday rental firms which have sprung up over the past decade.