THE new rules governing rented accommodation have received a huge amount of attention in the press.
But the rules have failed to elaborate on two important aspects: what does compliance really entail and what are the fines for non-compliance.
In respect to the first aspect, the rules obliges owners to offer clients –among other requirements- the following: licence of occupancy, rooms with adequate ventilation and darkening devices (shutters or similar), sufficient furniture and necessary appliances, first aid kit, touristic information of data for the area (bus schedules, close-by parking facilities, medical facilities in the vicinity and a plan of the town), complaint form, bed linen, cutlery and crockery (and a replacement set for each).
As if not enough, the law says owners will need a telephone number available to tenants where they can call to resolve any incidences, an instruction manual for kitchen appliances, details of the use of communal facilities and property equipment, as well as details on access of pets to the property and information on potential restriction for smokers and a few other requirements.
But while some of the above is clear, the meaning of ambiguous words such as ‘sufficient’ and ‘necessary’ can widely differ depending on who you ask. Attending these grey areas is a pressing requirement.
The fine system is also not clear. The 2016 Act refers to a 2011 Rural Accommodation Act for elucidation of what fines are applicable. Some scaremongers have enjoyed spreading the belief that if you do not register, you will be fined up to €150,000. The reality is that failing to register their properties can ‘only’ be fined between €2,000 and €18,000, the heavier monster fine of ‘up to €150,000’ being reserved for other contraventions i.e. unlawful discrimination or obstructing inspectors on duty.
Interestingly, the Act does not address the fines for failing to comply with one or more elements within the the long list, for instance: missing spoons, dirty linen or insufficient first aid kit.
The experience in Catalunya and the Balearics, where similar rules apply, shows us that lack of registration is attracting the vast majority of fines, with little or no precedent in respect to the degree or correctness of compliance.