HOLIDAY rental scams are under fire as Mallorca’s Tourism Ministry rolls out a new scheme to combat the growing fraud, including fines of up to €400,000 for offenders.
The plan, which involves an online catalogue and accompanying app, will list all legal rental accommodation on the island.
It comes after the Olive Press reported last issue that more than 2,000 British holidaymakers have been victims of online rental scams this year.
Since then we have been contacted by another victim, who was left €3,000 out of pocket by a bogus site, while an owner told us his property had been illegally advertised on rentalia.com.
The plan, set to be rolled out next month, by the Balearic Tourism Ministry, will publish a list of illegal sites as well as a catalogue of all legal properties.
Under new rules every single rentable property on the islands, be they hotels, apartments or holiday villas, is being given a unique registration number.
“And any advertising platform, online or otherwise, is obliged by law to publish this unique license number in its advert,” vice president Lexa Wilms told the Olive Press.
“Holidaymakers will be able to check the registration number matches our authorised property list via our website or the app.
“This will help, not only in cases like those you have brought up, but will also help stop rentals in ‘plurifamiliar’ buildings, such as in private blocks of flats, which is completely prohibited.”
She added: “We have already sent writs to most of the biggest online sites who have until September 20 to remove any rental properties without an authorised license.”
Booking.com had already introduced a policy to not accept new adverts without a licence number, she continued.
“As from the end of September we will be sending out cease and desist notices to any site that does not comply with these new rules.”
Owners of unauthorised rental properties will be fined up to €40,000 and any platforms advertising bogus or illegal properties will be fined €400,000.
However, some agents have claimed the new licence fines could make online scams worse.
“People are saying it will get rid of the scams,” said Clare Taylor. “It won’t. It will actually make them worse as scammers will just copy the licence number and use it.”