16 Apr, 2013 @ 17:45
1 min read

Home rentals crackdown in Spain

holiday rentals image e

NEW legislation could prevent home owners from renting their properties to holidaymakers.

If passed by the Senate, it will become illegal for private homes to be let to tourists on a short term basis.

In a bid to help the struggling hotel sector, the government has voted to update the Urban Rental Law (LAU) which will hand regulation of the rental area to the regional authorities.

Hotel owners argue that the practice of independently renting properties to punters over the internet is undermining the tourist trade and creating unfair competition.

It is thought around over 20,000 properties would be affected should the law come into effect.

“While it is true there is a lot of clandestine renting, we are against this,” explains David Tornos, president of Asotur, an organisation that handles property rentals for tourists.

“We pay all our taxes and do things by the book, but the hotels think we are pirates. We just hope they don’t bring this law in and leave us alone.”

Lawyer Antonio Flores, of Lawbird, insists the new law could actually drive a lot more people into illegal renting.

He said: “Providing rentals are carried out legally there should not be a problem. But if this law becomes too restrictive it will drive more people into clandestine rentals.”


  1. I sincerely hope that this does not come to pass.

    We rent legitimately every year on the Costa de la Luz as we prefer a nice comfortable house with our own pool and BBQ house with car sitting at the door. I also legitimately rent in inland Cádiz (always the same house) when it is only my son and I, we now know ‘our’ Spanish neighbours well enough to pass the time of day with them.

    I do not want to go to a hotel, if I did I would. If we could afford our own second home we would have one.


  2. In 2012 Spain’s hoteliers sold ‘all-inclusive packages’, leaving the restauraters and bar owners screaming at the politicians that the all-inclusive packages had had a severe and detrimental effect on their trade. In this respect, the hoteliers have and will continue to undermine other local trade.

    It is embarrasing that the hoteliers are demanding new legislation to supposedly protect their trade, when instead, they should be embracing the idea that, healthy competition will raise standards all-round and in addition, give the tourists what they want, which is, choice.

    If new legislation is passed, will the tourists now have to do what the ‘Law’ demands in ‘Spain’, or will the independent traveller look elsewhere for their summer sunshine because, Spain will have effectively, closed the door on them?

  3. Correct Lindsay. Thousands of people do as you do in preference to staying in crowded, grotty, food-poisoned pits. Hotels insulate their guests from the country they have come to visit. In one of these fancy prisons, you could be anywhere on earth. Sat round a pool with an oil-slick from hundreds of strangers. Sleeping in a bed that holds the sweat of many who came before. Eating “food” that has nothing to do with local fare. The nearest you come to a Spanish person may be the guy who serves your drink or the lady who cleans your room.
    In a self-catering set-up, you usually know the actual person who owns it and can have any problems fixed on the spot.
    This proposal would appear to be sparked by jealousy and irrational prejudice. Yet one more nail in the coffin of Spanish tourism.

  4. You would think that with the economy in such a mess, even a Madrid based government would recognise the importance of tourism to creating jobs and wealth, and yet they persist in crazy protectionist moves that will drive tourists to other countries. Many tourists dont want to stay in over-priced hotels with poor service and food but prefer to be independent-and if they cant be independent in Spain there are plenty of other destinations to choose instead. I despair of this country ever getting out of recession with mindless plans like this

  5. Spain has recently passed some very draconian laws. I think the country is now very close to economic collapse and they are now in the ‘desperation phase’. This most recent idea for holiday rentals is quite unbelievable. If it passes it will destroy the private tourism sector overnight.

  6. Fred what seems to have escaped them is that private tourists spend money. In fact most private tourists will spend more money than those who go to an AI hotel. I hire a car, I shop in Mercadona, SuperSol, etc in both Chiclana and Olvera and wherever else I happen to be. For a treat I jump aboard a MD tren to Sevilla. We eat out in local ventas. In short we live there are if it is home.

  7. Form 720 and the complicated idiocy around actually filling it in and now this proposed law!
    Do these people share a single “communal” brain cell? I think they are all at the amoeba stage of evolution or [cynical me] they [politicos] have financial interests in hotels??!!
    That’s my guess.

    I dread to think what will happen if this bill is passed.
    I will be moving to France I think!

  8. Isn’t it up to a home owner to do as they wish with their own property? As long as the taxes are paid and everything is done legally, I don’t understand how the government can dictate what can or can’t be done with a property that is not their own. Personal choice has to be considered. It would be interesting to hear what the European court have to say about this.

    I am not against a regulation stating that all properties that are rented to tourists need to be checked once a year to ensure that they are safe – this would protect the tourist and appears to be one of the main reasons cited by the government for this ridiculous new law (apart from the pressure from hotel owners).

    To stop all home owners from renting their own properties on a short term basis will be the last nail in the coffin for those people who are already struggling to survive here in Spain. There are plenty of locals here in Andalucia who’s only income is from short term rentals in the summer. The state won’t support them and there aren’t any jobs, so what else are they to do? A great many tourists buy houses with the understanding that their mortgage will be covered by renting outside of the times when they themselves stay in the property. A further blow for the housing market.

    The estimate of 20,000 properties that will be affected doesn’t get close to the real number and I hope that the Senate are advised against this, as it will be an absolute disaster for Spain.

  9. This legislation, if it comes to pass, is typical of government meddling instead of getting to grips with the issues. Yes they are trying to address the problems of hotel owners, but at the same time they are forgetting that the recent property boom and bust was fueled by people being promised lucrative rental incomes. As it turns out the building programme got way ahead of demand and if they try to ban properly regulated and taxed property rentals then they may as well bury their trowels forever!

  10. So as we may no longer be able to rent our property out does this mean we don’t have to pay the annual tax which is charged on the basis that we might be renting out property?

  11. Rajoy and his PP were elected because the economy was in a mess, instead of fixing it he seems determined to finish it off, even Gen Franco came to see the benefits of tourism. I’m struggling to think of one good policy of his since he came to power and sincerely hope the Spanish people throw him out on his ear at the first available opportunity.

  12. Another body of people who turn to legal protection to save their incomes, just like the Taxi drivers at airports. providing the income is taxed whats the problem ?

    Spain gets more barmy every day. Like paying hundreds of millions support for toll roads that are making a loss. Might as well make them free.

  13. The Spanish are losing out on valuable tax revenue, its driven by the hotel operators who are losing out by illegal renting,because it affects cleaners, laundry services etc. as well as the maintenance of pools & gardens, painting and even building improvements, extensions etc.
    This is what you call black economy, tax evasion or tax avoidance call it what you like there’s no differece it’s the same in the Spain as in UK.It’s estimated the corrent weight of the Spanish underground economy is between 20 -25% of the GDP so the government will look at all areas to reduce this.

  14. In Franco’s day,
    if anyone tried to rip off a tourist, all you had to do was go to the Oficina de Tourismo, they would contact the Police and if proven the offender’s assets would be calculated to the last Peseta and they would be fined (1) Peseta more.

    This happened to myself and my friend Brian when it came to paying our hotel bill in Pamplona. In a very loud voice so all could hear I said that I was off to the Tourist office and the Police – the reply from the owner’s wife was “pay what you like” – I did and deducted one day from the total owed.

    It embarrassed my friend who was classically English and did’nt like to make a scene but we came out ahead. The quicker the English can overcome their lack of confidence in public – they will get treated much better.

    Here in France – holiday letting is big business. Of course it is heavily regulated precisely to ensure that tourists get what they pay for – The French want foreigners to return and benefit the local economy – way too rational for the Spanish.

    Spanish hotels have zero thermal or acoustic insulation – try getting a good night’s sleep in one.

    I am on the committee of the local neighbour’s association and if I find any bent Brits cheating the taxman I will have no hesitation in getting the authorities involved – I live in this country and love it – what a bloody shame we ever wasted so much time in Spain.

  15. Typical. Spanish bearocracy gone mad. Do they not realise that if you remove the expat/visitors whether in hotels or private rental the country will be in a worse state than Greece. It doesnt matter where people stay they will still spend. Shops/car hire/restaurants….. The government are……

  16. The banks will be in even more trouble as many will not be able to pay their mortgages without rentals, bars, shops etc will have less money. It is laughable really that they even voice this absurd idea. The Country is being run by a bunch of incompetent corrupt politicians. They are not tackling the real problems.

  17. reap,
    the century after the main looting of Central and South America took place, Spain went bankrupt 4 times – you simply could’nt make it up.

    I will never forget the day in my favourite and best bar in Guadix talking with 3 bank managers.

    Their knowledge of finance in general was a joke and when I said what will happen if you screw up entirely – ” we don’t have to worry, we are in the Euro now” and they all laughed.

    Says it all really does’nt it!

  18. I thought protectionism was illegal in Europe.
    I will be looking forward to my compensation for buying a holiday let with a licence at a premium. We let 42 weeks a year mostly repeat custom some have been coming twenty years they all love it what a tragedy .
    Wonder what Ryanair make of such a move.

  19. It seems the law has been there since 1995 but they have only just started to implement it, so maybe all of us who were sold property on the basis of great rental potential should now sue the estate agents, lawyers, tv programs etc who sold them under false pretense.

  20. Will there be the associated tax-breaks such as for furniture and decorating expenses that hoteliers enjoy, or will private owners have to pay tax on that as we do now?

  21. The change in legislation will be introduced as an attempt to stimulate domestic rents at affordable prices for people to live in which is basically what houses are built for.
    If a property owner wishes to commercialise his home as tourist accommodation then it has to be done legally according to the local governments.
    It is a relatively simple matter to register a property as a holiday rental in Catalonia, although this depends on the town planning dept. If the property is in a solely residential area permission cannot be granted. An owner who wishes to pack over 10 people into a villa with a pool in a housing estate that is not within walking distance of the beach, shops or any services will probably find that the business is in the wrong place.
    Tourists have the right to safe, properly insured accommodation in the correct surroundings.
    Local residents have the right to peace and privacy in their homes.
    It is not just the hotels that are pleased that this legislation is coming into vigor. Local residents have to pay for all the extra costs involved by an invasion of holiday makers whose “rental” money is in the pockets of the home owner…no national insurance paid, no local business tax. Self-catering does not supply many jobs and a tourism that does little more than stock up in the supermarket, party by the pool all day and wine and dine on the balcony by night gives little benefit with the local businesses.

  22. I fully understand your comments Carmen more especially since I work in social housing in Glasgow where it is also difficult to provide housing for families at an affordable and sustainable level. The north of Scotland also has a huge number of houses which are owned by absentees who holiday there sporadically and let out at other times. The situation is the same in many other locations notably Cornwall.

    However I would dispute your comment about not spending money. If the house that I rent was lying empty no one would be spending any money in the supermarkets, etc. I may only spend six weeks a year in Cádiz but I spend money in the supermarkets, in the ventas, in the gasolineras, for the hire of my car and wherever I happen to go during the day as I am a ‘strange’ tourist who likes to trot about getting to know the area. On the basis of your comment Eroski were not happy to take my money in exchange for a new SatNav which I could have bought in Scotland but chose not to. I am not a pool or a party person, I do not disturb the neighbourhood with such goings on and I enjoy talking with ‘my’ Spanish neighbours who always appear to be pleased to see me. I like sunshine (something that is in short supply where I live) and count Cádiz and Sevilla cities as my favourite cities in the world.

    Saludos. Lindsay

  23. Carmen,
    what arrogance to dictate where tourists should stay, where they should eat even the old Fascists never ever went that far.

    So all foreigners want to flop out on a beach, get pissed and eat crap overpriced food on the Med .

    I’ve got news for you – YOUR WRONG. If you bothered to read just some of the posts on this very thread you would see just how out of touch you are with a big percentage of foreign visitors.

    Take a look at what you Spanish have done to the Med coast as well as the rest of Spain – it is overrun with badly built apartment blocks crammed together as close as possible – and this in a big country like Spain. You are in complete denial at how you have destroyed your country – you have made it ugly with your greed.

    The parts of Spain that still have original beauty are those parts you hav’nt built on – yet.

    Come to France and see that self catering is the norm here and that it is properly regulated by the local communes – that are’nt corrupt to the core like you Spanish are.Also a lot of self catering families are – French, try telling the French how they should spend their vacations!

    You talk about local Spanish have the right to peace – YOU ARE JOKING OF COURSE – YOU ARE THE NOISEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

    You need to connect with the real world – your totally corrupt country is bankrupt and it is you the Spanish who have done this to yourselves.

    I think your post should appear in every major newspaper in northern Europe/Scandinavia – just think what effect that would have on your tourist industry!

  24. Stuart, as you point out self catering is regulated in France..that is what the new legislation in Spain is about.It is not that the tourist does not spend it is that the business produces extra costs that are not covered. Spain has a lot of legislation that protects the tourist.
    Legal apartment and villas are available and protect the customers rights, have the correct insurance and liability policies.
    The legislation for rural holiday accommodation hasn’t been changed.
    No-one is being obliged to stay in a hotel.Though lots of French seem to enjoy their holidays in Spanish hotels.

  25. The truth is, no-one knows what the new legislation will be until the regional ayuntamiento have decided.

    All that has been agreed is that central government shall pass the responsibility out to the regions.

  26. In Cataluña the Decret 159/2012 de 20 de novembre, d’establiments d’ allotjament turistic i d’ habitatges d’ us turistic is the relevant legislation. Section IV for rural tourism and Title II for tourist homes.If a property is being rented out for periods of time of less than 31 days (weekly or fortnight holidays) or repeatedly rented during the period of a year (changing customers every weekend during the summer)it will be considered a business venture and will need the “alta de l’activitat” from the Ayuntamiento who should then register the property with the Dept of Tourism as an official Tourist establishment. The delays of course are in the town hall.

  27. The authorities in Granada have been trying to do this for many years but without the legal back up. They used to send out letters threatening fines of many thousands of euros for clandestine renting. About 8 years ago there was a time when people could register the properties with the town halls. What actually happened was that for about a year people would register the property and become legal. Then they realised that too many properties were becoming legitimate so they started having ridiculous and unrealistic requirements mainly involving facilities for disabled people or other excuses for not allowing people to become legal. The exception to this was if someone has an “enchufe” (a good connection) in the town hall. This is the normal way that corruption happens in Spain. Unfortunately the people who tried to become legal but failed were now easy pickings for the authorities because they now knew the address and all the house details.

    I pay over 1000 euros in taxes per year just to own my home and I also declare all the money I get from rental income. I won’t be going down the legal path. I will be staying completely illegal. I am not going to the town hall to tell them that I am renting my home so that I can be fleeced by some corrupt funcionarios. In any case there must be some way of getting around the new law. For example always having a rental contract of 30 days and calling the actual stay a trial period after which the rent goes up to 10000 euros per day or always having the actual money change hands in another country.

  28. “Unfortunately the people who tried to become legal but failed were now easy pickings for the authorities because they now knew the address and all the house details.”

    Quite correct, just like Spain has used Modolo 720 to claim tax going back to 2005 for some people, when they specifically said 720 would not be used for this purpose. Spain cannot be trusted.

  29. I cant see the authorities being able to police this. Many residents with property near us in Murcia havnt paid water Rates for years. The whole Public Sector in Spain (apart from Health) is a shambles. Why dont they go the full way and ban Car Rental so fat cat taxi drivers can have it there own way just like the hotels.

    Hello Madrid…… Want to screw up Spains biggest Industry , ? Then just go ahead with this propostrus plan . Thanks

  30. Talking of cutscenes, whatever Armature used to compress them was a foul thought. I was looking ahead to watching the wonderful cutscenes on the Vita’s OLED display, however one thing will need to have gone improper throughout compression.

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