AT the start of 2015, the Junta de Andalucia aims to pass new legislation to regulate the short-term rental market, raising standards for tourists and requiring owners to register apartments and declare earnings.
Since 2012, changes to regional laws regarding residential tenancies have given rise to a legal vacuum in the holiday-home rentals market in Andalucia, leaving owners wondering about the legality of their situation and holidaymakers at risk of letting sub-standard accommodation with no straightforward right of recourse.
Now, the Junta de Andalucía is aiming to introduce new regulations by January 2015 that the regional secretary for tourism and commerce, Rafael Rodríguez, believes, “will be an important instrument to promote a large part of tourism activity that, at present, is carried out in a clandestine way, off the books.”
Hotel owners have long lobbied for such a law to fight against what they see as unfair competition from private individuals who own properties that tourists want to rent, but who do not have to meet the same standards, or pay the same taxes, as hospitality professionals.
According to data released at the end of November by the leading online holiday rental website, HomeAway, the private rentals market was worth nearly two billion euros in Andalucia over the last three years, including spending in the region’s bars, restaurants, and shops by the millions of tourists who visit every year.
Data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute showed there were almost 78,500 apartments rented for short-term periods to holidaymakers across Andalusia in 2013, 5.7% more than the previous year. Together, they accounted for over 696,000 beds and more than 6.8 million nights of stay, a 4% rise over 2012.
Adolfo Martos, a partner in the Costa del Sol law firm GAM Abogados, says the new law will affect residential properties rented to tourists for any more than 30 days in a year or that have been advertised via any means – such as website listings or through travel agents and other tourism-related businesses. However, if you solely rent to the same person for more than three months in a given year, you will not be affected by the change.
Properties used by visitors without money changing hands, for example by family members and friends, and those in rural areas (as per articles 47 and 48 of the Tourism Law of Andalusia) are exempt from the new law, while groups of three or more properties located in the same complex or building and belonging to the same owner will be regulated by separate rules governing ‘apartamentos turísticos’ (tourism apartments).
Adolfo notes that, apart from the obligation for owners to register such properties with la Junta, they will have to meet minimum standards of comfort – regarding furnishings, air-conditioning and heating, free Internet connections, and more – and will be subject to inspection by regional government inspectors. And any money earned from rentals will have to be declared as part of the owners’ income, with annual payments for residents and quarterly payments for non-residents of any taxes due.
With the risk of court orders and fines of between 2,001 and 18,000 euros for those who do not comply with the proposed legislation once it comes into force, Adolfo recommends that, if you do own property you regularly rent out to visitors, you either ensure you meet all the requirements or you avoid advertising and limit holiday rentals to no more than 30 days a year.
Erratum: In the previous version of this article, the sixth paragraph read “…residential properties rented to tourists on a regular basis (for a minimum of one calendar month and no more than three months a year) and that have been advertised via any means…” and the last paragraph read “…you either ensure you meet all the requirements or you take a break from holiday rentals for more than four weeks a year.” In response to reader comments, both paragraphs have been revised.